Guest Blog Archives - Dr. Ivan Misner®
Networking Quotient

Build Your Referability Degree and Networking Quotient

Today’s guest blog is an extract from the book, “Networking Quotient” by my good friends and BNI® Leaders, Paulo Corsi and YP Lai, about two immensely powerful measurements that determine the ability of your network to generate business for you, your Networking Quotient and your Referability Degree.

As a networker, have you ever asked yourself how effective your network is in bringing business referrals? And have you ever pondered which strategy will bring you better results? Should you expand your network and get to know more people? Should you build a deeper relationship with the people who are already in your network? Well, the secret to getting the answers is being able to measure your network. That sounds simple, right? However, what is the right measurement to use? The size of your network? The depth of your network? Or perhaps something else?

Let me introduce you to two powerful measurements that determine the ability of your network to generate business for you.

Your Referability Degree

The Referability Degree points out how much of your network is working for you. However, it does not tell you if your network has the right size to generate more business opportunities for you.

The Referability Degree is calculated by dividing the number of contacts in your network who have given you a referral in the last six months and dividing this number by the total number of contacts you have. (e.g., 30 people that gave you referrals / 100 people in your network gives you a Referability Degree of 30%).

  • If you have a Referability Degree of 50% or less:

Your focus should be on developing better relationships with the people who do not regularly give you business referrals. Through nurturing the relationship, you will teach them how to generate referrals for you. At the same time, you will be learning ways on how to create value and bring referrals for the other person and develop a long-term mutually beneficial relationship.

  • When your Referability Degree is above 50%:

You are ready to expand your network. As you expand your network, you should simultaneously strengthen the relationship so that both parties can bring good quality business referrals for each other.

Imagine a person that has a Referability Degree of 90% – which is exceedingly high. However, the size of the network is only 10 people. This indicates that he has deep relationships with his existing contacts but has only an extremely limited network. In this scenario, he must expand his network to more people. A network of 10 people will not be sufficient to create a constant flow of opportunities for him.

Your Networking Quotient

The Networking Quotient is simply the number of people that have given business referrals to you in the past 6 months.

For a continual flow of business by referrals, it is recommended to have a Networking Quotient of at least 100. This means having an active community of at least 100 people that you are constantly in contact with, build rapport with and know how to bring you good quality referrals. Building up your Networking Quotient takes time, and with constant practice, it will become your daily habit.

“Networking Quotient”

Networking Quotient  Paulo Corsi and YP Lai in their book, “Networking Quotient”, share in detail how to calculate the Referability Degree and the Networking Quotient. And more importantly, they share proven strategies to build your Referability Degree and your Networking Quotient.

The eBook / Kindle version of “Networking Quotient” is on sale for $1.99 until 11 pm (PDT) TONIGHT – April 1st, 2021.

 Download the eBook version of “Networking Quotient” today.

 

“Work Less Earn More”

Work Less Earn More

Accompanying the Networking Quotient book, YP Lai has written another book, “Work Less Earn More” about the 10 proven strategies to be wealthier, healthier & happier.

This book acts as a guide for busy entrepreneurs to get their lives into harmony, ensuring that while they are in pursuit of material wealth to provide for the family, they also focus on other important things in life like health, fitness, and happiness.

The eBook / Kindle version of “Work Less, Earn More” is on sale for 99¢ on Amazon until 11 pm (PDT) on April 2nd, 2021.

Download the eBook version of “Work Less Earn More” today.

A More Purposeful Life (by Bijay and Anna Shah)

International Networking Week®: “A World of Thanks” story submitted by Bijay Rajnikantt Shah and Anna ShahBNI National Directors – BNI United Arab Emirates

BijayThe United Arab Emirates (UAE) is a beloved home for people of all ages, ethnicities, backgrounds, religions, and cultures. It has been more than a second home for hundreds of thousands of ex-pats, that have come to this gracious land and made a living, started families, and made life-long friends. With generations of families being settled in this Middle-Eastern country, the new-generation even considers the UAE as their first and ONLY home.

When Anna & I first moved to the UAE, BNI was not on our radar and we had no plans to make it our permanent home. We were just exploring what could be possible and if there might be any opportunities for us to make a good living and build a future for ourselves.

We came here knowing only 2 people in 2004. Fast forward 16 years later and we can proudly call the UAE our permanent home. Our 13-year-old son Aryan is born here and he considers this to be his first and only home. We are surrounded by an active community of over 600 givers in BNI and over the years made connections with thousands more both locally and globally.

As we celebrate the 14th International Networking Week and its theme “A World of Thanks”, Anna & I would like to take this opportunity to express our deepest gratitude to the following people for what and who were are today:

Bijay and Anna Shah share a “World of Thanks”

  • Dr. Ivan Misner & the late Elisabeth Misner for creating this amazing organization that is truly Changing the Way the World Does Business®. Over the last 16 years, the BNI system has helped generate over US$ 440 Million in new business for our members in the UAE.
  • Under the Leadership of our CEO, Graham Weihmiller, and the support of the BNI Global Support Team, the last 5 years have seen exemplary progress in our technology and systems – creating a pathway to an even stronger and brighter future both for ourselves and our members.
  • Our Members and our Executive Teams who trust us and followed the BNI system in an organization that changed their life. Their continued support and enthusiasm are what keeps us motivated in doing what we do every day.
  • Lastly and most importantly, the leaders of this great country we now call our permanent home – the UAE. The UAE has also taught so many to dream big and to keep thriving until they achieve success, all being the influence of the great and visionary leader, H.H. Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan.

H.H. Sheikh Zayed’s legacy is indispensable to healing the fractures of a world that is being disfigured by demagoguery and divisive politics. Upholding human dignity – treating “every person, no matter what his creed or race, as a special soul”, as he put it – was his principal objective in public life. He emphasized the urgency of opening up opportunities in “all sectors” for women and warned that no society that excluded half its citizens could prosper. He welcomed people from every part of the world with open arms, transforming the UAE into one of the most pluralistic societies in the world.

The momentous change over which Sheikh Zayed presided was never, in his eyes, a departure from the heritage of the UAE but an affirmation of its finest aspects. The true genius of culture and society lay, he believed, in their capacity to adapt and thrive in a changing world. A cursory glance at the Middle East shows how right he was – and how well he prepared the UAE for the 21st Century. In a region characterized by strife and conflict, the UAE is not only a haven of stability and prosperity but also the place where the future is imagined and brought into being. At the same time, it has given so munificently to the less fortunate that it has gained recognition as the most generous donor of aid on earth.

We owe a World of Thanks to all of the people mentioned above for helping us find meaning and making our life more purposeful – Thank you!

Bijay Rajnikantt Shah and Anna Shah | BNI United Arab Emirates National Directors

#BijayShah   #AnnaShah   #BNIUAE  

Tiago

The Language of Thanks (by Tiago Henriques da Cunha)

International Networking Week®: “A World of Thanks” story submitted by Tiago Henriques da Cunha, National DirectorBNI Spain SLC

TiagoIn 2021, BNI invites you to celebrate a World of Thanks! A World of Thanks is a universal and wonderful pledge!

All cultures have a way to express thankfulness. In Portuguese we say “Obrigado”, in French “Merci”, in German “Danke”… but although all these different ways of expressing our positive feelings about something someone has done for us are unique, they all add something special and distinct.

 

I believe from my experience that a glimpse on these ways to say “Thanks” makes our Thanking much more joyful and meaningful.

World of Thanks in Spanish is “Mundo de Gracias” to Tiago

The Spanish word “Gracias” has the same Latin origin as “Gratitud” or “Grace”. So when we say “Gracias” in Spain (or in Latin America), we are telling people that we are “Grateful” and that we wish them to be filled with Grace.

This has a poetic flavor, and it evokes for me the “Law of Reciprocity”: what goes around, comes around. In Spanish culture, saying “Gracias” is not just a word, but something that builds our relationship with that person. Where does this relate to the idea of Networking? I think it has everything to do with it!

Through Networking we should build meaningful relationships with people. Get to know them well, help them in any way that seems appropriate and possible, and yes… thank them when they do something positive for us. Through our Networking endeavors, we build positive, self-fulfilling Communities around us. When we thank people, we are generating well-being and well-feeling. And for that, I think that here lies the power of saying “Gracias”. What better way there is to build those communities than to tell people we are grateful and that we wish them to be full of Grace! That’ is one of the reasons I think Networking is so strong within the Spanish culture (although there is no direct Spanish word for it).

In Spain, relationships are a key part of our culture. People just love to be with other people, from big family gatherings to staying out late on the terrace chatting about anything. So networking comes naturally to Spaniards. Saying “Gracias” was very important to me when I started working in Spain. Coming from a very close country (Portugal), I had to make some adjustments to the way I interact with people. I soon come to discover the uniqueness of saying “Gracias”. In just 9 years, we have created a community of almost 9000 committed people who network together and thank each other every week. Through that journey, I discovered that when really meant, to say “Gracias” is a powerful and truthful relationship builder. No long-term positive relationship is possible without the mindset that saying “Gracias” represents and demonstrates.

So I would like to say “Gracias” to all the people who have helped me on this wonderful journey of developing BNI in Spain: our Members, Executive Directors, Directors and Ambassadors, National Office colleagues, both past and present, and especially to my family. To them, I wish “Un Mundo de Gracias”, a “World of Thanks”, a “World of Graces” during International Networking Week® 2021

Tiago Henriques da Cunha | BNI Spain SLC National Director     

#BNIespanaSLC   #Tiagodacunha

INW

We Care, We Share (by Avryl Au)

International Networking Week®: “A World of Thanks” story submitted by Avryl Au, BNI National Director – BNI Thailand, BNI Macau & Hong Kong, China

AvrylWhat a great theme, “A World of Thanks”, is to kick start the year.  Each week on Monday, it is my team tradition when we meet to plan for the week ahead that we share gratitude and thank someone in mind. We often send a caring message to team members who cannot attend due to caring for their own family needs. I am thankful we have a team that sets priorities right, family is our highest priority to care for. We often have full participation every Monday morning. For that, I am thankful to my team of Directors and Ambassadors of KL West and KL South, Malaysia.

I want to say a special thank you to the INW Committee 2020 and continuing to 2021, Desmond Sia, Daisy Lee, Wong Chee How, and Andrew Hooi. Together with a very supportive team of assistants from throughout the regions, INW2020 made history in BNI by introducing a bigger vision and the possibility of Diamond Chapters. The result was 3 double diamond chapters are now in existence, in less than 12 months from the event. The first two were kicked off in 6 months. I sincerely thank the INW Diamond committee for making the historical event.

AvrylAvryl

Avryl thanks her INW teams

In the upcoming INW2021 event on 1 Feb, the same committee has extended the theme  “A World of Thanks”, by encouraging the entire region to care more and share more of their success stories to impact those who are already in BNI and to those that are not yet in BNI. The event’s purpose is to showcase the effectiveness of BNI through the power of stories. They have put together a range of success stories from members who have given beyond expectations for the community they are in. This year the event is online and it is easier to share our stories with the whole world.

I would also like to take this opportunity to thank the Directors, Ambassadors, Leadership Teams, Subject Matter Experts, and Trainers for their persistence and patience to support every member in 2020, one of the most difficult years for a large majority of us. A special mention to Pava and Yee Peng who has walked the extra mile to push forward and accepted more responsibilities for the good of others.

My sincere appreciation to everyone for making my journey in BNI for the last 20 years,  very memorable and fun.

Avryl Au |  KL West & KL South Regions, and Klang Valley, BNI Malaysia Executive Director

#BNIMalaysia #BNIChina  #AvrylAu

Frank

Changing the Way the World Does Business® (by Frank De Raffele Jr.)

International Networking Week®: “A World of Thanks” story submitted by Frank De Raffele Jr., BNI Executive Director, Hudson Valley Regions (New York, USA)

FrankAmericans are Too Selfish

What if I told you that I had wanted to get 80,000 people together in the USA to help grow each other’s businesses? Would you think Frank was crazy? Would you say it is impossible? Would you say to me, “Frank, Americans would never do that, they are too focused on themselves, they are too independent, they are too selfish”?

Well, they’re not.  For the last 36 years, hundreds of thousands of American business owners and sales professionals have worked together under the banner of BNI to live a Givers Gain life and to make a difference in each other’s lives.  For over one-third of a century, Americans with their entrepreneurial spirit have been thanking each other for referral business through BNI.

Frank’s Great Memory 

A few years back I was at a BNI chapter meeting.  Toward the end of the meeting, which is when everyone “gives back” to the chapter, a gentleman stood up and shared a big event he had going on that day.  He told the chapter of an appointment he had that morning to close the largest deal ever for his company.  It was NOT a BNI referral.  It was something he had been working on himself for over 3 years.  He was just so excited and proud of finally making it happen he wanted to share it with his “BNI family.”  When he finished telling of his accomplishment the room went wild.  Everyone stood up, applauded, hollered, shook his hand, and hugged him.

As I watched this happen, I thought, “This is amazing.  Where else does this happen?”  Where do you find a group of people who receive no benefit from your business yet are truly excited and happy for your success?  How crazy is it to have a group of people who want to help you grow your business, success, and desired lifestyle?  After, he said his family didn’t even react as his BNI chapter did.

I am Thankful

It hit me hard that morning how lucky and thankful I am for this lifestyle I lead. Through BNI I have built a community of people who are focused on growing their business by first helping others grow theirs.  A community of like-minded people who believe, live and practice Givers Gain.

In 2021 I am thankful for every Nurse, Doctor, Firefighter, EMT, and Police Officer that risks their lives every day for me. Someone they don’t even know. I am thankful for my wife that has put up with me for 30+ years. (God Bless Her!)  I am thankful for the person I am today because of my Mom and Dad.  They were amazing people and parents who taught my sisters and me the value of hard work, respect, honesty and giving to others.  The amazing part is that they didn’t talk much about giving to others, they just did it. My sisters and I learned it by watching them live it.

Finally, I am thankful for a man back in 1985 that decided the way for him to make more money at his business was to put a “referral group” together using the philosophy of Givers Gain.  A simple idea, that became a Global Network called BNI, and for 36 years has been, “Changing the way the world does business.”

My life has been affected in ways that Dr. Misner will never know.  That my family will never know. But I know. I know that I am a better person today than I was 28+ years ago when I first became a member. Thank you, Dr. Ivan Misner, and every leader I have met in BNI that has made me the person I am today.

Frank De Raffele Jr. | BNI Hudson Valley Regions Executive Director

#FrankDeRaffele #BNIUSA   

INW

Diana

We Have Your Back (by Diana Ninsiima Kibuuka)

International Networking Week®: “A World of Thanks” story submitted by Diana Ninsiima Kibuuka, National Director – BNI Uganda

DianaIn May 2005, we launched the first BNI Chapter in Uganda. It was an exciting event and I looked to the future with great expectation. Three weeks later, I had my son, and shortly after his birth, I was diagnosed with vertigo. Vertigo is a deliberating disease that incapacitates you and my doctors could not understand the cause or tell me how long I would be incapacitated.  I could not walk; I could not carry my baby and I could not lead the young BNI team.

After my diagnosis, I received a visit from my business partners, Bijay Shah and Muraguri Elizaphan, and the president of the chapter, Tracey Ntabazi. I could read the shock on their faces as they saw my condition. At that time I was a Launch DC and I had one thought “that my journey with BNI Uganda had to come to an end”. During the visit, I mentioned I did not know how long my condition would be persist.  Bijay, Muraguri, and Tracey left me with one clear message; until I was back on my feet, they had my back.

Today, I am the co-national director of BNI Uganda. The words shared with me in that season have stood the test of time and been proved over and over again. From that season, I embraced BNI Giver’s gain philosophy because I had seen it lived out. Today, BNI Uganda’s Kampala Region has some of the highest retention rates in the world, because we have a culture of watching out for each other and can confidently say to each other, “I have your back”.

Diana owes “Ulimwengu wa Shukrani” to members and leaders from across the world for walking with her and truly having her back:

  • Francios: ED from France: during my first global convention you shared your lessons from your ED experience and I believed I too could make a difference;
  • Runjhun Gupta: for the words of wisdom and courage you have shared in the past and continue to share;
  • Avryl Au: for initiating that conversation in which you expressed your interest in African Art and ultimately flying  over 11 hours to share your 20 years BNI experience with my BNI family;
  • Graham Southwell: for the conversation, we had over lunch when I attended my first Executive Council meeting;
  • Murali Srinivasan: thank you for the morning walks in Dubai and Warsaw and the wisdom you continue to share;
  • Claire Sherman: for answering all my questions graciously;
  • YP Lai: for the lessons you continue to share and doors your opportunities avail;
  • Kenny Olunbanjo and the team from Nigeria: for the celebrations and navigating this BNI journey together;
  • Mike and Beth Levin: you have shared of your resources and are ever ready to help;
  • Sandra Hart: for creating the platform from which so many told their stories and inspired me;
  • BNI Uganda family: you have watched out for each other and created opportunities for each other in all seasons;
  • Bijay, Anuradha, and Muraguri: for starting me off on a journey that has made it possible for us to make a difference together;
  • Mac Srinivasan: for your story to keep our years on the light and not waver; and lastly
  • Ivan Misner: a world of thanks, for without your courage we would not be.

Diana Ninsiima Kibuuka | BNI Uganda National Director

#BNIUganda     #DianaKibuuka    

Stories

We All Tell Stories

Today’s guest blog is an extract from “The Introvert’s Edge to Networking”, by Matthew Pollard about the transformative power of stories. Matthew is the founder and CEO of Rapid Growth, LLC. He is a good friend who has shared much of my content on his platform. I thought you might enjoy some of Matthew’s great material.

Bethany and Shan Jenkins were luxury custom home builders. They worked with people who wanted that “crown jewel,” the $3–$10 million home that blew you away. While networking, they’d meet people who wanted a home like this, but would say, “We’re looking for a designer now; we’ll reach out to you when we’re looking for a builder.” Or, “We have a builder we like already; we’re just looking for a designer to get it drafted.” When they’d try to network with realtors, the response was generally, “We already have a builder we recommend.”

But Jenkins Custom Homes isn’t just a builder—it’s a design-build firm. The distinction is important. When the design and build are done by separate firms, the two sides rarely communicate well with each other, leading to last-minute chaos. The stress can take its toll on a marriage, leave customers with a house they resent, and even turn a dream home into a nightmare. That’s why it’s so important to work with a design-build company who knows what the extras cost and how to design their client’s dream home within budget.

The Jenkins team had a problem communicating this. Bethany felt they came off sounding as though they were bad-mouthing the competition—or trying to scare prospects into giving Jenkins their business. I told Bethany we could create a system for her that leveraged her natural introverted strengths. She asked, “How do I not sound salesy when people say, ‘I’ve already got a relationship with a designer; I’m just looking for a builder’—or vice versa?” “Just tell them stories,” I said. “For example, have you ever had a prospect come to you with a designer’s plans, only to inform them that the design didn’t fit their budget?”

Stories Sell

Bethany told me about Megan, who came to their office, explained what she wanted, then handed over her designer’s plans. The discussion went well, so to conclude the meeting, Shan said, “Great, let us take a look over your plans in more detail and we’ll get back to you on a fixed price.”

Megan replied, quite anxiously, “Can you just give me a ballpark figure now?” Normally, it takes time to calculate all the costs correctly. But Megan was quite insistent. So, Shan gave her a rough guesstimate. Megan burst into tears. She told them that she had informed her designer what her budget was. But after getting the plans, she’d gone to four different builders whose prices were double what she’d budgeted. Megan had worked with her designer for two years to plan the home of her dreams . . . and now five builders had told her there was no way she could afford it. She was either going to have to cancel building her home or spend more money to design a lesser home, always knowing it wasn’t what she really wanted. “How could this happen?” she cried.

I said to Bethany, “As unfortunate as poor Megan’s situation is, it’s a perfect story for showing—not telling—people why working with a designer and builder separately is so risky.” Today, when networking, if someone says, “I’ve already got a relationship with a designer, I’m just looking for a builder,” Bethany simply responds, “Congratulations on starting the process toward your dream home. What a huge milestone. If you’ve already locked in with a designer you’re happy with, excellent. However, has anyone told you about going the designer-then-builder path versus the design-build path, and why it matters so much?”

Many look puzzled and say, “No, what’s that?” Bethany continues: “Well, the major difference is—actually, you know what? Let me give you an example. See, when Megan came to us . . .” Bethany then wraps it up with: “So, of course, I’m not saying if you design and build separately this will happen to you, and I really hope it doesn’t. However, regardless of whether you use us or another design-build option, I strongly suggest you explore the possibility.”

When they do, who do you think they’ll see as the only logical choice? Isn’t that so much easier than self-promotion or feeling like you’re coming across as instilling fear? A simple story neatly sidesteps all that. You’re not expressly telling them they’re doing it wrong, so it doesn’t come across as judgmental. You’re not lecturing. You’re not even saying they should hire you or that their way won’t work. Megan’s story served as a way to educate prospects on the risks while inspiring interest in a different solution. It showed that Bethany understood her listeners, their fears, and how to avoid them.

Megan’s story and two other stories catapulted Jenkins Custom Homes from an annual turnover of $6 million after almost twenty years of operation, to more than $18 million the following year. Moreover, it took an introvert from hating the idea of selling and networking to loving it and dominating her industry! That’s the transformative power of stories.

The Introvert’s Edge to Networking

Matthew Pollard’s new book, The Introvert’s Edge to Networking, is available now.

Download the first chapter free here and check it out for yourself.

Purchase your copy of The Introvert’s Edge to Networking today.

When you purchase, Matthew will also give you free instant access to over $700 worth of bonuses, including The Official Introvert’s Edge Step-By-Step Implementation Training and a personal invitation to his private Facebook community of like-minded introverts.

To claim your bonuses, sign up here with your name, email and order confirmation number.

Gratitude Effect

Thoughts on The Gratitude Effect on Thanksgiving

I have asked Greg Davies to write a guest blog for my website. Greg is one of my co-authors of the book, Infinite Giving“.  He is sharing the topic of “Thanksgiving”, which is a holiday occurring in the USA today. Even though Greg is from Great Britain, and never has celebrated Thanksgiving before, he is truly an expert on the gratitude effect.

This is a bit of a weird one, a blog about Thanksgiving from the co-author of Infinite Giving, the Seven Principles of Givers Gain, which was written by Two Brits and a Yank. Why is that weird, I hear you ask? Well, I can easily discuss the gratitude effect as explained in our book. However, I am firmly in the “Brits” camp and have not attended a single thanksgiving celebration in my entire life (as we don’t celebrate it in the UK). I found myself researching this iconic holiday for the first time. Here is Ivan’s Thanksgiving message from last year. Now at this point, I roll out the elementary school presentation.

The First Thanksgiving

In 1621, 90 Native Americans and 53 Pilgrims gave thanks for a successful harvest with a feast that lasted for at least 3 days, etc etc. Fast forward a few hundred years and we have Turkey, Mash, Pumpkin Pie, and the now infamous Black Friday. What I would much rather do, is point out that the “First Thanksgiving” was far from it.

Yes, it is the most referenced and the one that was recounted by attendee Edward Winslow in the American tradition and yes….well….maybe yes, it was the first where Pilgrims and Native Americans sat down and shared a meal (the jury is still out on that one), but the fact is those at the Plymouth Plantation would regularly give thanks for many different gifts that were bestowed upon them. The early Pilgrims would offer days of thanks for blessings such as military victory, end of a drought, recovery of a sick community member, and in this case, a successful harvest. They had built into their culture that when something good happens you need to take time to recognise it and say thank you.

The gratitude effect is not new-age, it’s science.

We cover this in the book, Chapter 11 Principle 7, The Gratitude Effect. There are some wonderful examples in the book of studies that show just how powerful saying “thank you” can be.

Gratitude, like so many other principles of success, is simple, but not easy.

The Pilgrims built gratitude into their religion and daily lives, it became a pillar of their belief and a cornerstone of their community, and for us to adopt this simple act will take a habit defining decision.

The gratitude effect requires a life-long journey of developing our ability to be grateful.

While the above may sound a little heavy, the actual effort involved in giving genuine gratitude is minuscule, but to begin with, it just feels weird. Try crossing your arms the other way, if you normally go left over right, go right over left or vice versa, SEE! IT JUST FEELS WEIRD. This has nothing to do with one way being right and the other wrong, it is just because your neuropathways have formed, and by doing it the other way, you are forging a new path.

That right there is the point, we must choose to forge a new path. We must accept that it may feel strange to begin with, but stick with it and recognise all of the wonderful things that are happening to us and say thank you. Then, a new habit has been formed.

The gratitude effect doesn’t take much effort and costs little or nothing.

I am thankful for the fact that I was asked to write this blog. I am thankful that in the single most challenging year that we as a planet will (hopefully) face in our lifetime, I have forged some of the strongest friendships, met some of the most inspirational people, and been touched by the light of human kindness like I never have been before. I hope that one day, people will give thanks for the difference I have made to them, because the real question is not who’s in our story but whose story are we in? Whose life have we made a difference in? Happy Thanksgiving from England, the original home of the Pilgrims.

Secret

The Secret Hidden in the Open

I’ve asked Robert Skrob to write another guest blog for my site.  Robert is also the author of “Retention Point, which I highly recommend.  He previously shared the topics of “The New Customers Experience”, “Creating a Vibrant Community Around Your Company” and “Creating Case Studies” on my blog.   Today, he is sharing a networking secret. Read closely – Robert is truly an expert.

There’s an ultimate test of physical endurance and mental fortitude: a six-day, 153.2 mile ultra-marathon across the Sahara desert called the Marathon des Sables (Marathon of the Sand). Competitors carry their own supplies as they compete in temperatures exceeding 120 degrees. The longest one-day distance covers 50.6 miles and includes 14.3 miles of sand dunes.

Four-time champion Mohamad Ahansal grew up in the Sahara. And in a place where most just try to survive, the skills Mohamad learned helped him become a winner in one of the most grueling footraces in the world. Since 1997, either Mohamad or his older brother, Lahcen, had won the race, until the 2014 year, when Rachid el Morabity, their trainee, beat Mohamad by seven minutes. Morabity has won the race each year since.

Morabity attributes his winning time to using a unique zigzag method to climb the large sand dunes that make up many miles of the race.

“Other runners, they go directly up the hill,” Morabity says. “They don’t notice the secret.”

Even though it’s easy enough to see the secret, instead of emulating the champion, competitors innovate their own improvements and try to barrel directly up the hill. Their intuition tells them that a straight line is the shortest distance and the shortest distance is always the quickest. Instead of learning from the proven results of the winner, they follow their less experienced intuition.

I used to think the same way. I’d learn a technique or a strategy from a mentor, and then I’d put my own spin on it. I’d say to myself “That may have worked for him, but I’m going to improve it and make it work even better for myself.”

It took me years to figure out my mentor’s technique was already improved. I was learning from the champion. There was no need for me to create my own innovations. Instead, I needed to get better at emulating what had already been proven to work.

I see people (who should know better) make this same mistake all the time. Instead of simply emulating what works, they try to make improvements. Or worse yet, they ignore the aspects that work and imitate the insignificant details.

They see, but they do not learn.

Within BNI, we have Ivan Misner, Ph.D. to learn from and emulate. He’s been networking, teaching networking and thinking about networking for more than 35 years. And yet, what do some new chapter officers do, make their own “improvements” to the system.

On its surface, following the system may appear difficult. It may seem like a harder way.

However, it’s similar to the Marathon des Sables champion’s “shortcut” of zigzagging back and forth while climbing sandy dues for miles. At first glance, the zigzagging appears to add more distance. Why would you want to add steps when you are already running 50 miles through a desert?

It’s because when you are running 50 miles through a desert, adding a few feet through slogging sand in an uphill climb saves you a lot of energy. That saved energy helps you endure longer and reach the finish line more quickly.

Too many people add features, change scripts or create innovations that reduce their own performance. What’s worse, they are also impacting the performance of every member of their chapter.

Instead, focus on following the system.

If you want to make changes, be clear about the goal you are trying to accomplish.  Become a scientist by first setting a hypothesis, “I believe making a change to ____ will increase referrals passed.”

If you can increase the number of referrals passed, Dr. Misner is eager to learn how you did it.

Dr. Misner approaches BNI as an engineer. If you can build a better, cheaper bridge in a shorter period of time, every engineer wants to know about that. Same with Dr. Misner and BNI, if you innovate a way to increase referrals within a chapter, then we all want to know about it.

But, making changes because you have a preference or belief isn’t good enough.  There are too many smart business people who are depending on the performance of your chapter to take any chances.

Follow the secret, hidden in plain sight. Then test innovations to determine their impact on your chapter.

Case Studies

How to Create Case Studies that Make Customers Buy, Engage and Ascend

I’ve asked Robert Skrob to write another guest blog for my site.  Robert is also the author of “Retention Point, which I highly recommend.  He previously shared the topics of “The New Customers Experience” and “Creating a Vibrant Community Around Your Company” on my blog.  Today, he is sharing the topic of creating case studies. Read closely – Robert is truly an expert.

Creating Case Studies

Your customer has three important decisions to make about you and your products. With each decision you have the opportunity to win or lose the customer.

Those decision points are:

  1. Should I give this product a try?
  2. I bought, is this really worth what I invested in time and money?
  3. I’ve been a customer for a while, I’ve enjoyed this in the past but is this still worthy of my time and money?

There’s one marketing tool that can help your customer choose you each time: a well-crafted client case study.

Really? A client case study?

Yes. These case studies and client stories are the most powerful tools you have on your side to foster strong relationships with potential customers, new customers, and long-time customers.

The publishing industry has undergone a huge transformation in recent years with subscriptions at historic lows. Today, Business Week is a shell of what it was with fewer than 950,000 subscribers each month. People Magazine, however, has more than 3.5 million subscribers. People want to read about other people.

Your customers want to hear about people like them. They want to hear stories of striving, overcoming, and of the underdog beating more powerful rivals. As great as your teachings and training resources are for your members, these stories are what they really want. You’ll attract and retain your customers in proportion to how well you deliver these stories.

These stories also prove that what you say is true. When you deliver example after example of individuals who have used your product or service and succeeded, you impact how your members think about your program and themselves. Even if a customer hasn’t gotten results. After reading or watching a video about one of your client success stories, they think, “Gee, maybe this is possible.”

After enough of these stories, your customer says to himself, “If that guy can do it, I can do it, too.” After this mindset transformation, she’s a lot more likely to use what she purchased and consider buying more. Which brings us to the question of the day:

How do you write a terrific client success story?

Recently, a long-time client asked me the following question about case studies; perhaps you have wondered something similar:

“My question for you is do you use these questions on clients based on what YOU did for them? YOUR process? Meaning, should I do these to sell myself and my product? Or do I put these forward as their own case studies of how my client became successful and leave me out? Then just mention some of the things I teach?”

On how far to promote yourself and your strategies in your case studies — it depends on the how you are using them.

If you are presenting case studies within a sales presentation, then you’ll want to make it clear where you were involved.

Or, if you are presenting this case study to existing members, you may be advocating a key philosophy. In this case, you may indicate the person is a member or client, then describe how using a particular product or service you sell created the impact.

To summarize: If you are in an overt sales situation, then be overt about your involvement. Then, in many other cases, it may be appropriate to illustrate the power of implementing your philosophy.

My formula for creating case studies is simple. I start by recording an interview with my member. I then provide the interview transcript to a writer to create a written case study.

Here are interview questions to get you started.

As you read the questions, replace the words “your member breakthrough process” with the name of your product or coaching program:

  • What’s your background? How did you get started doing what you are doing now?
  • How did you discover “your member breakthrough process”?
  • What did you think of it when you first saw it?
  • How did you get started implementing “your member breakthrough process”?
  • What has changed in your life since you discovered “your member breakthrough process”?
  • What advice do you have for someone else who has just discovered “your member breakthrough process” and is deciding whether or not to try it?

For best results I conduct these interviews personally. I can explore areas that would be interested to members by asking follow-up questions. However, if time is short I’ll often send these questions out as a survey instead.

Once I have a good interview recorded, I use the transcript to craft a compelling success story.

Once you have these case studies, you can use them in presentations, monthly newsletters, pull them together into books to give to prospects, or include them in email follow-up sequences to convert more prospects int customers.

Use demonstrations, capture case studies everywhere you can, and teach through examples rather than relying only on lectures.

Robert Skrob is the #1 expert in membership and customer retention and the author of the book, Retention Point The Single Biggest Secret to Membership and Subscription Growth. He has helped hundreds of membership programs launch and then grow from start-ups to become some of the largest membership and subscription companies in the world.

 

Vibrant Community

Creating a Vibrant Community Around Your Company by Robert Skrob

I’ve asked Robert Skrob to write another guest blog for my site.  Robert is also the author of “Retention Point, which I highly recommend.  He previously shared the topic of “The New Customers Experience” on my blog.  Today, he is sharing the topic of “Creating a Vibrant Community Around Your Company”. Read closely – Robert is truly an expert.

Creating a Vibrant Community Around Your Company

What if you had 45 percent of the available customers within your market?

The mutual fund company, The Vanguard Group, does just that. More than 45 percent of the money flowing into mutual funds today goes into a Vanguard managed fund.

You’d think they wouldn’t need to do much for their customers. Since they specialize in index traded, set-it-and-forget-it type investment vehicles, you’d think they wouldn’t need to communicate with their members. In fact, the opposite is true. The Vanguard Group has one of the most vibrant customer tribes in the investment world, and it’s a large part of their success.

The term “Boglehead” may not mean much to you, but I’ve been a Boglehead since 1991. Actually, we weren’t called Bogleheads then; instead, we were known as “Vanguard Diehards.”

While I pursued my master’s degree in accountancy from Florida State University, I wrote a paper about index fund investing. Mind you, this was during the big recession of 1990-1992. Through my research, I discovered that fewer than 30 percent of the professionally managed mutual fund companies beat the S&P 500 index in any one year. And a much smaller percentage could beat the index over a period of five or 10 years.

I figured if full-time professionals couldn’t consistently beat the S&P 500 index, why should I believe I could pick stocks any better working part-time? I became a believer in index fund investing and have stuck with it ever since. Of the index funds, The Vanguard Group is consistently the least expensive, so I’ve been squirreling away my savings there ever since.

Jack Bogle, the founder of The Vanguard Group, passed away in January 2019 at the age of 89 years old.

As the founder and while CEO of Vanguard, Jack was an avid promoter of index fund investing. He was an outspoken critic of high-fee mutual funds and “financial buccaneers offering a panoply of silly investment strategies that people may not understand.”

Jack Bogle created thousands of fans. One of them started a membership site called Bogleheads.org. It’s grown to have an annual meeting with appearances by The Vanguard Group executives, a field trip to Vanguard headquarters, and featured speakers from the world of personal finance.

You may have different opinions with regard to investing. You may be a financial advisor who offers investment vehicles that directly conflict with what’s published on Bogleheads.org. However, see Bogleheads.org is an excellent case study on how you can create a vibrant community around your company, no matter what you offer.

Within the “Start here” menu, Bogleheads.org outlines the investment philosophy first promoted by Jack Bogle during the 1980s.  This gets new members caught up on the values of the Boglehead community. In a word, it indoctrinates them. This is a critical piece that’s missing from most information marketing businesses.

Bogleheads.org gives its members valuable information (ROI), a connection to a community of like-minded people, an opportunity to contribute by posting content, recognition for being helpful to other members, and an opportunity to be part of something greater than themselves.

Even though the site has a dated design and the founder of the philosophy has passed away there are still thousands of active users every day.

Plus, for Vanguard, it insulates its members against all the conflicting investment offers within the marketplace. The community helps customers believe the single best investment option is low expense mutual funds. The same low-cost mutual funds Vanguard happens to specialize in delivering.

What if you had a community indoctrinating new customers into believing the products and services you offer are indeed the best solutions to your customers’ problems? Perhaps like Vanguard, you could own 45% or more of your market?

It all starts with your core values. BNI’s core values are Givers Gain®, Building Relationships, Lifelong Learning, Traditions + Innovation, Positive Attitude, Accountability, and Recognition. When BNI members experience the power these values have within their business life they become excited members for life.

What are the core values of your company?

For The Vanguard Group, Jack Bogle had to convince investors that index funds were the smarter way to invest. What must your customers believe and how should they behave to get the most value from what you deliver?

This may be an “advanced” marketing skill. But when it’s complete, it can give you a fast-growing world-wide business that leaves competitors scrambling for second place.

Robert Skrob is the #1 expert in membership and customer retention and the author of the book, Retention Point The Single Biggest Secret to Membership and Subscription Growth. He has helped hundreds of membership programs launch and then grow from start-ups to become some of the largest membership and subscription companies in the world.

New Customers

Are you pushing your new customers away or building trust for repeat business? by Robert Skrob

Today, I’ve asked Robert Skrob to do a guest blog for my site.  I thought it was fitting because Robert was recently a guest at my home to work on a new book that we are writing (the working title is: The Connector Effect).  Robert is also the author of “Retention Point, which I highly recommend.  I should also note that he was a great guest at our home. That statement has nothing to do with the incredible Cabernet Sauvignon that he gave us as a gift for staying with us.   Today, he is sharing the topic of “The New Customers Experience”.  Read closely – he is truly an expert.

The New Customers Experience

Imagine yourself walking into a restaurant at 3:32 p.m. It’s three hours past your regular lunchtime, and you are starving because you were in a hurry and skipped breakfast earlier, as well as your normal lunch. You have a headache from not eating. Just from feeling so hungry, you are grumpy and all-around sick. You finally get the attention of the hostess who was busy with table work as the lunch rush has long passed. The hostess walks you to a table where you are immediately greeted by your server. Your server takes one look at you and says, “You look hungry. I’m here to help you get the food you need, as quickly as possible. These are the three items that come out of the kitchen the fastest this time of day. They are 1. Salads 2. Soups and 3. Sandwiches. Would you like one of these three options, or would you like to see the entire menu?

How would you feel about that experience? A lot more confident, right? I know I’d be excited to have a server who recognized what I needed and dedicated herself to getting it to me as quickly as possible.

What if, instead, the server showed up with a tray full of desserts saying, “Darling, we’ve got a bunch of desserts left over from lunch. Here are some key lime pie, cheesecake, and a bowl of ice cream. Enjoy.”

I don’t know about you, but I’d be frustrated. Dessert may be fine later, but right now, I’m starving. I’d like to eat something before dessert. You’d likely feel the same way. You’d begin to wonder if you were in the right place or if you should find some other restaurant where the people working understand their job is to give real food (rather than desserts) to hungry people.

Too many businesses make a similar error with their customers. I’ve come across many who welcome their new customers with friendly conversations, follow-up calls from customer service reps. and/or gifts of cookies, coffee cups, and T-shirts. This is similar to delivering desserts to a hungry, grumpy, in-a-hurry guest in a restaurant.

Chances are, your customer didn’t join because he wanted to speak with someone from your support department. So when she receives the call, she’s thinking, “That’s nice, but this doesn’t solve my problem.” To you, it’s another contact to demonstrate you care. To your new customer, it feels like pestering.

If I buy your product to get a tool or to learn how to relieve some pain in my life, that’s what I’m going to be looking for. And anything I get that’s inconsistent with that solution is going to make me wonder if I can really trust you to deliver the solution you promised. So think: How can you craft the first thing your customer receives to be your version of the “Here are the three items we have that come out of the kitchen the fastest …” solution to your customer’s greatest hunger? After all, in order to make the sale, you did all you could to point out your customer’s pain points, irritate that pain, and make him so uncomfortable he couldn’t do anything but buy immediately. He’s ready, so why are you making him wait? And it’s not just friendly calls and gifts.

There’s a place for dessert at lunch. Let’s go back to our restaurant story. What if, after you enjoyed a hearty lunch, served promptly, the waitress came by with some free desserts? At that point, dessert would be awesome. Those desserts would have a tremendous impact. To have a positive impact on customer retention, you can deliver those bonus “desserts” after you’ve delivered on your core promises and have built trust with your new member. When your customer chooses to buy from you, you have a short window of time to solve the problems you promised to solve, or you will quickly lose their trust. This is your opportunity to deliver your very best solutions, quickly and concisely, so you can establish yourself as someone your customer can rely on.

Robert Skrob is the #1 expert in membership and customer retention and the author of the book, Retention Point The Single Biggest Secret to Membership and Subscription Growth. He has helped hundreds of membership programs launch and then grow from start-ups to become some of the largest membership and subscription companies in the world.

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