Yes, it does. Business networking is an important aspect of professional growth and success. Whether you are self-employed or you are a professional working within a larger organization as an employee, I believe it is worth the time and effort to find networking groups that can refer new business to you. If you currently work for someone, I suggest you take steps to persuade your employer that you will get business by working with these groups. The following story demonstrates the ways that networking can be beneficial to you.
The Bank Manager’s Triumph: A Networking Success Story
Several years ago, I met a bank manager who was diligently attempting to persuade his supervisor that participation in a BNI® chapter would yield substantial results for his branch. The supervisor reluctantly agreed to let him become a member on a trial basis. The bank manager began getting referrals soon after joining the group. After several months, a fellow member gave him a particularly good referral; it was a man who was disgruntled with the level of service at his current bank. The manager decided to visit the man at his company. The man told the bank manager that he felt he was not getting personal service from his bank. The manager assured him that his bank prided itself on service. He gave the man his personal mobile and his home phone number and told him that if there were ever a problem, he could be reached any time of day, at home or at work. The man thanked him for coming to his office and told him he would get back to him.
Two days later, at exactly 9:00 a.m., the man was standing at the bank door with several savings and checkbooks in hand. The branch manager met him at the door and thanked him for coming to his branch. The man said he was impressed with the way he was handled by the manager and that he had decided to transfer his accounts to the manager’s bank. To the astonishment of the bank manager, the new customer handed over checking, savings, and money-market accounts totaling over $950,000! After everything was completed, the man told the manager how glad he was to be referred to him by their mutual friend.
News of the Referral Got Around
I first heard this story when my office, BNI Headquarters, started getting phone calls from every branch manager in Southern California, USA, who worked for that particular bank. Each of them wanted information about a local BNI chapter in their area. When the bank manager who got the $950,000 referral told his supervisor where he got the referral from, the supervisor (Remember him? He was the reluctant one.) called all his other branch managers and told them to join a local BNI chapter within the next two weeks. The transformative power of effective networking had not only boosted individual success, it had also become a catalyst for organizational change.
Lessons for Employees: Persuasion and Initiative
For those of you working as employees, the bank manager’s triumph offers valuable lessons – the biggest one is persuade your supervisor. Convincing supervisors of the merits of business networking is often the first hurdle. I spoke to an individual who was eager to join a networking group but faced continued resistance from his boss, who cited budget constraints and said the company would not pay for it. Undeterred, the savvy salesman proposed a compelling deal: he would personally fund the membership, and if he secured two referrals resulting in sales within the thirty days, the company would reimburse him. The boss said, “Sure, if you come in with two sales, I’ll see to it that the company pays for the membership.”
Highly motivated by the potential for success, the salesman closed three sales and was working on four more by the end of the first month. True to their agreement, the boss covered the initial membership cost and then paid for the renewal, acknowledging the tangible benefits derived from the salesman’s networking efforts. This story underscores the transformative impact that personal initiative and persuasive communication can have in creating a supportive environment within a company for networking.
Networking – A Cultural Shift
The bank manager’s success and the subsequent organizational response highlight the opportunity for a cultural shift within companies. The reluctance of the supervisor who was initially hesitant about the networking idea, transformed into proactive encouragement for all branch managers to join local BNI chapters. This shift reflects the recognition that networking is more than an individual pursuit; it can be a strategic advantage for the entire organization.
Creating a culture that values and promotes networking involves leadership buy-in, consistent communication, and the showcasing of tangible results. The success stories that emerge from individual networking efforts can serve as powerful tools to persuade employers of the broader benefits. Organizations that actively support and facilitate business networking initiatives are more likely to foster innovation, collaboration, and a heightened sense of community among employees.
Virtual Platforms and Global Reach
In today’s digital age, the landscape of networking has expanded beyond traditional face-to-face interactions. Virtual platforms and online communities provide avenues for connecting with professionals globally, transcending geographical boundaries. While in-person networking remains invaluable, the digital realm offers unique opportunities for expanding one’s network and accessing a diverse range of perspectives. Embracing this digital shift allows individuals and organizations to tap into global networking and business opportunities.
The Enduring Impact of Networking
The bank manager’s triumph serves as a testament to the enduring impact of strategic business networking. Whether you’re a self-employed professional seeking to carve your niche or an employee within a larger organization aiming to create a culture of collaboration, networking is an invaluable asset.
The lessons learned from the stories in this blog extend beyond individual success to encompass organizational growth and cultural transformation. By recognizing the potential of business networking, and actively pursuing professional relationships, individuals and companies alike can unlock doors to new referral opportunities. Whether you are self-employed or you work for someone else, I recommend that you start looking for networking groups that can refer new business to you.