The Power of One Conversation

The Power of One Conversationstring(29) "The Power of One Conversation"

Sometimes one conversation can create the pebble-in-the-pond dynamic that changes people’s lives. It may be a kind word to someone you know who is feeling overwhelmed or despondent. It may be a helpful gesture to someone you don’t know who needed to feel noticed that day. It can even be an invitation to a business networking event. This is the story of one such invitation.

The Power of One Invitation

A realtor in the U.S. was attending a local Chamber of Commerce mixer where a woman introduced herself and they began talking. At the end of the conversation she said, “I am part of a business networking group and we have breakfast every Wednesday morning. I’d love to invite you to breakfast, would you like to come?” He replied, “Absolutely.” On the following Wednesday he attended the meeting and was very impressed. He felt welcomed when he arrived and was pleasantly surprised with the structured way the meeting was run and with the business referrals that were being passed between the members. After the meeting, he chatted with some of them, and they invited him back for a second visit the following week.

The next week when he returned to the networking group, he found out that there could only be ONE residential realtor in that chapter. The member who was the realtor happened to be someone he knew, and she said to him, “You ought to think about starting your own chapter.” She then gave him the name and contact information of the person who could answer any questions if he wanted to find out more about it.

He called that day and after an hour-long conversation they decided to start a new BNI® chapter. That chapter grew into a group of businesspeople who built deep professional relationships with each other. Along with passing referrals that turn into revenue for each other’s companies, they care about and support each other.

A Culture of Caring

When devastating wildfires went through their community, 900 houses were lost. Several of the chapter members and their families were among those evacuated from their homes. Their fellow BNI members welcomed them into their homes, giving them a place to stay during those fires.

Yes, that one conversation between two attendees of a networking event was very powerful. It brought together dozens of people who created a group with a culture of caring and of welcoming visitors. They’ve passed referrals that have generated hundreds of thousands of dollars in closed business for the members of the group. That one conversation grew into a caring community that goes beyond a weekly chapter meeting. It brought together people who support each other with a Givers Gain® attitude and a genuine desire to help each other succeed.   

Do you have a networking story about one conversation?  I invite you to share it here.


Becoming a Master Connectorstring(27) "Becoming a Master Connector"

Master Connectors are the individuals within every community that other people go to when they have a problem and need to find a solution. Master Connectors naturally attract people to them, both customers and the people who need someone to help with finding solutions. Becoming a Master Connector makes business easier because people are coming to you rather than you always having to go find them; it is a way to generate more referrals and more revenue for your business.

It’s no secret that some people do better than others in life. Is it because they are lucky? No, I think it’s because of two things. One, the harder you work, the luckier you get. And two, it’s about working smarter, not just harder. Becoming a Master Connector is about working harder and, more importantly, working smarter. Master Connectors exemplify the philosophy of Givers Gain® by helping others with the attitude: If I help you and you help me, we will all do better as a result.

It Starts with Attitude

The good news is that becoming a Master Connector doesn’t require years of experience. It only requires a positive attitude, a “give-first” state of mind, and a willingness to commit to learning how to become a Master Connector. 

Master Connectors do more one-to-one meetings with fellow members of their networking group. They give more referrals, and they’re the first to step forward to mentor someone when help is needed. They bring more visitors to their networking meetings, and they help interested visitors to become members. It is not surprising that they build strong, long-lasting relationships and receive more referrals than most people.

The Connector Effect

In my book, The Connector Effect, co-authored with Graham Weihmiller and Robert Skrob, we talk about the “Connector Effect” as your ability to attract people to you. It grows in proportion to your referral network and your ability to solve problems for your friends, family, and your best customers by referring those people to the members in your business network. The more members that you have within your network, the more problems you’re able to help solve for people you know outside of your networking group. You connect people who have a need to the trusted members of your network who can help them. And because your referral partners also trust you and your expertise in your field, they pass referrals of their friends, family, and clients to you.

My Path to Master Connector

When I started BNI® in 1985, I really wanted to be a connector. That was my focus, I wanted to connect people. So, every two or three months I would mail a two-page paper letter to hundreds of people that were in my database, which, at the time, consisted of my Rolodex. The cover letter said, “One of the things I like to do is to build relationships and connect people. Attached is a single sheet of paper with the names of professions that you might have a need for. If you do, just call me and I’ll put you in touch with somebody who handles that.” The second page of the letter had a list of trusted business professionals that I knew and did business with. It did not have their names, it did not have their phone numbers – it only had their type of business profession.

It took about six months to a year, but people started calling me and asking, “Hey, do you know this person? Do you know that person?” I didn’t give the phone numbers in my letter because I wanted to make the connection personally. And that is how I started my path to becoming a Master Connector and ended up building BNI.

Master Connectors love to help people. They practice lifelong learning and continuously hone their skills by doing six things a thousand times rather than doing a thousand things six times.
They know that business networking is more about farming than it is about hunting, and they know how to reap the harvest related to the connections that they make.

Is Your Networking Group Missing This One Critical Step?string(56) "Is Your Networking Group Missing This One Critical Step?"

Photo courtesy of arztsamui at

Photo courtesy of arztsamui at

Engagement is an absolutely critical step in the networking process.  It involves a promise and an action.  In order to achieve success in your group of networking relationships, you and your relationships must promise to support one another and then take the actions necessary to fulfill that promise.

There are many ways that you can become engaged.  Have you taken the time to regularly meet with the people in your network?  Have you taken the time to educate them regularly on the key features of your business so that your products or services will be top of mind in the event they meet someone with a need for what you supply?  Have you taken the time to become educated on the key features of your networking relationships’ businesses so that you can do the same?

The higher the number of people in your network who are engaged in these activities, the more likely it is that the entire group will be generating more referrals.  The reason for this is a shared vision of success and a shared implementation of that vision.

Another way to be actively engaged and educated about each others’ businesses is to do regular and consistent meetings.  Over and over, I see that business owners who have regular one-to-one meetings with their business networking relationships tend to both give AND get more referrals.

Lastly, are you focusing on what your going to say about your business when you meet with people?  The best way to ensure your referral sources are going to remember what you do is to focus on communicating your business to them by breaking it down into laser-specific elements.  Sharp-shoot your pitch, don’t shotgun it.  In each of your regular one-to-one meetings, talk about one key element, product, or benefit of what you do.

According to Psychology Today, research has found that people who are “actively engaged” in a business environment are “43% more productive” than those who are not.  Furthermore, they state that engagement includes “regular dialogue, quality of working relationships, perceptions of ethos and values of the organization, and recognition.”  There’s research behind my recommending reciprocal engagement between you and your referral partners.  In fact, it’s critical to your success–and theirs.

This week, think about new ways in which you can support your networking partners in order to promote engagement within your networking group.  I’d love to hear what ideas you come up with so please leave your thoughts in the comment forum below. Thanks!

Make No Assumptionsstring(19) "Make No Assumptions"

Many people make the fatal mistake of assuming that others know a lot about their business. I heard a florist tell a networking group, “I’m not sure what else to say.  You all know what a florist does, right?”  Wrong!  We didn’t know the variety of products this florist provided.  He knew his business and assumed that everyone else knew it as well.  Later, I asked him whether his shop was an FTD florist and . . .

  • Did he accept credit cards?
  • Did he offer seasonal specials for holidays?  If so, which ones?
  • Did he handle emergency orders?
  • Could he do a good job for weddings?
  • Did he give a discount to members of his networking group?
  • Could I set up a billing arrangement with his company?
  • Could I order online?
  • Do certain colors of roses signify certain things?
  • What type of floral arrangement would be appropriate for a graduation?
  • Could he give me any tips on keeping flowers alive longer?
  • What was his most challenging order?

I told him there were hundreds of things I didn’t know about his business, and others surely felt the same way.  Not using his time with the networking group to tell everyone something about his service was an opportunity lost.

Everyone has something he can say that will educate people about the services he has to offer.  Don’t pass up a chance to teach people more about what you do!

Try making a list of questions, such as the ones above, that people might ask you about your business and then try focusing on answering one question each time you attend a networking meeting — you’d be surprised at the things people really have no idea that you do!