The 10 Commandments of Business Networking

A friend of mine, Melinda Potcher, adapted some of my material and created the 10 Commandments of Business Networking.

She did a great job, and I thought I’d share it with everyone here on my blog.


1. Thou Shalt Not Sell To Me. If we’re trying to help one another get more business, you tell me your target market, I tell you my target market and when we are out in the world, we speak well of one another and refer one another. Do not try to sell me–I’m your referral resource. If I need your product or service, know that I will call you.  Use our relationship to sell through me, to get to those 250-plus people I know.

2. Thou Shalt Understand The Law of Reciprocity. If I’m sending you business, please keep me top of mind. Giving me a new client is the best thank you I can receive, and I will continue working to find you referrals if I know you appreciate me.

3. Thou Shalt Not Abuse Our Relationship. Sending me a bogus referral just to use me, my expertise or my resources for free without asking permission first is the fastest way to lose my respect.

4. Thou Shalt Not Be Late . If we have a meeting set to get to know one another and strategize how we can refer each other business, do not reschedule our appointment more than twice. I blocked a chunk of time in my schedule FOR YOU, and I respect you enough to be on time.

5. Thou Shalt Be Specific . Specific Is Terrific! If you tell me your target market is “anybody” or “everybody,” that means nobody to me. The more specific you are, the easier it will be for me to find you business.

6. Thou Shalt Take Your Business Seriously . As your networking partner, I need to know your intentions.If your company is a hobby business, it will be difficult for me to assist you. If it’s part-time, you are limited in the time you spend working on your business and working to find me referrals. However, if you’re working your business part time with a goal of making it full time, I am there for you, 100 percent.

7. Thou Shalt Follow Up On Referrals. When I send you business, please follow up with that prospect in a timely fashion–say 24 hours. If you’re going out of town or will not be available for some time, a quick e-mail or phone call to the person to let them know when you will be available will preserve your credibility and protect my reputation in recommending you to someone I know and care about.

8. Thou Shalt Communicate. If I do something to upset you, send you a “bad” referral or cause you to have ill feelings toward me, please communicate with me as soon as possible. I may not be aware I have caused a problem for you; if you tell me, I can try to fix it. Referral networking is about relationships! Relationships and referrals are at the heart of my business.

9. Thou Shalt Protect My Reputation. Most people would rather die than risk their reputations. If I receive feedback from a referral I have sent you that is disparaging or derogatory, it is as though you cut me off at the knees. Please do what you say you will do and live up to the ethical standards of your profession.

10. Thou Shalt Prepare For Success. If you really want to grow your business, then prepare to receive it. I will move mountains for my networking partners to ensure they get referrals on a consistent basis. I am a Ninja Networker–you may not always see me working on your behalf.

Thanks to Melinda. You can visit her website at:

What do you think?  Would you add anything to this list (OK, I know you can’t have “11 Commandments,” but play with me here).

16 thoughts on “The 10 Commandments of Business Networking

  1. Melinda & Ivan,

    This is great! Here’s a possible #11: Thou Shall “Walk the Talk”. I shall do as I say and I expect the same from you. This holds us both accountable to each other, which is fundemental to our mutual succcess.


  2. “Thou shall dress appropriately”. Remember, if you wearing an “I’M WITH STUPID” t- shirt, even if you’re alone, you’re right!
    Great job, Melinda!

    Shawn McCarthy BNI ED Ventura County, Ca.

  3. I love how you said “I am a Ninja Networker” and ensuring my networking partners are getting referrals on a consistent basis. I believe if everyone in BNI took this to heart, we would be giving more which in turn would help everyone to receive more.

    Ray Gonzales
    BNI Area Director
    Ventura County, CA

  4. This morning at a BNI meeting, I was very specific with my ask today. This is a habit I have formed as a result of being an area director for BNI of Michigan. Today, I was subbing for another person from our Interactive Marketing firm and I asked for the members to recommend our services to someone Basso Design Group already has a proposal in to.

    The chapter president stood up during the I Have portion of the meeting and said he knew the exact person I was looking for. Larry and I talked after the meeting and he just sent an e-mail on our behalf using the language we agreed on. Funny how being specific can work!

  5. Hi Dr. Misner,

    This is a great post. Nice work, Melinda. Boy I would love to be on your power team.

    I can’t come up with #11, so how about #10.5: “If a referral partner recommends you to a client with needs that exceed your level of expertise, DO NOT fake it until make it. Rather pass it on to a more qualified provider, even if they are a known competitor of yours. The results may surprise you.”

    Of course you will want to promptly contact your referral partner to explain what you did and why so that their future referrals are more on target for you.

    High Regards,
    Tom Doiron

  6. Great stuff!!

    Communicate with me and my referral the way we want to be communicated with. If I ask you to CALL the person, don’t email them, and vice-versa. And if they aren’t calling you back, let me know it so I can help!

  7. You’ve really covered all the bases here, but just an elaboration on #6 regarding taking one’s business seriously. There was an idea presented at a leadership training that went something like this, “If there was something you were doing that got in the way of you achieving the level of success you desire, would you want to know about it?” Sometimes, a person is standing in their own way and truly doesn’t realize it.

  8. #1 is the king. It is so difficult to train the sales team to understand that you’re not in the business of selling, you’re in the business of educating. The customer that feels like they’re making an educated purchase and feels that they came to the decision themselves is the best.

  9. Some of us are born networkers. Others, not so much. I appreciate this post and the reminders and tips it includes. Reciprocity is my focus for 2017. Thanks again, Dr. Ivan.

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