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Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Advice For Newbies in Business Networking International (BNI)

For anyone considering joining BNI .... or new to their business networking organization ... here's some tips.

You know .... nobody wants to know about your business if they don't know you. At BNI or anywhere.

Just follow the BNI training to the letter and you should do fine. That's the benefit of BNI over many other networks - they have a system and a process and they measure it. Brilliant!

Since BNI is all about referrals, you must get to know each of the members and what their business is about. And vice versa.

It's less about being "friends" (although you may certainly make some in your group) than it is about thinking of the members as your "sales team" .... and you are on their "sales teams" too.

What would you want to know about the people on your "sales team"? What would you want them to know about you? And also about your business so they could refer you with confidence?

You'll learn how to do that when you take your MSP training after you join.

Keep these in mind ......

- Practice your 60 second educational. Map out 50 weeks worth of lessons.

- Make sure each week you tell something new about what you do.

- Take your MSP as soon as possible.

Remember ......

1) The members are not your target audience. Do not try and sell them as clients.

2) Do not try and get them to become sales agents for you. They will get you referrals for people who need your product/service.

3) Get referrals for others. Remember ..... "Givers Gain".

Not just in BNI, but in any situation when networking with others... it's a good rule of thumb to make initial conversations about THEM. Asking what you can help them with (not for your business, for referring folks YOU know in your network to help them).

Again, no one in your BNI group should be seen as a potential client/customer. It's at least 3-4 people deep from them, that you want to reach. You do this by building rapport. Doing a Dance Card (where you set up a coffee chat or lunch break with another member to get to know them) is a recommended way to achieve rapport with other chapter/group members and is practiced widely at the BNI meetings.

Here's a great link to an interview with the founder of BNI Ivan Misner last week:

Interview With BNI Founder Ivan Misner

The interview has some great info on how to make it easy for network partners to be able to refer even a difficult-to-refer business.

Also remember this ..... you are only allowed to miss a few meetings and then you are ousted from the group. This is not done to be cruel. It is to demonstrate to the members of the group that this organization is serious about business networking. It requires commitment. Also, the money that you spend to become a member of BNI is not refunded to you if you are ousted. Once again, BNI is about serious business networking.

Their mantra is the "Givers Gain", and if that is in the forefront of your thought process, you will succeed. Actually, that goes for everything in life, not just BNI!

1 comment:

The Secret said...

Makes absolute sense. Very practical advice. They key is to follow the training and practice by applying what you learn weekly.