Archive for BNI Fundamentals


Building Trust In The Sun

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sunsmallerFrom Christmas to 26 January, Australia turns into a different kind of  place.

The roads are deserted in the cities, people dress more casually at work, they go home earlier – and generally take life less seriously. The six or so weeks of the traditional Australian Summer Break show the country in a different light.

And the weeks leading up to Christmas are generally a madhouse of tying up loose ends at work, while juggling an endless stream of end-of-year and Christmas functions.

It’s a lot of fun, that’s for sure … but February can feel like a real hangover.

Because during the last weeks before Christmas and after up to Australia Day, we’ve mostly ignored our marketing activities. Especially our networking and relationship marketing have suffered, and now suddenly it’s February, our cash reserves have dwindled and we need to get some new customers, quick smart.

It can be a tricky time.

Here are some thoughts to make your February feel much better than it might have in previous years.

Doing Your Best In January

Firstly a couple of words about your BNI group:

Many chapters generally slow down during January. If your group is one of those, think about this: the breakfast meetings are primarily designed to impress visitors. Just because your chapter slows down during January, that doesn’t mean you need to stop doing your best for your fellow members.

So schedule in some January one-on-ones, and make a commitment to yourself to spend two hours a week during January on BNI related activities.

Remember we do one-on-ones because of the old saying “people do business with people they know, like and trust”. Business is about people who trust each other. We get to trust each other more as we get to know each other more. It’s not actually about getting to know each other’s businesses so much: it’s about getting to know each other as people. The more I get to know you as a person, the more I will get to trust you – and the more likely it is that I will want to do business with you.

Networking On The Beach

Having some one-to-ones in the summer season in a more relaxed setting and mindset may really help to foster deeper trust. Here are a few ideas:

  • Go and have your one-on-one at a cafe by the beach, in your board shorts. For that matter, why not have your meeting at the beach?
  • Another cool thing to do might be to organise a day at the cricket with a bunch of your BNI colleagues. Plenty of opportunity to talk about business and referrals during a day watching the red ball.
  • Or, maybe you have someone in your group with a boat? Organise a few hours on the water with a bunch of your referral partners. Lots of good opportunity to get to know each other and each other’s businesses better as well.

Referral marketing always starts with one word: Trust.Building trust is rewarding … And there’s no reason you can’t build trust while having fun in the sun.

More Free Time

Besides continuing to build trust in your BNI group, here are some other things to think about during the summer period to keep some good energy in your marketing activities.

  • Most businesses still operate during the break, sometimes on a skeleton staff, and business doesn’t cease during January (although it can sometimes feel that way). So there is actually no reason to slow down too much in your marketing activities.
  • What’s more, people have more time to read what you send them and more opportunities to take time to talk with you.
  • So make sure you send them some good stuff to read, stuff that gives them something to think about – and call a couple of your prospects or clients every week and invite them to have lunch or breakfast.

You’ll be surprised how effective it will be …

I promise you.

Roland-Hanekroot-Web-001This article was written by Roland Hanekroot from New Perspectives Business Coaching.

Roland is the owner of New Perspectives Business Coaching, and the author of “The Ten Truths Trilogy” Business books for business owners who don’t like reading business books, but know that they should. Along with being a 9 year BNI veteran he helps small business owners have more fun in their business and build a business that will sustain them for many years to come.


There are few women who are better at building a global network than Hazel. Renowned for her straight talk, and a no-holds-barred approach on many subjects, Hazel is a globally sought-after speaker. Her extensive background in developing and cultivating business relationships has been globally recognised by BNI (Business Network International), earning her the title “Queen of Networking” all over the world.  Glenn and Paul interview Hazel to get a better understanding how the Queen of Networking has become the international success she is today.

Listen in here.

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It’s not “Net-Sit” or “Net-Eat” – It’s “Network”. Successful networking is about learning how to ‘work’ the networking process – not just letting it happen.

In many ways, success at networking is the perfect example of the uncommon application of common knowledge. Most people understand that networking is important to their success – they just lack the step by step process to get the results they want.  Almost no one really incorporates a comprehensive methodology that will build a business through networking. Thus, the need to network is “common knowledge”, and the development of the methodology required to be successful at it is the “uncommon application”

We have found that businesspeople tend to fall into one of two groups when it comes to their views on networking. For many, the current mindset is that networking is a passive business strategy, not a proactive marketing tool. This attitude results in a scattered, often ineffective networking approach that consequently wastes the business owners time and money. Not surprisingly, when people feel they’ve been wasting their time and money on something, they’re understandably not going to continue.

On the other hand, some proprietors do consider networking a proactive marketing tool for their business. How can you tell? They make it a significant part of their marketing and business plans. They have networking goals. They may even have a budget line item for networking. Most importantly, they practice it and live it every day.

Networking for business growth must be strategic and focused. Not everyone you meet can help you move your business forward – but everything you do can be driven by the intention to grow your business. 

You have total control over who you meet, where you meet them, and how you develop and leverage relationships for mutual benefit.

Great networkers move their business forward, but they don’t do it alone. Great networkers have a plan, work to expand their network, go the extra mile, know how to get the most value for their time, communicate their message effectively, become the experts, capture their best stories and do what others don’t do.

People are drawn to them. New client go to them because they hear about them from so many people. Great networkers don’t need to do much selling, because many people come to them, ready to buy.

Imagine that! People coming to you, ready to buy! Are you smiling? You should be. Becoming a great, effective networker is within your reach. Your income is directly related to your ability to network your business for growth. Are you ready to get started?

Are you committed to actively growing your business by word of mouth? Have you decided that now is the time for you to advance from good to great?

If you’re ready, then let’s begin by discovering how well you are networking your business right now.  What are you doing well, and what are you doing not so well? You have to understand this in order to know where you are going.

We’ve made the process a little easier by providing you a structured self assessment tool. Using this exercise you can identify your strengths and weaknesses.  Be honest. Be brutally honest.

It will help you focus on specific goals and accountabilities – and, without a doubt, it will keep you focused on the true meaning of business networking.

Complete your self assessment here.

Taken from The 29% Solution by Ivan Misner.  For more information and how to make really changes in your networking, pick up your copy here.


Set Networking Goals

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Do you have goals for your business? Do you have marketing goals and sales goals? This is a perfect example of the concept we mentioned earlier: the “uncommon application of common knowledge”. We all know intellectually that goals are important. The question is, how well do we apply that knowledge?

How about networking goals? If you don’t have any, believe it or not, you are in the majority. Obviously you believe in the power of networking or you would not have purchased this book. Why, then, have you not written networking goals for your business?

Networking seems to be one of those things that many people do as a reaction to no or slow business. It often gets forgotten. It is rarely treated as an integral part of how we grow our businesses. Not only is it frequently neglected, but most people are haphazard in their approach to networking, and far from systematic. This approach to networking can keep you from ever getting close to the 29%. This first strategy helps you avoid the pitfalls of treating networking as an afterthought – as something far less than what it can be for your business.

One way to systematize and organize your approach to networking is to set measurable networking goals. As our friends Denna Tucci Schmitt (owner of BNI Western Pennsylvania) often says, “Without a goal, you have nothing at which to aim.” We would add that if you don’t have a goal, you can’t measure your results. “That which gets written, gets done,” as our colleague Tom Fleming in Florida would say.

One way to systematize and organize your approach to networking is to set measurable networking goals.


Each goal you create should be SMART: Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant and Timed with a deadline. Let’s take a moment to clarify the concept of a SMART goal.

Specific. The goal must be clearly defined with parameters that state who, what, when, where and how. Specific goals help you stay focused on one thing at a time. For example, stating that you want to become a member of a networking group is fine, but you can define your goal more clearly by saying that you want to become a member of a specific chamber of a particular BNI chapter.

Measurable. The goal must include a way of measuring the results. This typically means that there is a number of associated with the goal, such as how many or what percentage – some quantifiable way to measure progress towards the goal. Stating that you want to receive more referrals this year is neither specific nor measurable; it’s more useful to say specifically that you want a 30 percent increase in your referral business from a networking group.

Attainable. Each goal that you create must be within reach. It should not be so far-fetched that it’s out of your vision. To determine whether a goal is attainable, consider what you accomplished this year. then consider what you have coming up next year that may either impede or improve your ability to meet a specific goal. Finally consider everything that needs to be done to accomplish your goal. When all is said and done, do you honestly feel that with hard work, dedication, and focus, you can meet this goal? If so, write it down and commit to achieving it.

Relevant. The goal must have relevance and meaning for you; otherwise, you will not be motivated to accomplish it. What will be the outcome if you meet a particular goal? Will you make more money? Will you have a higher quality of life? Will you be able to save for retirement more comfortably? Will you get a promotion or a raise? Will you save time in the long run? Whatever your personal motivation, ensure that your goals tap into it. Doing so will inspire you every day to keep striving towards the finish line.

Timed. Speaking of a finish line, the goal must have a deadline or completion date assigned to it. Without one, you will lose your focus and your desire to meet your goals in a timely  manner. Our human competitive nature draws us to the finish line. We need to aim for a target. For example, stating that you want a 30 percent increase in your referral business from your participation in a networking group is indeed specific and measurable, but how long will it take, and when will you measure it? Stating that you want a 30 percent increase in your annual referral business from the organisation by December 31 will be much more effective, because it contains a deadline.

When you put all of these elements together, you might end up with a goal statement that looks like one of these

  • I will become a member of the ABC Chamber by June 30
  • I will achieve a 30 percent increase in my annual referral business from networking in [a certain networking group] by December 31

We know that setting – “SMART” goals – can be difficult. But we’ve also seen how powerful they can be, as well as the consequences of not giving them their due. Collectively, your two coauthors have written many training curricula. Each one starts with a goal in mind. We’ve been well trained, for how can we even begin to organize material into a training seminar without first having the end in mind? We typically formulate a set of questions that must be answered before we can move ahead to design the curriculum.

Steven Covey validates this concept in his The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People. One of his strategies is to “begin with the end in mind”. The questions below, adapted from his book, will help you focus on what you want to accomplish through networking. Once you being your own goal-setting process, however, don’t limit yourself to these questions.

Week 1 Action

Your task this week is to answer – in writing, not simply in your head – each of the following questions as honestly and as fully as you can. They will provide a structure that will help you create your goal statements. Besides, you have to set your goals before you can design a plan for meeting them. We’ll focus on developing that plan in Week 2, so we encourage you to approach this goal-setting process with enthusiasm and diligence. (Remember, you’re building that foundation for your networking home!)

Questions for Sample Networking GOALS

  1. How much business do you want to get from word-of-mouth referrals, and by when?
    1. What do you need to do for this to happen?
    2. Who will bring you this business?
    3. What kind of business do you expect to get from referrals?
    4. Will the referrals focus on a specific product or service?
  2. How many networking functions will you attend each month?
    1. How will you find out about these functions?
    2. What will you accomplish at these functions?
  3. How many referrals do you want each week? Each month?
  4. How many of the techniques in this book will you begin each month?
  5. What five things will you do differently to network your business?
  6. With whom do you want to meet this year? (List anything that comes to mind: businesses, professions, names of specific people you’d like to meet.)
  7. Of which networking groups would you like to become a member this year?

Taken from The 29% Solutions.  Now available in an Australian edition.  Contact your local director for more information.

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Good marketing starts with a clear definition of your target market.  In fact any good marketing text will tell you that it is crucial to identify your target market if you want to be successful in business.  You must know who your target is so that you can craft the best marketing message to adequately convey the value you offer to any potential buyer.  Understanding your target market enables you to design the features or services that you will take to market.  This could include things like price, packaging, distribution and a range of other issues that impact on market share.

Put simply it comes down to three basic facts:

  • Who wants my product or service?
  • Where will they find them?
  • How will I reach these potential buyers with such a compelling message that they will buy what I have to offer?

Doing business by referral revolves around generating referrals that result in closed sales.  In referral marketing the marketing message is always the same.  It all starts with a clearly defined target market.

Why is target market so important?

There are many reasons why target market is so important.  A clearly defined market will enable you to create word of mouth marketing within a specific buying group so that business comes to you.  How do you become known and get people to refer to you?

You could join a business group, trade Association or Club and build relationships with people within that target market.  You could write articles for that target market or offer to serve in a leadership capacity within the Association or Club.  As people in that target market begin to get to know you either personally or by your reputation and they hear good things about the services you provide, they may seek you out and buy from you.

OK, so you understand the power of word of mouth advertising, how do you use that to generate more business?  If you have the luxury of a small target market you can simply create a positive referral based business by doing a great job and relying on the satisfied customers you have to spread the word about you among the rest of that target market.  Sadly we don’t always have small and concentrated target markets like this.

Two very different people attended one of my sessions on referral marketing recently, both wanted to learn how to get more business by referral.  Both worked in the financial planning industry and understood the importance of doing business by referral.  We’ll call them Planner A and Planner B.  We focussed in on target market.  It was easy to identify which financial planner was going to be more successful.

Planner A said their target market was anyone with money to invest and wanted a secure financial future.  Planner B had a very different perspective.  Planner B said they wanted to work with young professionals between the ages of 25 and 35 years of age, preferably couples with no children and clear financial goals.

Planner B wanted to work with people who were clear about their future and because they were in the same age bracket understood the issues and challenges they faced.  Not only that they knew that young professionals often had a habit of spending up big and not saving for the future.  This planner had lived a very basic upbringing and wanted to secure a sound financial future for themselves and was passionate about spreading the word to other young professionals in the same age bracket.  They were very clear on their target market.

Both financial planners were competent however Planner B had targeted young professionals, was more passionate and it literally oozed out of their pores.  Combine that with a clear target market and it was obvious that Planner B was destined for success.  This planner only had to work with a few young professional couples and I predict word would spread fast among the target market, bringing more and more referrals and of course closed business.

Planner A would have to pitch their services to clients everywhere hoping to find someone who will work with them.  They will not have the ability to get referrals from a clearly refined target market like Planner B.  Other than being competent they have little extra to offer to potential clients other than they are a generalist, rather than a specialist financial planner.

The message for business owners and sales people is clear, if you don’t have a clearly defined target market, you must spend time defining one.  With a clearly defined target market you will create a steady stream of referral business.

© Lindsay Adams 2013.  All rights reserved.

Article written by the Lindsay Adams National Director of the Referral Institue

Lindsay Adams National Director, Referral Institute The Referral Institute is a training and consulting company that specializes in working with business owners and sales people to help them develop referral their marketing vision, plans and goals, before they go to BNI to take action.  Find out more at or email Lindsay directly at 


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In this third instalment of the “Why People Resist Networking” Video Series, Dr. Ivan Misner® discusses a popular theme surrounding why people tend to resist networking–impatience. If new networkers don’t see immediate payoff from their efforts, they become impatient, inevitably resulting in failure early on in the networking process.

Watch the video now to find out why you owe it to yourself (not to mention the business you’ve put so much hard work into) to adopt a systematic and patient approach to networking. Remember, when you approach networking like a long distance marathon runner, you will reap sweet rewards; if you approach it like a sprinter, simply trying to reach the end as quickly as possible, chances are you’ll end up breaking your ankle (so to speak) and you will have failed before you ever have a chance to even reach the finish line–needless to say, there’s no prize in that.

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I am a frequent flyer and traveller around Australia and Asia, speaking at conferences and seminars, teaching business owners and sales people about building their business by referral.  There are four ways to build your business, advertising, marketing, cold calling and referral marketing.

Most business owners and sales people I know don’t have the advertising budget of Coles or Woolworth’s to promote their business, nor do they have the where with all to engage in sophisticated marketing campaigns to promote their business.   Most of them rely on good old cold calling or referral marketing to achieve sales.

Here is an amazing fact, cold calling works, for every one hundred people you call three of them will do business with you. The problem that goes with that is how well you handle rejection.  For those three clients you will have to negotiate ninety seven rejections.  I’m not sure how well you handle rejection, however I can think of easier ways to do business.  That is, by referral.

I have successfully used referral marketing to build three businesses over the past thirteen years and consider myself an expert in the technology and processes of referral marketing.

I was booked to speak at an event in Singapore about the “Three Massive Mistakes Business Owners Make that Stop Them Getting Referred”.  I had everything I needed, clothes, computer, complete with PowerPoint presentation, handouts, my passport, hotel booking and even my power adapter, which I’ve left behind more than once before.

I had everything I needed, except…Business Cards!

I searched through my briefcase and suit coat pockets and found about a dozen cards, not nearly enough for the five hundred people expected in the audience at the conference I was speaking at.

In my presentation I talk about the power of creating visibility through exchanging business cards, before you move on to credibility and profitability.  So what do you do when you are don’t have enough or any business cards?  Here’s what I did.  During the many conversations I had I spoke I said something like “I would love to stay in touch with you, I’m sorry I’ve run out of business cards, how about you give me your card and I will email you tomorrow with my details”.

Alternately I asked the person I was speaking to for two of their cards and wrote my contact details on the back of one of their cards and gave it back to them explaining that I had run out of cards.  It wasn’t a complete disaster, even if it was a tad embarrassing.

The next day I made sure I was out of bed early and sent an email to all of the people I had spoken to that day with my details and a short note saying how much I enjoyed meeting them.

It may not have been the best way to connect with people, however it was sure memorable!

© Lindsay Adams 2013.  All rights reserved.

Article written by the Lindsay Adams National Director of the Referral Institue

Lindsay Adams National Director, Referral Institute The Referral Institute is a training and consulting company that specializes in working with business owners and sales people to help them develop referral their marketing vision, plans and goals, before they go to BNI to take action.  Find out more at or email Lindsay directly at 

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In this first video in the “Why People Resist Networking Series,” Dr. Ivan Misner® lists 4 ideas about why people most likely resist networking and goes into detail about the very first idea–Lack of Confidence.

He offers insight into three different reasons why people lack confidence when it comes to networking and then gives explanations & solutions to combat this reasoning which too often prevents people from reaping the benefits of networking for their business.

Rather than making assumptions, ask more questions.  This was a piece of sage advice that has been given to me both my spiritual mentor, and my sales coach!  No, they are not one in the same, but both have expressed the importance of asking more questions, as well as asking better questions.  Over the years as I have developed my networking skills I have come to learn the importance of not only asking questions but ask good questions.

I often teach people how to network effectively, to get beyond face to face cold calling, to do quality networking that allows you to build relationships with people whom you want to refer business to and who may want to refer business to you.  One of the most popular questions I get from my students is; “How do you start a good conversation with someone I meet at a networking event?”  My response is always the same, “Ask Questions”

People love to  talk about themselves, their businesses, what they are doing that is important to them, and what is going on in their world.  If you are shy, or timid, asking questions will allow you to interact and find common ground with people.  It will take you out of your shell by allowing you to focus on something other than your own fear.

Here are a few tips for asking questions:

Never ask yes or no questions, otherwise you just get yes and no answers and there is no conversation started.  Make sure your questions are open ended.

Ask thoughtful questions that you would really like to know the answer to.  People respond better when they know you are genuinely interested.  We are accustomed to hearing questions like, “How are you?”  “How’s business?”  “What brought you here?”  “What do you do?”  The truth of those questions is that no one really wants to know the answer, they are just being polite.

After you ask a question, listen to the answer.  It may lead you down the path of the next question or you may learn that the person you are speaking to would be a great connection for someone else you know if the room.

Don’t be a Drill Sargent and pummel the person with questions, it is far better to have 2-3 well thought out questions that draw the person into conversation with you, than it is to have a barrage of pointless questions.

One of the finale questions I will often ask people is this, “As I continue to network and meet people here is there anyone you would like to know or anything I can do to help you?”  In fact I almost always finish any conversation that I have with this question,  “Is there anything at all that I can do to help you going forward?”  If there is, I make a note of it, if there is not, I let them know that I am an email away if they can think of anything I can do for them, just drop me a note.

Often I can go to an event and say very little, but I learn a lot. It is said, that a wise man listens and questions, a fool rambles on and on.

hazelGuest Post Written by Hazel Walker: A passion for learning, personal growth, and relationship-building has been invaluable to Hazels evolution as a woman, a mother and an entrepreneur. Find out more at


Again, in this case, it’s possible to attend too many networking groups, and it’s possible to attend too few.  The key is to attend a number of different types of groups, and not so many that you have to neglect any of them.  Each type is useful in a different way.

If you want something more definitive, we would say that three is the magic number. It can be more or less than three, depending on your abilities and needs, but there is a pretty good target for an effective referral network.  You can select from a menu of seven different types.

Strong Contact Networks (referral networking groups such as BNI) are structured explicitly to pass business referrals among members; they allow only one member per profession.  Strong-contact networks are particularly good for developing in-depth relationships because you see the same members week after week and pass referrals as part of each meeting.

Casual Contact Networks (chambers of commerce, for example) bring business people together in a less structured context than strong contact networks, but for many they are a primary source of referrals; membership is not limited by profession.  These groups are good for developing breadth in your network, but deep, long lasting relationships can be formed as well.

Service Organisations (Rotary, Lions etc) are associations that exist to provide and support humanitarian efforts and good works in the community and larger venues.  They also bring people together in settings that facilitate referrals and knowledge networking.  Like casual contact groups, they help you add breadth and diversity to your network.

Professional Associations or knowledge networks are established to exchange information and ideas among those in a given industry, as well as to promote and support that industry.  These networks often include direct competitors, but they also provide contacts in related but non-competing businesses as well.

Social/Business Organisations such as Jaycees (insert link) or business singles clubs, combine social activities with business networking and can provide a variety of networking opportunities; unfortunately, many tend to resemble singles bars.

Women’s Networking Groups are still important networking organisations but are slowly disappearing as women enter the business mainstream, especially as professionals, entrepreneurs, and small business owners. In mixed strong contact groups such as BNI, about 40% or more of the members are women.

Online Networks  are a new phenomenon covering a wide range of interests. Many such as, offer business-networking opportunities.  Just as with more traditional networking groups, you need to develop relationships of trust with online networks as well.  Other ways to network online include starting your own blog and emailing your company newsletters.

Not only do we recommend being active in three groups, but we would also suggest that they be three different types of groups.  For referral networking, we would suggest that a strong contact network is particularly important, along with two other groups of different types. If you go to weekly meetings of three groups, you will be spending somewhere between five and six hours per week in meetings, not counting contacts you make outside the meetings in order to follow up on referrals and attend to other group-oriented activities.  That’s a pretty good investment of time, and if you make full use of your networking groups and develop a fair number of relationships, you will probably have as much business as you can handle.

Taken from Truth or Delusion? Page 97 – 99  Online Networks would now be considered LinkedIn.

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