Dr. Misner looks into his crystal ball to see the future of networking.
- Online and face-to-face networking will both continue to flourish. Dr. Misner recommends the following two online networks: Ecademy and Fast Pitch Networking.
- College and universities still won’t teach classes on networking or word-of-mouth marketing, though they might include the topic in existing courses. That leaves more room for Buffini and the Referral Institute.
- Small companies will continue to have the edge over big businesses when it comes to networking. Big companies just don’t train their employees in referral marketing.
- Expect to see more online networking options for BNI members in the next few years.
Brought to you by Networking Now.
Complete Transcription of BNI Podcast Episode 044 -
Hello everybody and welcome back to the Official BNI Podcast, brought to you by networkingnow.com, which is the leading site on the net for networking downloadables. I am Priscilla Rice coming from Live Oak Recording Studio in Berkeley, California. I’m joined on the phone today by the founder and chairman of BNI, Dr. Ivan Misner. How are you doing, Dr. Misner?
I am doing great, Priscilla. Today I am going to be talking about networking trends.
What does that mean?
Okay, wait a minute. I am cleaning up my crystal ball, and I am looking into my crystal ball and trying to foresee the future on what’s happening with networking. There are three things that I want to talk about in what I see as the trends in business networking.
The first is online and face-to-face networking. They will, in my opinion, both continue to flourish. If you look at the growth of BNI, it has been astronomical. The first 11 years, we opened approximately 500 groups. In our second 11 years- since really the advent of the Internet. Really, the internet became active in the mid-90s. Since our second 11 years, we have opened 5000 groups. That’s 10 times more. Clearly the internet has not hurt face to face networking. It has, I believe in fact, enhanced it.
On the other hand, I believe that online networking will continue to flourish as well. Groups like ecademy, LinkedIn and Ryze. In one of my blogs, the Referrals for Life blog, I had somebody right on there that essentially said technology is changing the rules and that we are just going to be networking through websites and we won’t be networking face-to-face anymore. I think that is just absolutely untrue. Both online and face-to-face networking are important. They are important in different ways. They solve different needs.
You’re going to see both continue to grow. My favorite online network really is ecademy.com. I think it’s one of the best ones that are out there. There’s a new one that I also like. Fastpitch networking.com. Both online and face-to-face, that is the first trend.
Can I ask you a question? What is it about ecademy.com that made you like it more than other ones?
One of the things I like about ecademy is that I have gotten to know the owners – the founder and chairman of ecademy, both Penny and Thomas power. They are wonderful people. You know, it is really all about relationships. As you get to know people and trust people, you feel more comfortable with them. I feel very comfortable with the two of them. But I also like their system.
It’s a great combination of online bulletin boards, communication with people and face-to-face meetings. They also do face-to-face meetings with ecademy. So when you are very active locally in ecademy, you have an opportunity to meet the people that you are networking with online. I think it’s a great combination. I do not view it in any way as competitive to BNI. I view it totally as compatible to what we do. I think they are amongst the best at it online.
The second of my trends that I foresee in the crystal ball that I have right in front of me is about colleges and universities teaching networking and word-of-mouth marketing. In a sense, I would have to say don’t hold your breath. It’s not going to happen. Unfortunately, colleges and universities are not going to be teaching classes extensively on networking and word-of-mouth marketing. I would like to think they may start to include the topic in existing courses, but it is just not something that I see in the foreseeable future.
Most colleges and universities, the curriculum is created by the full-time college professors. The full-time college professors, not the part-time college professors. In my opinion, having been a part-time college professor for almost 20 years, I can categorically tell you that very few, if any, full-time college professors have ever had a real job in their lives. At least those in business. They are teaching business, but they’ve never had a job in business.
Often times they will get very upset when I say that to them. Imagine that. They will say no that that’s not true and that they have owned their own business. I will say what is that? They will say they are a consultant. You know what, Priscilla? I have been a consultant. It is not the same. Running a business and consulting are absolutely not the same.
There are really very few colleges that teach it. There are only two that I am aware of. One is Davis College in Ohio taught by a good friend of mine, Debbie Peters. She teaches the certified networker training program, which, by the way is a training program that I developed. It’s basically BNI networking material. The second is the University of Michigan, taught by another friend of mine, Wayne Baker, Dr. Wayne Baker. He is probably the only full-time college professor I know that really sees the value of social capital in networking and is teaching it. Very few others are going to in the foreseeable future. That is a shame.
But it leaves openings for companies like Brian Buffini program, who teaches mortgage people in real estate people how to network more effectively. I love to Buffini. I have talked about them before on this podcast. They really know what they’re doing in referral marketing, and I highly recommend them. And programs like the Referral Institute. It teaches referral marketing in courses. I recommend the Referral Institute, thereferralinstitute.com. There are those two. You are familiar with Buffini program, I think. Are you not?
I am very familiar with it. I am involved with it.
They loved BNI. We have a great relationship with them. They refer a lot of people to us, and I feel strongly about making sure to reciprocate because they have certainly sent a lot of people our way. I can always tell a Buffini trained member. When I go into a BNI chapter, I can tell immediately that a real estate agent or mortgage broker has been trained by Buffini because they are just hands down better members. They really understand the process of referral marketing. He does a great job of training.
Here’s the third one of my crystal ball that I can see. Small companies will continue to have the edge over big companies related to business networking. Big companies don’t get it. They are clueless about the value and the importance of networking. They pay lip service to networking. They still are focusing on a quick return on marketing efforts and they don’t understand that networking is more about farming than it is about hunting. It’s more about cultivating relationships. They are not truly teaching people how to network effectively and giving them the time necessary to do it.
I can count on one hand the number of really big companies that I have met are really training their salespeople on the networking and referral marketing process extensively and then give them the time to carry it out. Small companies- if you are with a small organization, you have a distinct advantage right now ,but watch out if the big guys ever figure this out, you are in trouble because they will really give you a run for the money. Right now, they are not. So those are the three trends that I see in business networking for the next several years.
That’s great. If you had one more thing to say, what would it be on this program?
I think that the networking is an evolving field. I think you’re going to see more and more of a combination of online and off-line or face-to-face networking. I would feel very confident to say that in the next few years, you are going to see BNI start to incorporate more online types of communication between members and bulletin board access.
We certainly have a podcast where members can communicate. We have the networking entrepreneur.com blog. We have the Yahoo website, the BNI Yahoo website where members are connecting. I think you’re going to see over the next few years a BNI standalone website for BNI members to network online worldwide as well as continuing with the face-to-face meetings. Nothing beats that relationship that is developed by meeting face-to-face. You’re going to see that in the future of BNI.
Thank you, Dr. Misner. I think that might be the end of this particular podcast. It was very useful and thanks for sharing with us. This podcast has been brought to you by networkingnow.com. It’s the leading site on the net for networking downloadables. Thanks for listening. This is Priscilla Rice, and we look forward to having you join us again next week for another exciting episode of the Official BNI Podcast.