Episode 221: Your Business 101

BNI Podcast Album Art 300 px


A BNI member recently asked Dr. Misner how to promote second tier (outside) referrals, because the other members of his chapter weren’t likely to use his services directly.

The truth is that if you only focus on the referrals that  are sitting there in the room, you’re going to limit your success. The network beyond the network is what matters. Everyone needs the second tier referrals.

To get those referrals, you have to train members in how to refer you. Specific is terrific for “Your Business 101.” Pick topics for your 30-second pitch at the meeting each week, the way you would create a training curriculum. Bring photos, testimonials, brochures.

Think about how this applies to your business. Sit down and think of four topics, then break each of those four down into 2-3 sub-topics. Post your topics here—and use them at your meetings. You’ll get many more referrals.

Brought to you by Networking Now.

Complete Transcript of BNI Podcast Episode 221 –

Hello everyone 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, and I am coming to you from Live Oak Recording Studio in Berkeley, CA. I am joined on the phone today by the Founder and Chairman of BNI, Dr. Ivan Misner. Hello Ivan, how are you ?

I am doing great, Priscilla. I have an interesting topic, something that I haven’t really tackled on the podcast before. I had a BNI member that recently asked me a question. He said, “ I’m a travel agent. Most of the business owners in my group are challenged to take time away, to get away from their businesses. They don’t travel a lot.” The question was, “What can I do to promote 2nd tier referrals?” He asked if I had any suggestions.

We use that term a lot on BNI. Not every group may have heard that term, 2nd tier, but it’s basically an outside referral. How do I get them to refer somebody else because they are not going to be using me directly a lot because they don’t travel.

Here is the short answer. The short answer is you have to create a Your Business 101 strategy. Your Business 101. Let me get to that by first saying that if all you do is focus on tier 1 referrals, you are really going to limit your business opportunities. If all you focus on are the referrals which are sitting there in the room- don’t get me wrong. It’s good to have people that you can do business with in the room because if they used you, then it’s easier to refer. But I think a lot of people either don’t join or they focus- they don’t join because “this isn’t enough people and I can’t get enough referrals from this” or “ I can’t get enough referrals from this.” Or they join and they just try to use the members in the room.

That’s never enough. You have to go way beyond and network beyond the network that is in the room. Now, the members know 100 people who know 100 people who know 100 people. So you really want to try to focus on that 2nd tier referral, that outside referral, all the time. Not just because you are in a certain business, but in virtually all businesses, if you want BNI to work, you have to go with the people that the members in the room know.

Knowing that, how do you get there? That is the real question. The answer is you create a curriculum for your business. You have to literally create a curriculum for your business. You have to train members how to refer you. So if you just say, “ I am a travel agent. I can take care of travel anywhere at anytime. If you need to have that, I can do that.” Nonsense. That is not enough.

That’s way too vague. You are never going to get any referrals off of that kind of a statement. You have to be really, really specific. Specific is terrific when you are thinking of Your Business 101.

Let me tell you a real quick story. I had a member who came up to me once and had his PDA in his hand, had a calendar on his mobile device and said, “ Pick a Wednesday, any Wednesday.” I said, “Why?” He said, “Pick a Wednesday. I want to show you something.” Wednesdays were the day his group met. I picked two months out. He said, “On that date, I’m talking about this topic.”

I said, “Well, that’s interesting. What else?” So he said to pick another Wednesday. I picked a Wednesday that was three or four months out. He said, “On that Wednesday, I am talking about this topic.” I said, “That’s interesting. How did you do it?” He said, “ You talk about being specific. What I did is I literally laid out a curriculum for the year week by week. This week I am going to talk about this topic. Next week, I am going to talk about that topic. I didn’t list what I was going to say, just that I am going to talk about this. Then I have a reminder on Tuesday that I am going to talk about X. Then I spend a couple of minutes figuring out what I am going to say the day before, but I have the curriculum lined up in advance.”

Now, let’s apply that to the travel agent. If you’re listening, I want you to apply that concept to Your Business 101. You are going to train somebody in your business.

You are a travel agent. What are the specifics you could talk about? Business travel. If you don’t do any business travel, obviously don’t talk about that, but if you do specialize in any kind of business travel, talk about that. Here is one way you could break it down into categories: Talk about vacation places. Talk about cruises. Cruises can actually be both business and vacation. I know a number of organizations that will do a business cruise, where you will have meetings during the day and then you are off on the ship on the evening. Talk about cruises. Talk about tours. Talk about local destinations.

This travel agent said the members don’t travel a lot. I bet you he has members in his chapter that might get away for a weekend. They might not take a whole week, although to be honest with you, I recommend that everybody always take vacation. I get people who say they haven’t had a vacation in five years. Okay, you’re crazy. You have to take vacations and recharge your batteries. I have always taken vacations my entire life. I work long crazy hours but vacations are important. Maybe just a little weekend trip. That’s fine.

So maybe talk about weekend destinations that I can book for you. Talk about exotic destinations. What you do then is say When you hear about somebody saying they want to go to Africa, here is what I know about Africa. Here is what I can do when you hear somebody say they want to take a trip to Africa.” Have information on all of these exotic destinations. Bring photographs. Bring testimonials. Bring brochures. Bottom line: Paint a picture in people’s minds that they can share with others. Talk about your experiences and other people’s experiences. Get laser specific each week. Travel agents is one of the coolest professions because each week could be a new destination, a whole different focus.

If you want to get outside referrals, get really specific about how people can refer you. That is the way to do it.

I think that’s great. When you talked about a travel agent, I had the very same idea. Some of these travel agents get to go to the places that they are going to promote. You could come back with photos of the places they went and the fun they had. You only have a certain number of seconds to fill and we could just tantalize people week after week with the options.

You really can. Everybody can do this for their business. No matter what you business, you can break it down into small parts and talk about that each week. What I really want the members to do is literally create curriculum for your business. Your Business 101. You are going to do a little curriculum. I’m going to give you a little test here, Priscilla. I am going to ask you for two or three weeks of your curriculum.

Right now?

Yes. In just a second. So you think about it for a second. For the listeners, this is completely off the cuff. I didn’t prepare her. This is how easy it is. Anybody can sit down and think of three or four things and then turn it into eight, ten and twelve so that you have a whole quarter of curriculum topics that you could could be talking about.

Priscilla, just off the cuff, could you give me two or three real specifics about what you do?

The obvious one, I often talk about the podcast and what we have discussed here. Sometimes I will bring up the latest band that has recorded here and if we have been doing voice over work for an electronics company or video gaming. I constantly select different things that we do in the studio.

Alright let’s take those two or three. You talked about podcasts. One of the things you could do is not just talk about the general topic of podcasts, but maybe you have done podcasts with different markets. Something like BNI might be one podcast. A business coach who did podcasts with you or a corporation of some kind that is trying to get information out to their clients. There are different niches within podcasts. You don’t want to stand up and just talk about podcasts one week. You want to do the niche. Go deep. You might have three or four weeks worth of podcasts.

Then you talked about bands. Talk about the different types of bands. I know it sounds crazy and a lot of the members are wondering why be so specific? Be that specific because if you can say something that resonates with people, all of a sudden they pay attention.

Yes, exactly. Then they are talking with their friends and somebody says something about a topic that you brought up and it rings a bell.

Exactly. So you can talk about two or three types of bands that you do over two or three weeks. “Last week, I talked about this band. Today, I want to talk about this band.” Now, what was the other one you did?

We do voice overs and sound effects.

Voice overs- you could do weeks and weeks on voice overs. So what I want the listeners to do is right now, sit down and create four different topics. Then I want you to take those four topics and break those four down into two or three or four each and get 10 -12 weeks worth of topics. That’s your curriculum 101. By the way, this guy did it for 52 weeks. 52 topics. Okay, there were a couple of weeks that the chapter would be off for holidays. Roughly a year’s worth of topics he did.

Oh, and here is an important one. I said, “How has that worked out for you?” He said, “Since I started doing this, I get 3 or 4 times more referrals than I used to get because I get specific.”

Specific is terrific. Your Business 101. That is all I have for today, Priscilla.

That’s excellent. Thank you for all of the good ideas, Ivan. I really appreciate it.

Thanks for letting me put you on the spot.

Thank you all very much.. I would just like to remind the listeners that this podcast has been brought to you by NetworkingNow.com, which is the leading site on the net for networking downloadables. Thank you so much for listening. This is Priscilla Rice and we hope you will join us next week for another exciting episode of The Official BNI Podcast.


  1. says

    Good, focused, doable and realistic advice from Dr. Misner today! Thanks from a new member.
    “Specific is terrific” – I like the memorable quality of this.
    Mill River Chapter

  2. says

    This is some of the best advice I have listened to in some time. I love networking and am always trying to improve every encounter with another business or prospect. Breaking it down is EXCELLENT ADVICE. BE SPECIFIC. THANK YOU Dr. Meisner.

  3. says

    Liked this oldie but goodie. Specifically about focusing on 2nd tier referral for your sales manager moment to increase referrals. Makes so much sense. Also encourages better advance planning for better smm’s

  4. says

    Thanks! This podcast was super helpful. I first listened to it while entering some info into my Quick Books program. I heard Dr Misner
    advise that we take time right away to write some subjects down and then break them down…I decided to listen again today and do that. Worked wonderfully. I am one of those people that thinks of the weekly SMM as a worrisome “paper to write” Thanks for the call to action!

Solutions-focused comments are welcome