Episode 337: Three Essential Questions (Classic Podcast)

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This is a rebroadcast of Episode 158.


This week Dr. Misner provides three essential questions to ask yourself in order to develop a networking strategy and decide which networking events to attend.

  1. Who are my best prospects? Are they businesses or consumers? What industries are they in?
  2. Where can I meet my best prospects? Corporate representatives are more likely to be in service organizations or on non-profit boards than in chambers of commerce.
  3. Whom exactly do I want to meet? The more specific you can be, the better.

Go to your BNI meetings and ask your fellow BNI members these questions.

Brought to you by Networking Now.

Complete Transcription of BNI Podcast Episode 158 –

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’m Priscilla Rice, and I’m coming to you from Live Oak Recording Studio in Berkley, California, and I’m joined on the phone today by the founder and the chairman of BNI, Dr. Ivan Misner.

Hello, Ivan. How are you and where are you?

I am doing great, Priscilla. This week I am in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, for the U.S. National Conference for BNI, and Pittsburgh is my home town. I was born in Pittsburgh. I only been back a couple of times. It’s exciting to be here again.

We have directors from all over the United States and a few directors from other countries that are here for our really big conference.

That sounds great! So what are you going to share with us?

Today I want to talk about three essential questions, and it really relates to how people, time-strapped business people can figure out what kind of networking events that they should be attending and which ones that they don’t need to focus on. Of course, we certainly love having you in BNI, but there are other networking groups that are active that you need to take a look at, like Chambers and service clubs and other business networking associations.

So you want to ask yourself a little bit about the kinds of prospects, and you want to have a little bit of a networking strategy, so here are three easy but definitely essential questions you need to answer in order to create a plan for getting out there and connecting with people in the right venues.

The first is: Who are my best prospects? It’s important to know that each target market will have a strategy that requires you to network in different places. If you’re not sure who your target market is, look at your list of past clients. What industries were they in? How long have they been in business? Were your clients even businesses to begin with, or have your worked mostly with consumers?

Once you’ve put together a profile of your past clients, ask people close to you for patterns you may have overlooked, and get their input on who might be a good fit for your business. That’s a good question to ask your fellow BNI members. Who are my best prospects?

This is the second question: Where can I meet my best prospects? As you begin targeting specific niche markets, there are other venues and opportunities that fall outside the typical networking event. Here are some examples of specific target markets where you should network to find people in these markets. Small business owners. Small business owners you can find at a Chamber of Commerce or a local business association, certainly a referral group like BNI. Representatives from big corporations in your area, well, there you can find them in service clubs, in non-profit organizations. They participate in those, as well as small businesses, but you’re going to see the bigger companies as well. Volunteer work, homeowners associations. These are places that you’ll meet representatives from big companies. Consumers, your kids’ events, Little League, Boy Scouts, so forth, church events. This is a place that you can meet consumers, if that’s your target market.

Here’s the third question: Whom exactly do I want to meet? Even if you can’t name the people you want to meet, the better you can describe them, the greater the chance you’ll get to meet your ideal contact. Be as specific as possible when you’re asking for a contact from people, particularly in BNI, because it focuses the other person’s attention on the details that are more likely to remind them of a specific person rather than say, “Well, do you know anyone who needs my services?” I mean, how many times do we hear that? “I could use anybody that you think could use these services.” Well, that doesn’t tell anybody anything. The more laser specific you can be, I mean, literally a name. “You know what, I’ve been trying to get through to so-and-so at this office.” The more specific you can be, the more amazed you will be with the results.

Networking really works; it’s just a matter of developing strategy that puts you in contact with the right people, and that’s why these three questions, I think, will help you. So go to your BNI meetings and ask your fellow BNI members these questions:

Who do you think are my best prospects?
Where can I meet my best prospects?
Do you know this specific person? I’m looking for this specific individual.

Three key questions, three essential questions to help you in your networking.

That’s great! You know, I was thinking that sometimes you have multiple services in your business, and you can just focus on one, one of the many things that you offer and just go for that type of client. You don’t have to worry about trying to always bring up everything that you do.

Well, yeah. Especially in BNI, you have that opportunity. So what I would do is I would really focus on one type of client until you make sure that the majority of your members get it, they really understand that market or that product that you’re offering. Then I would focus on the next product or market so that you can really emphasize that and really get people to understand that product and what prospects might apply to that product.

What happens instead is the people stand up and say, “I’m a full service” whatever, fill in the blank, “I can handle it all.”


And that doesn’t teach anybody anything, it never does. And so it’s very important that you be laser specific about what you’re looking for, which is kind of intuitive for businesses, because they want to stand up and say, “I do it all; whatever you need in this, I can do it!” And the problem with that is that that doesn’t give any information for somebody to hang their hat on and to say, “Wait a minute, I know somebody that does that,” because that specificity is a memory jogger when they meet somebody who’s looking for a product or service.

Yeah, great! Well, is there anything else you’d like to share before we close?

The last thing I would like to share is that if you’re an education coordinator, I would love for you to share this at your BNI chapter and get your members thinking about this. It might be an excellent exercise for a three week period for a chapter to do, to get feedback on these things and particularly to share with members in terms of a referral, “Here’s a specific prospect that I’m looking for.

Thanks, Priscilla.

Okay, great! Thank you so much, Dr. Misner.

Well, I’d like to just 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’ll join us next week for another exciting episode of The Official BNI Podcast.


  1. Leon DSilva says

    Thanks Priscilla, for this episode. These 3 simple questions helps us to be more focussed, more specific and more filterlike when we want to follow up with a lead.
    Thanks again .

  2. says

    I received value from being specific and presenting one product/service to members until they understand so it becomes a memory jogger when they meet a person to refer me to.

  3. says

    The message is very loud and clear, be specific and be clear about what and who is your direct prospect. Hammer it down until it reaches your team members or your audience. Thanks for the reminder.

Solutions-focused comments are welcome