Episode 408: The Future of BNI

Synopsis

Dr. Misner has a new title: Chief Visionary Officer of BNI, and today he’s providing a 60,000-foot view of the future of BNI.

Yes, “Chief Visionary Officer” is a real title. It’s an office established to work beside other senior executives. As Chief Visionary Officer, Dr. Misner will be focusing on brand-building activities.

Be very clear: this is not an exit strategy. This is an engagement strategy. It gives Dr. Misner an opportunity to work in his flame.

Look at the chart below. BNI has grown consistently since it’s foundation. How many organizations can say that?

chart: BNI member growth from the founding through 2014

That growth has resulted even though Dr. Misner has been able to put only part of his time into growing BNI. With the opportunity to devote all of his time to that goal, he expects to achieve great things.

The main focus will be on content marketing–something in which BNI already excels. Dr. Misner has produced more than 400 podcasts, 800 blog posts, 150 articles, and 20 books. Look for videos that tell the BNI story throughout the coming year. The 21st book, Avoiding the Networking Disconnect, comes out this year. And there will be an increasing focus on inbound marketing.

What else is new? Involving BNI alumni, who are a great source of support for BNI.

BNI is also engaging more in cause marketing, which is about demonstrating your social consciousness. 70% of Millennials want to be involved with an organization that supports social causes around the world. One strategy for this is Business Voices; there will be more to come.

Finally, Dr. Misner plans to work on the member experience, which is best done by focusing on BNI’s core values.

Brought to you by Networking Now.

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Episode 401: What to Do When Things Go Wrong

Synopsis

After Dr. Misner shared about his diagnosis with prostate cancer in Episode 336, many BNI members asked how he had handled telling his business associates about it.

Some people wanted to know why he went public with the news, but in a word-of-mouth organization, people talk. It was important to Dr. Misner to help guide the conversation. Here are some suggestions for effective transparency when things go wrong.

  • Have a communication plan in place.
  • Decide how you’re going to address the problem.
  • Create a hierarchy of who you’re going to tell and when.
  • Check off each group as you go inform them.
  • Ask for help. You may not need someone to take over for you, but you probably need assistance.
  • Don’t worry about how your competition will react. Focus on improving your business every day.
  • Provide regular updates.

In the almost 3 years since Dr. Misner made his announcement, BNI has grown by more than 21%. Transparency is good for your bottom line as long as you have a good communication plan.

Brought to you by Networking Now.

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Episode 328: Let Me Introduce You to “Bob”

Synopsis

Ivan Misner with pipe-cleaner figure "Bob"

When Dr. Misner’s daughter Cassie was 8 years old, she made him a stick figure from red pipe cleaner and called it Bob. He promised to take it everywhere with him, as in this photo from Hong Kong. He started taking these photos so he could send them to Cassie when he wasn’t able to make it to one of her events. Dr. Misner still carries Bob in his briefcase, even though Cassie is in her twenties.

Bob teaches us two lessons about networking. First, he is a great example of how small gestures can forge powerful connections between people. Even when you can’t be there with your professional connections, reach out to make contact. Staying connected is part of building a powerful network.

Second, Bob is a terrific representation of why it’s so important to explain the value that you and your business bring to the table. If you ask a stranger to photograph you with a pipe-cleaner man, you need to explain why. Once Dr. Misner explains his reason for wanting that photo, people always understand.

Bob has his own photo album–if you go to the public Ivan Misner page on Facebook, you can see all the pictures.

Brought to you by Networking Now.

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Episode 247: Making Your Mark

Synopsis

Marketing and sales is not something Dr. Misner was always confident about, but he unexpectedly became the marketing manager at a business he worked for, so he started reading and learned on the job. Sometimes our lives and our businesses go in unexpected directions.

The key to success in referral marketing is helping other people do what they do  best. So whatever business you’re in, build your own brand. Name recognition is the biggest challenge for small companies. For Dr. Misner, brand building was about writing (newspaper articles, blogging); for others, it may be video or podcasting. If you demonstrate expertise in your field, people will follow you.

Read Dr. Misner’s Entrepreneur.com post about this topic and tell us how you’re making your mark.

Brought to you by Networking Now.

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