In this episode Dr. Ivan Misner, Founder and Chairman of BNI, discusses:
- His Visits To BNI Chapters in Scandanavia
- “The Key To Networking”
- The Universal Language of Referrals
- Building Professional Networking Relationships Through Trust
- How To Get Your Contacts To Give You Their Keys
Complete Transcription of BNI Podcast Episode 002 –
Hello everybody and welcome back to the official BNI podcast. I’m Frank Felker in Washington, DC, joined on the phone by Founder and Chairman of BNI, Dr. Ivan Misner, calling in from Sweden today. How are you doing out there, Ivan?
Dr. Ivan Misner:
I?m doing great, Frank. I am visiting BNI chapters all over Scandinavia this week. Sweden, Norway, Denmark. What a great group of members out here in Scandinavia. They really understand the process of networking. What?s really great is that you don?t have to understand the language at all. If you sit through a meeting, you know exactly what is going on even though you can?t understand a single word because we all speak the language of referrals.
Different countries, different cultures, different races, different religions ? we all want to do business through word of mouth and through referrals. It?s really incredible to sit through a meeting in a completely different language and yet know exactly what is happening.
That must be really gratifying for you, Ivan, to see that type of thing and to realize that you have somehow plugged into a universal language of networking here and that the organization that you created is being so embraced by people of all cultures.
It does feel great. It was very interesting in the beginning and a little confusing for me in the beginning to see this work in countries with such different cultures. I was often wondering, why does this work when there are so many different cultural differences?
I had an opportunity to talk to Brian Tracy, the well known businessman, consultant, speaker, and trainer. He is known throughout the world as one of the best trainers in sales and business. I had an opportunity to have lunch with him a couple of years ago and I found out that he does his training in Germany in German. He is bilingual or actually multilingual. He speaks German fluently.
I asked him, ?Do you change the material when you do your presentation in German because of German cultural differences?? He said he doesn?t change a single word other than translation issues. I said, ?Why is that? How is it that sales skills work so closely in the United States and also in Germany when the cultures are so different??
I will never forget his answer because his answer really made it work for me as to why this program works in different countries. It was that entrepreneurs worldwide want to do things more efficiently or more effectively. If you can teach them to do something more efficiently or more effectively, they will embrace it.
I think that is a great example of why BNI works in countries like Scandinavia where you have entrepreneurs who want to do things more efficiently and effectively. It transcends the cultural differences.
That makes a lot of sense. Absolutely. Well, I understand that you recently posted up an article on Entrepreneur.com about the key to networking. There was a message in there that you wanted to share with the podcast audience today.
Yes. There is an article up on Entrepreneur.com, and I would urge members of BNI to go to the BNI website at BNI.com. On the right hand side, you?ll usually see a banner ad that says Entrepreneur.com. Click on that and it will take you to the dozens and dozens of articles that I have written for Entrepreneur.
One of them, written in February of 2007, is a great article that I would like to talk about today. It?s about the key to networking, which is the title. The Key to Networking. When you tell entrepreneurs that relationships are the key to developing a personal and professional network, they often smile and kind of acknowledge the concept without fully appreciating its true meaning.
I would like to put the notion into perspective. Imagine that you are standing in a large room full of people. Let?s say that I was to ask everyone to pull out their key ring from their pocket, their briefcase or their purse. We can visualize everyone holding up their ring of keys and jingling their ring of keys. There is the key to their house, the key to their office, the key to their car. We can see people flipping them over one at a time and showing them.
If we were to ask somebody to hand over the key to their house to the perfect stranger next to them, they wouldn?t want to do that. Of course they wouldn?t want to hand over the key to their house or the key to their car to a perfect stranger.
Now, instead of a key to a car, a home or an office, imagine that you have a key that opens the door to important relationships with someone, some other person who you?d like to connect with. Let?s say you hold the key to open the door to the relationship but you don?t know the person who wants the key. You have this key that opens the door to relationship but you don?t know the person who wants that key.
Would you give it to that person? The answer would be the same. Of course not. Why? Because when you give a referral, you give a little bit of your reputation away. If it?s a good referral, it helps your reputation. If it is a bad referral, it hurts your reputation. Therefore, you?ll hand over the keys to someone you know and trust.
Whether you?re talking about handing over a key to your house or handing over a key to a relationship that opens the door for referrals to somebody, you have to know and trust them before you just hand over the key.
That is awesome. What a strong metaphor that is.
You know, what I love about it is that the metaphor works really on two levels. First, you are not going to hand over the keys that you have to a relationship until you know me well. You are not going to give me that key until you know me well. But more importantly, and this is what I find really interesting- I don?t know what keys you actually have.
I don’?t know the people that you really know until you trust me well enough to tell me about them. When we are at a BNI meeting and we?re getting to know each other over time and I am really specific about the kinds of people that I?m looking for, only then when you trust me, will you start pulling out the key ring and showing me that you have this contact or that contact.
That is the powerful thing about this metaphor. Not only are you not going to hand it over, but you?re not even going to tell me what keys you have until we get to know and trust each other.
That is a great, great message and you are absolutely correct. I have seen that work in my own BNI chapter, where people who I knew were very strong members of the local business community. It wasn?t until over a period of time that they came to know me and trust me and as you put it, understand what keys that I was looking for, that they began to come forward. Originally, I wondered ? that person seems kind of standoffish. They?re not bringing me any referrals. I wonder why not. You just made it all clear right there.
Members who are listing to this, take a look at your fellow BNI members, your referral partners. Does it surprise you to think that they have keys to referrals they are keeping in their pocket until they feel that they can trust you with them? It shouldn?t because any successful business person holds onto those relationships carefully.
The key then is to build those relationships. To do that within the BNI context, there are several things that you can do. I would love to talk about those more in other podcasts, but things like one-to-one dance cards, where you are meeting with the members in getting to know them. The use of the GAINS exchange – G.A.I.N.S., which is an acronym and I would love to talk about that a future podcast. Those kinds of tools are great ways to get to know your fellow BNI members so that they feel comfortable in handing over those keys.
That is wonderful, wonderful stuff, Ivan. Well, we?re just about out of time for this week?s podcast. Any last pearl of wisdom that you would like to share with the listeners before we go?
I think that if there is one single thing that most entrepreneurs really just don?t get, it is this idea of really building a solid relationship. The next time you?re asking somebody for a connection to someone who is a really important client to them, think about whether they would hand over the keys to their house to you.
If there is no chance that they would do that, they may not be quite ready to hand over the keys to their best client either. As a benchmark, you want to kind of get a sense as to what kind of keys would they hand over to you? Those are the kind of keys that they are literally going to be handing over in the relationships of the referrals that they generate with you.
Well, I don?t know about everybody else listening, but I have a feeling that if you?re anything like me, you got a lot out of this week?s message. Along with Dr. Ivan Misner, Founder and Chairman of BNI, I’m Frank Felker saying we?ll see you next week on the Official BNI Podcast.