People who are new to referral marketing may think there’s a limited supply of referrals, and this can make them desperation. Desperation is NOT referable. It’s true that you have to compete for business, but this is not the way to do it.
You earn referrals through creating relationships and providing outstanding and memorable customer service. But how do you build a structured, predictable referral system?
- Establish a close, mutual rewarding relationship with your referral partners.
- Determine how many and what kind of referrals you need each week to accomplish your financial sales goals.
- One by one, discuss your contacts and connections with your networking counterparts.
- Share your needs and your resources from an abundance mentality rather than a scarcity mentality.
Dr. Misner recommends reading Coaching Into Greatness by Kim George to help establish an abundance mentality.
Brought to you by Networking Now.
Complete Transcription of BNI Podcast Episode 096 –
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 Berkeley, California, and I am joined on the phone today by the founder and the chairman of BNI, Dr. Ivan Misner.
Hello, Ivan, and how are you and where are you?
Hi, Priscilla. Well, this week, I’m at the iLearning Global Conference in Las Vegas. It’s the launch of the iLearningGlobal.tv program. They’ve invited me to be on the faculty, so I’m one of the faculty members for iLearning Global. I did an episode on this, if you’re listening to this podcast, go back to Episode Number 87, and you’ll get a lot of information on iLearning Global. If you’re at all interested in signing up for the iLearning Global program, you go to iLearningGlobal.tv/networking and that will take you to the BNI Web site. There is an affiliate fee; there’s a cost to this thing, but all of the revenues go to the BNI Foundation. So it’s a way that we have of supporting the Foundation. They have video programs and whatnot. I’m on their faculty, and I do a whole lot of material on networking as well as a lot of other really big names like John Gray and John Victor-Hansen and Brian Tracy.
So I’m at that conference this week, and so far, it’s going great.
Great. Well, what do you have to share with us?
Well, today I’m going to talk about Desperation Not Being Referable. There’s truly an unlimited supply of referrals, and it may surprise people because a lot of people who are new to referral marketing or who’ve had trouble getting referrals tend to think that they’re in for a struggle to gain access to a limited supply of good referrals. And this mindset is really known as the “scarcity mentality,” and those who have it often appear really desperate to obtain business, which is not a good way to present yourself when you’re trying to sell your products or services. Desperation is not referable.
I’ve seen people at BNI meeting, and it’s, “Do you have a referral? I need a referral. Do you have a referral? I need a referral.” And it’s just so desperate, and nobody’s going to give a referral to that person.
It’s true that you’ve got to compete for business, but even within a referral networking group, you have to really go out and get that business. You may come to a BNI group thinking that all the other members will automatically refer all their business to you, and what you have to realize, though, that joining a referral group does not automatically entitle you to referrals; you have to earn them. For starters, you have to work to create the relationships where none existed. Fellow members must get to know you and your work, and they have to be able to trust you to carry out your commitments and provide outstanding and memorable customer service to anyone that they might refer to you. They’ve established relationships of their own, and they don’t want to risk those relationships by referring them to someone they don’t know.
But having to compete with established relationships doesn’t cut you off with potential referrals. This is sort of an abundance mentality rather than a scarcity mentality. I recommend a book by Kim George, good friend of mine. Kim’s book is called Coaching Into Greatness, and she writes about how a successful, healthy networking activity is what leads to having an abundance mentality, that there’s a ton of business out there, but all it takes is to cultivate that abundance mentality to become an active networker, to build relationships and to provide benefits to your networking partners.
Joining a networking group because you expect to immediately get results in terms of referrals without any effort on your part is just unrealistic, produces very few, if any, referrals. There’s also the way to make the flow of referrals predictable, and I believe adjustable. And we talked a little bit about that in one of our previous podcasts in the use of the networking scorecard. That’s a great way to help track your activity. If you or your referral partner can set up a system like that or that in which you are sending people referrals and they are sending them to you and you’re tracking through a structured system, then you’re literally developing a pipeline for your referrals.
Selling with traditional marketing methods is sort of like fishing with dynamite. You light a few sticks, you throw them into the water, and you hope that something comes up. But structured referral marketing is more like fishing with the latest, high-tech gear. You’ve got a boat that lets you move to where the fish are most likely to be hanging out, you’ve got Sonar that lets you see where the best fish are, and you can say “Forget those carp over here in the shallows; I’m going to catch the 30 big brown trout down at 18 feet.” So it allows you to really focus on what it is that you want to get.
How do you build a structured, predictable referral system? First, you have to establish a close, mutually rewarding relationship of trust with your referral partners. In BNI, it’s the people in that room. You’ve got to establish trust with them; you’ve got to be at credibility with them.
Next, you need to determine how many and what kind of referrals you need each week to accomplish your financial sales goals. Then one by one, you and your fellow networking counterparts discuss the people in each other’s databases or contacts or connections and identify those people that you’d like to connect with. Once you’ve done that, you can decide when and where and under what circumstances you’d like to meet each contact.
Now, we talked about in a previous podcast the Referral Institute’s Referral Pipeline Program. That’s exactly what they do literally, and it takes eight hours to do it, but anybody could do it to a lesser degree at a BNI meeting by getting together. We talked about accountability partners and working with people to help hold each other accountable, but one of the things you can also do is talk about what kind of contacts you have, what kinds of contacts you’re looking for. “I’m looking for this kind of person. What kind of person are you looking for?” If you have your database right there, you’re actually able to generate referrals just by sometimes sitting down with somebody and talking about the kinds of contacts the day may have versus what you may have. And this kind of proactive referral system enables people to really focus on sharing information specific to what they’re looking for and not coming across in the sort of desperate mode, “I need referrals, whatever you’ve got.”
And so you’ve got to create a system to do it; you’ve got to share it with your fellow BNI members. And I really think that sometimes you’ve got to sit down with your database and they sit down with their database after a meeting and you talk about, “I’m looking for some financial planners. Who do you have in your database? This is what I want to talk about. Would you be willing to introduce me to any of them? What are you looking for?”
“Well, I need to get some CPAs, and this is what…”
So you share each other’s needs rather than just sort of acting desperate for the kind of business that you’re looking for. If you come into it with this abundance mentality rather than a scarcity mentality, especially in this economy – we were talking about the economy before the podcast started. If you come into it with that, then you’re going to be much, much more successful.
That sounds like some very good advice.
Especially now, right? The recession that we are in at the time of this recording, it’s not going to go away any time soon. And people sometimes say to me, “Ivan, there is no recession, is there?” I have no problem saying there’s a recession. I have no problem saying that. I’m not running for office. We’re in a recession. I don’t care. I just refuse to participate in the recession. I think there are opportunities out there. There are opportunities out there. When everybody is crying the blues about how bad business is, what you need to do is look for those opportunities that may exist out in the marketplace.
Just look at BNI itself. BNI, this is a great opportunity to build local chapters. If you don’t believe that and you think, “Well, Ivan is saying look for opportunities. What are the opportunities?” Look at the cover of Entrepreneur magazine for, I believe, the month of March. The cover of Entrepreneur magazine, and I’m pretty sure it’s the March issue. The cover says, “Laid Off? Start a business in 2009.”
Now, it’s interesting because I’ve been through several, several recessions through BNI and my consulting business in the past, and every time the recession just begins to start to turn around is when the media starts talking about ways to help. What can you do? What can business do to help turn things around? And this is sort of the beginning of the potential turnaround, because people are being laid off, and they’re really desperate. What are they going to do? They’re being laid off. Many of them had a little bit of money, and they start a business. And so, we almost always in BNI see this up tick in new members who started a business during a recession.
Now, members, you have to be careful. You want to make sure you bring in quality people. But let me tell you something. Just because somebody is laid off doesn’t mean they’re not a quality business professional. You may have a highly trained business person who is no longer working for Corporate America and they start their own business, and they can make an outstanding BNI member. So here in the middle of a recession is an opportunity to grow BNI chapters.
So even when we’re talking about that Desperation Isn’t Referral, when you’re inviting people, it’s the same thing. If you’re desperate to invite people to a BNI chapter, the chapter is not going to grow, but if you’re looking for opportunities that are out there, that’s not desperation; that’s confidence. And one of the things you can look for are people who started a new business. They’re hungry to build that business, and they can oftentimes make a great BNI member.
The desperation attribute is similar to dating. If somebody is super needy, they are definitely not going to be the one you want to go out with.
Very true. Now, I am real pleased to say that I have not had to deal with that for 20 years, but I will take your word for it. But yeah, I think you’re absolutely right; it’s probably a good example.
Well, I think we may have come to the end of this podcast.
Yes, thank you, Priscilla.
Thank you, Dr. Misner.
I just want 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. Thanks 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.