If you try to be all things to all people, you won’t be good at anything. BNI has one core business model: referral marketing. As an organization, we do one thing better than anyone else.
BNI members should also do one thing better than anyone else. That’s what’s going to give you the best results. Instead of being all things to all people, be one thing to all people. Stick to your mission.
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Complete Transcription of BNI Podcast Episode 137 –
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. How are you, and where are you?
Well, this week I’m at the Referral Institute conference in New Orleans. We’re also doing presentations for BNI there. So I’m on the road this week, but I’ve got what I think is an interesting topic for our podcast.
And what is that?
And the title is “Don’t Try to Be All Things to All People.” I received an e-mail a few months ago from a BNI member who said that entrepreneurs and business professionals really need help in management, in sales, in accounting, in taxes, all these other really important issues. So I read that, and I thought, “Okay, so far, so good. I couldn’t agree more with that.”
Then he suggested that BNI would be so much better if we provided that kind of training. “Whoa, let’s stop. Hang on! Here’s where we part ways.” You see, I’ve heard that a lot of times over the years, and it tends to come from groups or businesses that may be struggling, and they’re looking for something to provide all the answers to a myriad of business problems. And this sounds really good, and I understand where the frustration is coming from. Unfortunately, it just doesn’t work.
Many years ago when I was a business consultant, I saw a lot of my clients bounce around from one products or service to another. They were chasing projects down these rabbit trails because someone said that they should be doing this element or that element of the business. And so they didn’t specialize. They tried to be all things to all people, and they ended up being good at nothing at all.
When it comes to being a truly great organization, I believe that a Jack of All Trades is a Master of None. Instead, I think that you should focus on your organization’s core competencies. Do what you are good at, and do it better than anyone else on the planet. Now, there are a lot of companies that are much better at teaching business people about management, sales, taxes, etc.
BNI is not an expert in taxes or business management or even sales, for that matter. Organizations such as iLearningGlobal provide more content for more experts that we ever could. And we shouldn’t even try to be the expert in all of those areas. In fact, we’re not, and never will be, the leading organization on sales training. Organizations such a Brian Tracy University are much better in this field than we’ll ever be. If we try to do that, we then change our core business model and lose our focus.
So what I suggest to BNI members is to look at this, not only from the perspective of BNI as an organization, but you, as an individual business, don’t try to be all things to all people. Do what you are best at, and do it better than anyone else in the world. BNI, I will tell anybody, is myopic. We’re myopic. We do one thing, and based on results, thousands and thousands of groups in dozens of countries around the world, we do it better than any other organization. We help people build their business through a structured referral networking program. We’re the biggest and the best at what we do, and we don’t try to be the best at other things.
I think that great companies know what business they’re in, and they focus on improving that business every day. And if you want to be successful in your networking efforts, then don’t try to be all things to all people. Do what you do, and do it better than anyone else.
What do you think about that, Priscilla?
Well, I agree. And that gives you an opportunity to hire other people, hopefully, in your BNI group, to take up the slack and come through with what they’re expert in.
Well, that’s true, however, you still don’t want to hire people that are going to take the company off mission.
I think the mission that any really successful business has is really Be One Thing to All People. If you can do one thing really, really well and provide that to all people in that target market, you’re going to be much, much more successful. And actually, what you’re talking about is sometimes a problem. You hire somebody and they want to take you down a rabbit hole; they want to take you down these trails to get you off mission. So it’s very important in individual businesses to really have a sense of what your business is, what it’s about, what your mission is, what your purpose is as an organization, and stick to the knitting. That’s what Tom Peters talked about in the book In Search of Excellence decades ago. The great companies are ones to stick to the knitting; they stick to what they do, and they do it better than anyone else.
Oh, great. That’s good advice. I like that.
And BNI members, this applies not just to BNI as an organization. One of the reasons I did this podcast is because I do get asked this question, and I want to be able to refer people, because I think it’s a legitimate question. There’s nothing wrong with it, because this is a need that businesses have. But the thing is that you should go to the expert in those areas. Go to an expert in sales management. Go to an expert in time management and business skills and taxes. And BNI is not the expert.
I think BNI has been a great model for an organization that has stayed on mission, and it’s one of the reasons why we are as successful as we are today.
Well, thanks, Priscilla. I appreciate the question.
Great! Thank you, Dr. Misner.
Well, that’s it for this week, and 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 for listening. This is Priscilla Rice, and we hope you’ll join us next week for another exciting episode of The Official BNI Podcast.