Dr. Misner just finished surveying 12,000 business people from every populated continent. He asked which of these four things was most important when making a referral:
- Knowing a person’s character
- Knowing a person’s level of competency
- Using the person’s product or service myself
- Knowing a person’s success
Not surprisingly, knowing a person’s character number one. What did surprise Dr. Misner was that neither using a person’s product or service yourself nor knowing a person’s level of success mattered very much.
This means that many of your referrals will come from people who have not actually used your products or services—if they have reason to believe in your character and competency.
Brought to you by Networking Now.
Complete Transcription of BNI Podcast Episode 145 –
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’m joined on the phone today by the founder and the chairman of BNI, Dr. Ivan Misner.
Hello, Ivan. How are you, and what do you have for us today?
I am doing great, and today I want to talk about a survey that I’ve completed. It’s actually part of a survey for a new book I’m working on about gender, the difference between men and women and how they network. But we have a lot of basic questions about business networking that we ask, and so I’m starting to compile some of the data. So I just finished this survey of more than 12,000 business people from every populated continent of the world. And one of the questions we asked the respondents was, “Which of the following is more important to you when referring business to others? Which of the following is more important to you when referring business to others?” We gave them four choices. One, knowing a person’s character; two, knowing a person’s level of competency; three, using the person’s product or service myself; and four, knowing a person’s success. So those are the four things that we asking them to pick from, which one was most important.
Now, not surprisingly, knowing a person’s character ranked number one in the survey, and I wasn’t surprised by that. But interestingly, using the product or service myself ranked third out of the four choices. So knowing a person’s character was number one, knowing a person’s level of competency was number two, using a product or service themself was number three, and knowing a person’s level of success was a very distant fourth.
But I was a little surprised about using the product or service myself ranking so low, because it was kind of a distant third. And if the listeners are interested in seeing a graph of this, they can go to my blog, NetworkingNowBlog.com, NetworkingNowBlog, com and take a look at the February 4th article there, and you’ll see this graph that’s there. It think it’s important to know that when people are referring you, that knowing your level of character is important, but having actually used your products or services turns out not to be as important as I would have thought. Often, we think that the best source of referrals must be our clients, our customers, our patients, and although they’re definitely a good source, they’re not always our only source. In fact, based on this survey, personally using and experiencing another person’s products or services before referring that business to the person was not nearly as important as their character and their competency. And this really is valuable in BNI.
Now, granted, we recommend you use a BNI member before you refer them, but based on this, you don’t necessarily have to use them before you refer them. This is why testimonials and endorsements in the chapter are so important, because if you hear somebody say over and over and over again, “I’ve used this person. I’ve used this person,” then you start to be comfortable with their products or service. What this basically means is that you need to build your credibility with people who know you. Whether they’ve used your business or not, if people trust your character and competency, they are likely to refer you regardless of whether they’ve actually used your products or services.
This is an important paradigm shift. For a lot of people, it means that many of your referrals may actually come from people other than your clients. If you learn how to network effectively, particularly in groups like BNI, you can use this to your benefit.
That’s all I’ve got for today, Priscilla. Any questions before we close up?
Well, I just want to say that I think you hit upon with the testimonials is what would make somebody feel comfortable referring someone they haven’t used, and that’s why I think it’s so important in the meeting.
Yeah, the testimonial portion of a BNI meeting is really critical, and I think that the testimonials are what helps build your character and your competency. When somebody stands up and says, “Wow, they did what they said they would do, they did a good job,” then that applies to somebody’s character and competency, and I’d be willing to refer someone, even if I hadn’t used them, if I’ve heard many people say, “They did a great job. They charged what they said they would charge.” I feel comfortable referring them, and I think that’s one of the reasons why BNI works as well as it does, is that it’s not required that you use the members, although it is recommended.
Don’t get me wrong, I won’t understate that. It is recommended; it’s not required. You can absolutely refer people that you haven’t actually done business with yet, and most of that happens because of the credibility that’s built during the testimonial portion of the meetings. That’s why the testimonial portion is so important.
Yeah, I totally agree. Okay, Ivan, well, that’s great! Thank you so much.
I would just like 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.