This topic came up on the Ask Ivan Misner website, where you can type in a question and connect to a live teleconference where Dr. Misner answers it.
Several people asked about Contact Spheres and Power Teams in BNI.
A Contact Sphere is a group of professionals who complement rather than compete with each other.
A Power Team is a subset of your Contact Sphere that actively works together to pass referrals to each other. An example of a Power Team might be a caterer, a florist, a photographer, and a travel agent, the so-called “Wedding Mafia.” Priscilla’s chapter has a health care Power Team.
Every BNI group wants to create strong Power Teams, because they generate more referrals than groups without them. But it’s possible to go too far with Power Teams and leave other members feeling excluded. If your Power Teams meet separately from the rest of the BNI group, suggest that they invite other members of the group to visit their team meetings.
Brought to you by Ask Ivan Misner.
Complete Transcription of BNI Podcast Episode 151 –
Hello everyone, and welcome back to The Official BNI Podcast brought to you by AskIvanMisner.com, which is a Web site where you can ask Ivan any question you have about networking.
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 today and what do you have to share with us?
I’m going great, Priscilla, and today I want to talk a little bit about Power Teams and Contact Spheres. As you mentioned, AskIvanMisner is new sponsor for the BNI podcast. It’s a Web site, AskIvanMisner.com is a Web site that’s done by a friend of mine, Alex Mandossian. And Alex is like the world’s leading expert on Ask Web sites, and this is his Web site, and I’m participating in it, obviously.
But one of the things that I wanted to do was give some samples of the kinds of things that we’re talking about. So from time to time, I’m going to do a podcast with a question that came from AskIvanMisner.com. So if you’d like to have some questions that I might use on the podcast and that I’m often using at AskIvanMisner, got to AskIvanMisner.com and type in your question. If you don’t have a question, it’s okay; you can say, “I don’t have a question today,” but then you’ll get the link to do the live telebridge, so you can actually go and listen to my answers on AskIvanMisner. I usually do about 10 or 12 different questions, and you’ll be able to get to hear them all. And if you want, you can go back and pick up some of the old recordings. It’s free, by the way. It doesn’t cost anything. If you want to pick up a previous recording, there’s a small fee to pick up the recorded telebridges, but you can go there live.
So what I want to do is I want to pull out a question or two from time to time and share them on my podcast so that you can get a sense of the kinds of questions that I’m getting. And the one I want to talk about this week is about Contact Spheres and Power Teams. I had several people, John, Robert, Karen, Claudelle, all ask about, “How do you maximize referrals stemming from Power Teams? And how do you use Power Team effectively?”
So I wanted to talk briefly about Contact Sphere and Power Teams, because they’re different, and we use both phrases.
Contact spheres I spoke about for the first time in a book, The World’s Best Known Marketing Secret. And a Contact Sphere is a group of business professionals that have a symbiotic relationship; they complement rather than compete with one another. A Power Team is a subset of that Contact Sphere. These are the people with whom you have a relationship with that are in your Contact Sphere that you’re actively engaging in a referral relationship. I would describe it as two concentric circles. The Contact Sphere is all of the people that you could potentially be in a symbiotic relationship with, and the Power Team is group of people that you actually have that symbiotic relationship with and are passing referrals to. So they are part of the overall Contact Sphere, potential professions that are synergistic with yours.
And I’ve talked about these in podcasts and in other venues. These are professions that just have that ability to refer one another, the financial planner, the banker, the attorney, people that have a similar type of client, and they’re servicing that client from a different perspective. My favorite one is the caterer, the florist, the photographer, the travel agent; I call that the wedding mafia. They’re referring each other like crazy, they’re working with each other a lot and referring one another to each other’s customers and clients. And so that wedding Contact Sphere or Power Team is a very, very important one.
Just so you understand the difference between a Contact Sphere and a Power Team, the Contact Sphere is all of the professions that theoretically can fit within your Power Team. The Power Team are those synergistic professions that you have a relationship with.
So in BNI, you want to try to create some really strong Power Teams, people that are in the symbiotic kind of a profession. One of the things I’ve kind of discovered over time is that BNI chapters that have at least three or four really active Power Teams tend to generate substantially more referrals that the average chapter. So if your chapter can focus on building some really strong Power Teams, you can substantially increase those referrals in the group, because oftentimes, one referral can be two or three referrals. If you have somebody that’s getting married, that can go to the caterer, the florist, the photographer. So one referral ends up going to three people. So the more Power Teams that you build in a chapter, the more successful it will be.
And I have one other suggestion, and then, Priscilla, if you want to chat about this or if you have any questions, I’d be glad to talk further. One thing that I’ve seen is it’s difficult for chapters to build those Power Teams, but when they do, they can really be powerful, very successful. But it’s possible to almost go too far. I’ve recently been seeing some chapters that have created such strong Power Teams that there’s almost a sense of exclusivity, where they’re being excluded.
For example, a lot of chapters may have a Power Team that meets aside from the BNI meeting; many of them I’ve seen have Power Team meetings once a month where the people in that Power Team are meeting and talking. So here’s something that I saw with a chapter that had that problem. They felt that their Power Teams had become so strong and so powerful that the people who weren’t in them felt left out. So here was something that I thought was just brilliant. What they started to do to come across as more inclusive with their fellow BNI members was that at each one of their Power Team meetings they invited someone who was not in the Power Team. They started with people in other Power Teams first, and then they went to people who weren’t in any Power Team. And they always invited at least one person who was not part of their Power Team to sit in on the discussion that the Power Team was having about, where they were, what potential clients they had, what clients they were about to pick up, whatever the topic of discussion. There was somebody that was not in the Power Team who was present.
And the beauty of that is twofold. First, there’s a sole sense of inclusion, and so they didn’t feel clique-ish. It’s possible for them to come across as clique-ish unless they’re cognizant of being inclusive. And the second thing was it gave people from other Power Teams great ideas of how to effectively use a Power Team, because they saw what others were doing.
And so this chapter went from starting to have the sense of Power Teams almost being clique-ish to Power Teams being a great tool for inclusiveness and for learning how to do this thing called networking more effectively.
So there’s a few ideas about Contact Spheres, Power Teams, both what they are, and most importantly, what to do when one gets really big, sharing that concept with other people in your group.
How does that sound, Priscilla?
Sounds good. I was just thinking, we do, we have a Power Team in our chapter, and it’s the health provider Power Team. And there are quite a few of them, and I have been a little bit jealous that they have such a great connection. They have a physical therapist, an acupuncturist, what else is there, a chiropractor, a massage therapist, and I’m jealous. They have this great way of giving back and forth to each other, and it’s really nice, and I would love to have the same thing. But I haven’t actually felt bad about it, and I’ve just kind of noticed that they do have these extra meetings, and they seem to benefit from it.
Well, one of the ways to get started in having that for yourself is to work that Power Team and see if they’re willing to have some people visit their meetings so that you can replicate that. Because you get into a chapter with two, three, four really strong Power Teams and you’ve got a chapter that’s just passing a ton of business.
So I hope this podcast has done a few things. First, I invite people to AskIvanMisner.com. If you have a question, and for John, Robert, Karen, Claudelle, thank you so much for asking this question. I did cover it in an AskIvanMisner telebridge, but we do about 12, 10 or 12 different questions, and it takes about an hour.
So these podcasts are a little shorter. I’m only going to be able to cover one. But I will cover from time to time some of the things that are AskIvanMisner.com.
Hope I gave you some ideas on Contact Spheres and Power Teams and how to build them and what to do once you build them with that sense of inclusiveness.
So that’s it for today, Priscilla. Thank you so much.
Okay, great. Well, thank you, Dr. Misner.
I’d just like to remind the listeners that this podcast has been brought to you by AskIvanMisner.com. 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.