When Dr. Misner’s daughter Cassie was 8 years old, she made him a stick figure from red pipe cleaner and called it Bob. He promised to take it everywhere with him, as in this photo from Hong Kong. He started taking these photos so he could send them to Cassie when he wasn’t able to make it to one of her events. Dr. Misner still carries Bob in his briefcase, even though Cassie is in her twenties.
Bob teaches us two lessons about networking. First, he is a great example of how small gestures can forge powerful connections between people. Even when you can’t be there with your professional connections, reach out to make contact. Staying connected is part of building a powerful network.
Second, Bob is a terrific representation of why it’s so important to explain the value that you and your business bring to the table. If you ask a stranger to photograph you with a pipe-cleaner man, you need to explain why. Once Dr. Misner explains his reason for wanting that photo, people always understand.
Bob has his own photo album–if you go to the public Ivan Misner page on Facebook, you can see all the pictures.
Brought to you by Networking Now.
Complete Transcript of BNI Podcast Episode 328 –
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 am Priscilla Rice, and I am coming to you from Live Oak Recording Studio in Berkeley, CA. I am joined on the phone today by the Founder and Chairman of BNI, Dr. Ivan Misner. Hello Ivan. How are you?
I am doing great, Priscilla, and I have a topic today that is a little unusual. I try to do things that are educational to try to help members improve their game in BNI. This one is a little personal and educational. The educational part will come in. It is actually about Bob. Let me introduce you to Bob.
Who is Bob?
I am glad you asked that, Priscilla, but I know you know who Bob is. You have mentioned that you have seen him. So let me explain for the listeners who Bob is. This is a real personal story and it involves my daughter, Cassie, who is in her 20’s now. When she was only eight years old, she made this little stick man out of red pipe cleaner. She named him Bob and she gave him to me.
I said, “Honey, I will take Bob with me everywhere.” There is a photograph here on this podcast of Bob and I in the tallest hotel in Hong Kong in a restaurant. My wife was kind enough to take a picture of Bob and I. Everywhere I go in the world, I now take Bob with me and get a picture.
Why do I take pictures of Bob all around the world when it was given to me when my daughter was only eight years old? It all actually started with one of my business trips which prevented me from getting to one of the Girl Scout events that Cassie participated in. She had given me Bob just a few weeks earlier. I had told her I would take him with me everywhere. I didn’t plan on taking photographs. A few weeks later, I couldn’t make the Girls Scout event.
One of the great things about BNI is I get to travel a lot, but it is also a challenge sometimes, especially when my children were younger. I felt really bad that I couldn’t make her Girl Scout event, so I literally took a photo of Bob and myself in the mirror at the hotel and I sent it to Cassie. I told her that Bob and I were thinking about her and congratulating her on her achievement. She liked that so much that I took Bob with me everywhere I could and took photographs of Bob.
Throughout the years of travel, I have always stowed Bob safely in my briefcase. He is always in my briefcase. If you happen to meet me at some event- I find that Bob gets as many photographs now as I do, by the way. If you want a picture of me and Bob, I am happy to pull Bob out. I usually have someone take a picture of two of us and I send it back to Cassie.
More often than not, I see people looking at me and going, what in the heck is this guy’s deal, pulling out this little red stick figure pipe cleaner man? But once I explain the photo where it comes from, you should see how amazing people’s responses are and how they change. One of the great things, as I have said, about running a successful international business is that you get to travel. Yet one of the really bad things about running a successful international business is that you have to travel. When you have small children, it can be a real challenge. People, especially those with children of their own, understand that.
So I want to explain the purpose of taking that picture with the goofy little red man and why that is a networking topic. It’s a networking topic because there are two lessons that I think we can get from Bob. One is it’s a great example of how the smallest gesture can forge powerful connections between people. I think that is probably the most significant of the two. I may not be able to be with my daughter at times when I want to be, but the simple gesture of sending her a picture of Bob and I all around the world really makes an impact on our relationship, a positive impact.
That same concept applies to keeping you connected with your networking contacts. I don’t mean that you have to take a picture of someone like Bob, but staying connected with people helps maintain that relationship. You may not be able to attend every event that you would like to or to every lunch with a contact who is trying to connect with you, but just a simple strategy of staying connected, such as a quick call or a check in or sending them a card can really make a difference with the people that you want to build a long term relationship with, a professional relationship.
The second is that Bob is, I believe, a terrific representation of why it is so important to explain the value that you and your business bring to the table and not assume that people understand. Now, let me make the connection here. When my unsuspecting Bob photographers, when I walk up- now people come to me and ask but all the time in the past, I used to have to walk up to someone and say, “Would you like to get a picture of me with the Petronas Towers in the background or the Eiffel Tower in the background?” Or whatever.
People would say yeah and then I would pull out this little pipe cleaner man and they would go, “Uh, what’s that?” They thought I was crazy traveling around with this little traveling companion. They oftentimes, I am sure, thought that I belonged in a room with padded white walls because it was so strange, but they didn’t understand the value that Bob brings to the table as a powerful connector- and me being able to stay connected to one of my children.
Once I explain Bob’s purpose and the role that he serves, people totally understand. His value is undeniable and people want to help me. They applaud that I do this. I say this because if you can explain the value that you and your business present to your networking partners, then you are not going to leave money on the table with them. You are going to make a connection that really builds that long term relationship.
Cassie is now in her 20’s. She’s in college and I still send her photos of Bob as I travel around the world. Now, Bob has his own photo album, so if you go to the public Ivan Misner Facebook page- we will do a link here in this podcast. Take a look at photos of Bob all over the world. Bob is looking a little worn with his travels. I think I am too, sometimes. As long as I am on the road, Bob will continue to be my traveling companion and Cassie will continue to see evidence of our adventures and the connection that I have with her, that I am thinking about her as I travel around the world.
I think it sounds really fun, like a great thing to do and it warms my heart because you are just a great day. It shows through the story. But I was going to make a suggestion. You have already made this wonderful little place on Facebook to view them, but you could make a beautiful little book. You know all those internet sites when you can make your own hardbound copy. That would be fun to have for your grandkids or whoever to have this picture of you and Bob in all these places in a book. I think it would be neat.
That’s a great idea. I bet Cassie would love that. You have probably given me a great Christmas gift or birthday gift idea. That’s another thing- Cassie and I often have our birthday photos taken together because we share a birthday- June 30th.
You do? Oh, wow!
June 30th. Both of us were born on June 30th. I thought that was amazing. Of course, the first 10 years, we spent going to Chuck E Cheese, which is a pizza place, for those of you who don’t know, in the U.S. But now, she is at the age that we have gone to some amazing places together. We went to Japan, and all over Japan, took pictures of Bob and myself and her. In Europe. I have pictures in Africa with Bob.
But the key again is making that connection. If you can find ways to stay connected with people who are important in your life, that is part of building a powerful personal network. That is why I have decided to kind of share this very personal story with everyone on BNI Podcast. Thanks, Priscilla.
Okay, great. Alright, thank you, Ivan. That is really a sweet story. Well, I think that is it for this week. 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. Thank you much for listening. This is Priscilla Rice, and we hope you will join us next week for another exciting episode of The Official BNI Podcast.