John Meyer returns for another episode in the “Get Connected–Stay Connected” series. There are three ways to build your network strategically in BNI Connect, which is a closed system (a.k.a. a “walled garden”) that only BNI members can participate in, though members of the public can see your profile.
- Through your profession. More than 1500 groups have been established, and many of them are based on profession.
- Based on your target market. What types of industries can give you referrals? If you’re a realtor in America, a relocation specialist in Germany might be a good connection.
- Based on your contact spheres. These are people in the same professions who would form your contact sphere in your local chapter.
You don’t know who can give you the next piece of business, so go out and find them.
Brought to you by the Global Networking Show.
Complete Transcript of BNI Podcast Episode 359 –
Hello everyone and welcome back to The Official BNI Podcast brought to you by the Global Networking Show, which is hosted by Andy Lopata and Dr. Ivan Misner. 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’m doing great, Priscilla. I have with us today our regular guest, John Meyer. John is the US National Director for BNI. He has directly under his management over 3800 members, but he really oversees BNI operations in the United States. He is also a contributing author to the New York Times bestseller, Masters of Networking. He holds the record for being a guest on BNI Podcast more than anyone else. John, it is great to have you back on the podcast.
Thanks, Ivan. It is great to be here. Hello, Priscilla.
Today we are going to be talking about Get Connected, Stay Connected, which we do the first week of every month. For about 12 months, we will be doing this. We are well over half way. This month is “Build Your Network” and there are three areas that you would like to talk about with building your network in Get Connected, Stay Connected. I am going to turn it over to you, John.
Thanks. First off, I have a slight disclaimer. Part of why Get Connected, Stay Connected was created was so I could have the record for the most podcasts.
I believe that.
This is an exciting topic that we are talking about this month. We have taught for a number of months now that BNI is truly a global network, a global organization where members can connect with members all over the world because of BNI Connect. And this is how you start to take advantage of BNI, being a member, leveraging being a member of BNI.
The first thing that I want to talk about is building your network through connections. Everybody is familiar with Facebook, LinkedIn and all different kinds of social networks. However, BNI Connect is a closed garden, only open to BNI members, so you are building a network of like-minded people all around the world. And there are three things or three ways to strategically build your network through BNI Connect. We will just talk briefly about those.
The first thing is based on your profession. So if I am a Realtor, I can do a search in BNI Connect for Realtors around the world. We know Realtors have a great network set up and that they refer business back and forth throughout the country, probably around the world. But now you’re solidifying that with setting up connections with Realtors in BNI around the world that get the referral process.
So start to look for Realtors or, again, whatever your profession may be, to connect with.
You mentioned- John, if I could just jump in real quick- that BNI connect is a walled garden, which it is, meaning you have to be a member to play in the garden. I just wanted to give sort of a metaphor for everyone. Imagine that you could not join LinkedIn, that you were blocked from playing on LinkedIn.
That is what BNI Connect is. You have to be a BNI member to participate in BNI Connect. However, the public can see your profile. So anyone can look for you, but they can’t play in the garden. Only BNI members can play in the garden.
Sorry to interrupt. Go ahead.
No, no, no, no. That is a great point. People need to understand that definition.
So the first thing is build your connections by your profession. I have seen members start to interact around the world. “Hey, I tried this commercial out this week and it was great,” or, “I tried this out and it didn’t really work so well. What are you doing that you have been so successful?”
So within the same profession, you start to have coaches, mentors, people helping each other on how to do BNI better along with referrals. So I think one of the first aspects that people will dive into is profession.
And there are a lot of professional groups. There are social media, marketing, photography, health and wellness, real estate- [these] are just a few of the ones. Over 1500 groups have been established and many of them are based on profession.
Absolutely. There are a lot of opportunities that are already existing out there once people become familiar with the building of the network.
The second thing to think about is based on your target market. What types of industries do you want to do business with? Again, maybe we will focus on a Realtor. Maybe it is a commonality, if you will. Realtors’ target markets- who do they want to do business with? Who can give them referrals all day, everyday? What types of industries?
So now the Realtors are starting to identify different professions within BNI around the world on who they want to connect with and how they can start to do business. I think a relocation specialist, maybe in Germany, would be a great contact for a top Realtor in America. You never know where those nest referrals are coming from.
So from a target market perspective, start to look and see who you can get referrals from, which leads into the last conversation, and that is your contact spheres.
Contact spheres- again, I am talking Realtors because I think most people can relate to that. Realtors setting up their networks with mortgage loan officers, title companies, insurance agents, attorneys, people who are in their realm of business who they can do a lot of business with. They are going after the same types of clients.
Strategically building your network through BNI Connect with like-minded members who get the givers gain mentality, I think, is critical in the success of building your business and building your success in BNI.
I agree and I think the groups, in particular- and we are talking about increasing your connections primarily through groups on professions, target market, contact spheres, etc. I think that is the real vision making piece of BNI Connect. We did BNI Connect for a number of reasons. We wanted to have the operational system, a way to track referrals, a way to track membership and attendance- the admin piece of it.
Then there is the website piece of it. Finally, we have a similar visual look worldwide because of the many, many websites.
Those two things, but it’s the groups that are the vision making piece. For the first time, our organization is truly connected worldwide. You can be a local business anywhere in the world and have a global market by participating in BNI.
Make use of that. That is what John is suggesting here. Build your connections globally. You may not even be a global business, but building your connections globally enable people to know who you are so that they can refer people to you if they know someone moving to your country, state or city.
A lot of referrals that are taking place now are referrals of people who know someone in another whole country who is looking for some service, and they connect the two people together. They often meet through the groups on BNI Connect.
It’s fun when you start to make international connections when you never thought that was possible when you first applied for membership in BNI. The vision that people start to see now through BNI Connect is unbelievable. You hear the stories all the time. “I can’t believe that I just got contacted by somebody from Japan.” Or Australia or New Zealand. Wherever the case may be.
I heard of two members talking back and forth using Google Translate to have a conversation and pass a referral, which I think was just incredible. Not in my wildest dreams would I have thought that would happen when I started BNI in 1985. It was before the internet. To have people in different languages communicating, connecting and referring each other is just incredible.
We truly are the united nations.
Yep. Very true. Listen, anything you want to add, John, before we wrap up?
I don’t, other than you don’t know who can give you the next piece of business. Go out and find them.
And they are there on BNI Connect. This is part of the Get Connected, Stay Connected series that John and his team developed. We really appreciate all your efforts on this, John, and it is making a big difference. BNI Connect continues to grow month in and month out.
If you are listening to this podcast and you have not gone to BNI Connect, go to it now. Get on BNI Connect. Join my “From the Founder” group. I have thousands of members who are connected with me directly. One of the things about BNI Connect is that it flattens the communication hierarchy. You can connect with me directly on BNI Connect. And with John Meyer as well. You can connect with the person who has been my guest on BNI Podcast more than anyone else.
John, thanks for your efforts. I really appreciate it. Priscilla, back to you.
Okay. Great. I think that was very inspiring. I am going to follow through on that. I think that’s it for this week. I want to thank you, Dr. Misner, and I would just like to remind the listeners that this podcast has been brought to you by the Global Networking Show, which is hosted by Andy Lopata and our own Dr. Ivan Misner. Thank you so 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.