Chances are your network is both deep and shallow. All networking connections start out shallow, and you often don’t know more about the people you meet at networking events than the superficial things you hear about them there.
BNI is an opportunity to deepen your network, because you meet the same people week after week and can get to know them better. It’s the deep relationships, the ones where you know about people’s families, hobbies, and personal goals, that are the most powerful.
To build a deep network, pay attention to what people say when you talk to them. The expert on this is Harvey Mackay, as exemplified in Dig Your Well Before You’re Thirsty. He makes notes, and when he meets a person for the second time, he remembers the names and ages of their children.
We have a tool in BNI for turning a shallow network into a deep network: it’s the GAINS Exchange. This exercise can benefit you as a member and increase referrals even between members who have known each other for years.
Brought to you by Networking Now.
Complete Transcript of BNI Podcast Episode 382 –
Hello everyone and welcome back to The Official BNI Podcast brought to you by the 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 and where are you?
Hi Priscilla. I am in the LA area at BNI headquarters this week. We had our big conference last week and we are training national directors from around the world. We are getting close to 60 countries now and so we have a number of new countries that are here at BNI headquarters.
How many members do you think there are in BNI?
I can tell you almost exactly 171,000 members.
That is a lot!
It has been Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride.
Incredible growth in the organization. Today we are going to talk about the subject of is your network deep or is it shallow? Is your personal network and your professional network deep or shallow? Chances are it is a little bit of both. The questions are how strong is the deep part of your network?
A shallow network is where all of the people meet and basically start out and where in my opinion, far too many of them, will remain. You meet and you learn a little bit about a lot of people, but you don’t do much deeper. BNI is a little bit of an exception because you are meeting people every single week and you are able to go deep with them. So BNI is a great way to take your network deep in many places.
But you know, this goes beyond that because you are networking elsewhere, or you should be networking elsewhere, like chambers, service clubs, those kinds of organizations. You don’t know, oftentimes, much more about those people than the superficial things that you pick up as you meet them at the other networking events.
A deep network is one that contains contacts who you know a lot more about and who usually know a whole lot more about you. It’s great to have a large network, but if your network is a mile wide with tons of people but no deep relationships, or very few of them, it will never be very powerful. You need to have a wide and a deep network with some relationships that go really deep. To maximize those relationships, you need to know as much about that person as you possibly can.
For example, you want to find out about their family, their hobbies, their interests. One of the masters of developing a deep network is Harvey Mackay. Harvey wrote Swim with the Sharks and he wrote Dig Your Well Before You Are Thirsty. I know Harvey. It is truly amazing to me just how much information Harvey asks for and retains.
I am pretty confident he doesn’t remember it all. He writes it down. When he decides that you are someone he wants to have in his deep network, he really has a conversation with you. When I met Harvey for the first time, it was by phone and we had a really nice conversation. What was interesting was the second time I had a conversation with Harvey, he opened it by saying, “So, how are your kids? You have three, right? How is Ashley doing? What is Cassie doing now? How is Trey? Is he about ready to go to college?” I was like, Harvey is good.
Now, he talks about doing this in his book, Dig Your Well Before You Are Thirsty, but it is really nice to see him in action because he really paid attention to information that I gave him on the first conversation and he obviously kept good records so that when we had a conversation again, he was able to draw from it. I was totally flabbergasted. I was amazed that he took those kinds of careful notes and that he made sure to use them when we spoke again.
It turns out, as I have gotten to know him more, that he carefully catalogs that information and he adds to it every time he meets someone or talks to someone. He adds, you know, their pets’ names, their children’s names, your birthday, the anniversary of your business, whatever kind of information he can get.
I saw him once at a conference start talking about people there. It was a really well-known BNI Director. It was at a BNI Conference. He started giving information, really detailed information about where he went to school and what his major was and what kind of pets he had. I thought, I have no idea who that is. When he said who it was, I really felt like shame on me. There was so much about this person I really didn’t know.
So this technique about getting information is really valuable. I talk about it because we have a tool in BNI to do that. We have a tool. It is called the GAINS Exchange. One of the best things I have ever seen for shallow or casual business relationships to deepen is through the GAINS Exchange.
Now, if you are listening to this podcast and have no idea what I am talking about, it is in most versions of the MSP manual. You can get it from your local BNI Director. The GAINS Exchange is out there. It is also in several of my books including Business by Referral and the fourth edition of World’s Best Known Marketing Secret has it. It is in a lot of my material and a lot of BNI material.
The GAINS Exchange stands for goals, accomplishments, networks, interests and skills. If you fill this out- Priscilla, have you ever filled out a GAINS Exchange?
I did. It was so long ago. I remember I kind of stressed about it. It was when I first joined BNI and I have been a member for 10 years. So it has been a long time since I looked at it.
They are great for one to one’s.
Yeah, I know. I am sure they are.
They start the conversation, and I will talk about that in a moment. Also, in BNIConnect, you can fill out your GAINS Exchange. You have all there all the time, so you don’t have to redo it every time. Fill out your GAINS Exchange right there on BNIConnect.
These work great on one to ones. We tested this out. We gave the GAINS sheets, that you exchange this information, to chapters and asked them to try this out to see how it would work. One conversation in particular stuck with me.
It was a meeting where two guys who were given the form protested. They just protested. “This is wienie.” That was their expression. “This is wienie, silly. We don’t need to do this to get to know each other better. Mind you, they had been in the chapter for almost a year but they had never referred each other.”
We really stood our ground and said, “We want you to do this. Do it as a favor. Test it out. If it doesn’t work, fine, we need to know.”
During their conversation, they were sharing through the GAINS Exchange, and they found out that they were both soccer coaches- for our international fans, football coaches- for their sons’ soccer teams. All of a sudden these guys were practically best friends. They talked about soccer. They talked about plays. They talked about, you know, the sport. They ended up even actually scouting for each other. One would scout the competition and the other would scout the competition.
Guess what happened after just a few months. I bet you can guess.
They gave each other referrals.
They did. Yeah. They had known each other a year- a year and never made a connection. They made a connection over their sons’ sports teams. This is what I am talking about with your network being shallow or deep. Sometimes you can start to go deep in a connection and a relationship by something as simple as learning a shared interest or a hobby, something you would both like to do.
It’s really fun to see people do the GAINS Exchange and they start out talking strictly on a business level. What do you do for a living? What is business like? And then suddenly, one of them shares something unique like an unusual hobby or a place that they dream of traveling to and the conversation just takes off.
So things like hobbies or travel goals are useful information, too, because really, people don’t care just about your business. As you build a relationship with people, they care about you. That hobby is oftentimes a bridge that can take people into a deeper conversation about you and build the relationship which ends up passing referrals.
I have something to add, which is I think that a relationship goes deeper when you get a little more personal with somebody and you might share something you are vulnerable about or an issue that has happened- maybe your health or something in your family. It’s kind of more personal and more intimate. I guess that could come from a GAINS Exchange also. It just seems that it’s more than just knowing what your kids’ names are or when they are graduating high school.
It is more than that, and Harvey definitely goes deeper than just the superficial stuff. I was just amazed at how much he had. But you are right, it does go more than that. I think the GAINS Exchange is the beginning of that process.
I am not sure that when people are just getting to know each other – sometimes you can give TMI, too much information too quickly. But in a natural progression of the development of the relationship, being vulnerable on some issue is not a bad thing.
You can even start off with a business issue. “You know, I really blew it on this business issue and I should have handled this differently. Have you ever run into something like that?” Get feedback from somebody. It’s a reasonably safe place to begin to have that kind of dialogue.
But it all starts with sharing this kind of information and making sure that your network is deep, not just shallow, that it is not just wide but deep in some places. BNI is a great place to build some relationships and use the GAINS Exchange.
Great. Okay. Well, what else? Can you say anything else about it?
That’s all I have for today. Here is the thing for education coordinators who might be listening to this today. I would love for you to share this at your chapter. Print out a GAINS Exchange, take it to the chapter, have everyone fill it out. Tell your chapter members to go to BNIConnect and complete their GAINS Exchange. Then set up one to ones and for all the one to ones you do in the future, take your GAINS Exchange with you and just exchange that information. Then share it and talk about it.
Last thing, if you are listening to this podcast, I would love to hear a story about how you used a GAINS Exchange or how you saw a GAINS Exchange used and how that led to something positive in the organization. Give me a story about something you have seen in terms of the GAINS Exchange.
Okay, great. Thanks, Dr. Misner. 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 for listening. This is Priscilla Rice, and we hope you will join us next week for another exciting episode of The Official BNI Podcast.