Sometimes good referrals come from completely unexpected sources. If you develop a powerful personal network, you can increase the volume of your business because of the people within that network. In BNI, you are potentially linked to a vast network beyond your own. And you never know when a simple referral will lead to an amazing opportunity.
Here’s a story to illustrate:
A few years back, a BNI member in the window blind business was asked by a fellow BNI member to help his elderly neighbor put a blind in her back window because she wanted more privacy. Most companies had refused it as too small a job. The woman baked him a plate of chocolate-chip cookies and explained that her son would normally have done this, but he was on an extended business trip.
A month later, a stretch limo pulled up in front of the BNI member’s store and asked whether he remembered installing a small blind for an elderly woman, and introduced himself as her son, who was building a 6,000-square-foot home and needed window coverings. That was the most profitable job that BNI member had ever received.
You don’t need a room full of CEOs to network with. You need to network with people who care about you.
If you have a story about an unexpected referral, share it in the comments.
Brought to you by Networking Now.
Complete Transcript of Episode 417 –
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, California. I am joined on the phone today by the Founder and the Chief Visionary Officer of BNI, Dr. Ivan Misner. Hello, Ivan. How are you and where are you this week?
Hi Priscilla. This week, I am at my lake house in Big Bear. We have about 20 of the executives with BNI management- around 10 or 12 executives with BNI management and then another eight or so National Directors coming for a series of management meetings for BNI up here in Big Bear. This is sort of our strategic planning group for our organization to help us plan for our ongoing growth.
That is great. I bet it is a beautiful spot.
It is a beautiful spot and it is fantastic to get everyone together to do strategic thinking for the organization and planning for our ongoing growth. We continue to grow so dramatically that if you don’t have a direction in mind, you can end up going the wrong way, so getting together regularly is really important.
Yeah, I know it sounds wonderful. So what are you going to share with us?
You know, sometimes good referrals come from sources that you least expect. I know people have heard that. People say that. I am not sure that people understand just how true that is.
A lot of people that I meet want to network exclusively with CEO’s. I meet people in BNI who say, “My real target market is senior management. I want to find the top dog.” I have seen people who say, “I am not going to join BNI because what I really want is to be in a room with CEOs.”
First of all, don’t hold your breath trying to find a network of CEOs. It may exist, but you won’t be able to join because it is for CEO’s. It is not for you. There are organizations out there and many of them require that you be a senior executive, prove that you are a senior executive, and some of them even require that you produce financial statements from your company to show that you are a large or medium-size company.
So they have ways of screening you out, but more importantly, the CEO’s don’t want to network with you. They are hiding from you. I am talking to BNI members. They are hiding from you because they think you are going to try to sell to them.
Which you are.
Which you are. So they insulate themselves from those that they think may try to sell them products or services. However, if you develop a powerful personal network, you can increase the volume of your business because of the people that you know in your network.
You know, BNI is about going deep and developing relationships. You have potentially linked to a vast network beyond your own, and you never know who might be in this extended network. Also, you never know how a simple referral in BNI could lead to an amazing referral.
It has happened to me. I have had simple referrals that have led to amazing opportunities. I have had a simple referral that led to ripples to me meeting Richard Branson. But it started with a request from a BNI member.
I will tell you a story that I got from a BNI member a few years back. He got a referral. He was in the drapery business and window blinds. He received a referral from a BNI member and he said it was a referral but it was really more of a favor, if you don’t mind doing it. As a matter of fact, the drapery guy told me that he didn’t even hand out the referral at the meeting because he felt it was more of a favor than a referral.
He said what it was was there was a woman who lived close to the member who gave the referral. She was in her late 70’s. She had tried to contact drapery and window blind companies to install a pull blind on a very small window in her home. She just felt that people could walk into her back yard and look in her back yard. It was just a thing she had and she wanted help but nobody would come out and do it because it was too small of a job.
So the BNI member said, “Look, it is more of a favor. Would you mind looking at it? She is a sweet lady and a good friend, but I am not good at this stuff. I can’t do it.”
So he said, “Absolutely. I will go do it.” He showed up. The woman explained that normally her son would take care of this stuff, but he was on an extended business trip and no drapery companies or blind companies in the area would do it. None.
And he said the woman was so nice. He walked in and the first thing he do was this wafting smell of chocolate chip cookies. She baked him chocolate chip cookies since he was so nice to come there. A big plate of chocolate chip cookies and milk. He had to eat before he could start working. He just understood why this BNI member was so fond of her. She was such a nice lady, a wonderful woman.
He didn’t charge her for the trip, too. I forgot to mention that. It was not close to him. He didn’t charge her for the long distance fee. He mostly charged her for materials and a little bit of his time. He felt it was his good deed for the week and he felt good about it.
About a month later, the BNI member was in his warehouse and he noticed a really expensive stretch limo parked in front of his commercial building. He said, ” I don’t get too many stretch limos coming up here.” He watched as the chauffeur got out and got the door. A man in a very expensive suit gets out. He walks into his showroom in his retail store. And he asks one of his salesmen for the owner.
He was introduced to him. The man asked whether he remembered an elderly woman for which he installed a small blind. The man said, “Yeah. I remember her really well- a really nice lady.”
The man said, “That is my mother. She was really impressed with the work you did. You came out so far. And I saw the bill. You didn’t charge her much. So my mom said, ‘Look, son, you are always needing window blinds for your homes. You have to use this young man next time you need to do anything.'”
So he said, “Okay, Mom. I will.” And he said, “It just so happens that I am just now building a 6,000 square foot home on a bluff in Malibu.”
I want you to envision with me a 6,000 square foot home on bluff in Malibu. How many windows would there be? A lot. So he asked the BNI member to go out and install window coverings and to work with his wife. His exact words were, “Whatever she wants. I don’t care. Price is not object. Just get her what she wants. Make it good.”
The BNI member said it was the most profitable job he ever received. It came from a little old lady who needed a small window blind in her back door, and it came from a small referral that a BNI member gave.
My point here is you never know who people know and you never know where a referral can lead.
Is that a true story?
That is a true story. It is actually in one of my books.
That is a nice story.
True story, A BNI member told me that story personally. He said it was the best referral- he ended up making tens of thousands of dollars on that referral.
There is another one I talk about in a book about an architect in Vegas who got a referral from a window washer BNI member.
Architect got a referral from a window washer. He said he saw the window washer every week. They were in the group together for a year. The window washer never gave him any referrals until this one. That one referral was for a $300,000 job.
So there is another story where a direct referral, it came from a BNI member. It was a straight referral. It wasn’t a referral that turned into another referral. A straight referral worth $300,000 came from a window washer.
My point here is you don’t need to have a room full of CEOs. CEOs don’t care about you. What you need is to network with people who care about you. You want to network deep. You want to build strong relationships. In BNI, that is what we do. If you build strong relationships and you are specific, like we talked about in our last podcast, Specific is Terrific- if you are specific, you never know who these people know. You never know whose windows are being washed. You never know whose mom has a really wealthy son when you are putting up a window blind in their house.
Exactly. That is so true.
You just don’t know.
And so it is important, I think, in BNI just to focus on building relationships with quality businesspeople and not worry about whether it is a CEO sitting in the room.
Right. That is great, Ivan. I love those stories.
Thanks, and I would love to hear if you have a story, a great story about a referral that came from an unusual place and turned into business for you, I would love to have you put that here in the podcast. I read all the stories and all the comments and posts that get put up on BNIPodcast.com, so I would love to read yours.
Okay. Great, Ivan. Thank you so much. I think that is it for this week. I just want 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.