Michelle asked this question after discussions with fellow BNI directors and members.
If I stand up as a member and give my weekly presentation and say that my referral request is that you “Like” my business Facebook page, can my fellow members “Like” my business and submit a referral?
To answer this question, we have to return to the definition of a referral. A referral is the opportunity to do business with someone who is in the market to buy your product or service.
As a BNI member, you can redefine “referral” as it applies to you only. For some people, a referral to an unpaid speaking engagement can lead to a lot of business. So is it a good idea to count a Facebook “Like” as a referral?
- Is it really an opportunity to do business?
- How would the VP perform the referral reality test?
- Is it going to generate a “Thank you for close of business”?
Dr. Misner believes a Facebook “Like” is an endorsement, but not a referral. Your group can ask members to “Like” each other’s pages and recognize them for doing so without counting them as referrals.
Brought to you by Networking Now.
Complete Transcript of Episode 467 –
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?
I am on the road still. I am in northern California at the Transformational Leadership Council meeting. I have mentioned it a number of times here on the podcast. I am a member of TLC, which is the organization which was founded by Jack Canfield, who wrote this book series, Chicken Soup for the Soul. We do these events twice a year. I really learn a lot and come back to BNI with a lot of great concepts from it.
Great. Well, what is this topic that you have about Facebook?
There is a broader topic in here. That is what constitutes a real referral. The question, as it was asked- it was asked by Michelle. Michelle is a BNI Director. The question is pretty straightforward. It also has an addendum. I will read the whole thing.
Michelle says she has been having some interesting discussions with a few Directors and members regarding referral requests for Facebook page “Likes”. A member is standing up in a chapter and requesting a “Like” for their Facebook page and saying it would be a referral.
“So if I stand up as a member and give my weekly presentation and say my referral request today is that you ‘Like’ my company’s Facebook page, can my fellow members that go to Facebook, ‘Like’ my business, and submit a referral?”
That is the question. I am going to give you the pros and cons to this answer. Many of these were suggested by Michelle and I am going to give you some of those.
Let’s first start with talking about the definition of a referral. A referral is the opportunity to do business with someone in the market to buy your product or service. I will repeat that. A referral is the opportunity to work with someone, to do business with someone who is in the market to buy your product or service.
Here is the caveat that many people have heard me talk about that makes this topic come up. That is you, as an individual member, may redefine that as it applies to you only. So, Priscilla, I can’t redefine that as it applies to you, but I can redefine that as it applies to me.
I will tell you where this stems from. This stems from chapters- and I did this myself when I was a business consultant and I was a member of BNI. I took a referral for a potential speaking engagement as a referral. I said, “Look, if you could refer me to an organization that would like to bring me in” – and at the time, I did free talks to service clubs. “If you give me a referral to a service club to go speak, I will count that as a bonafide referral.”
Why? Because at the speaking engagements, I got a ton of business as a result of doing these free speaking engagements.
So the short answer of this is you can redefine it as it applies to yourself. But let’s talk about whether it is a good idea or not. We will begin with some of the reasons why it might be a good idea. The first is that the member’s redefining the definition of a referral for themselves only. They can never apply it to someone else. That sometimes gets a little tricky, but that is one.
Next is referrals really are in the eye of the beholder. You know, some professions will ask for a referral- like, for me, a non-paid speaking engagement back then was great.
Facebook pages need a specific number of “Likes” to get the analytics for postings, and sometimes people judge a Facebook page, a business page, by the number of “Likes” they have. For example, Michelle said that if you are looking for an auto detailing company in the area and it has 10 “Likes”, if there is another one with 900 “Likes” in the area, you might go with the one with 900 “Likes”. Frankly, I try to pick the one that somebody I know personally refers them, but I get it why the likes are important. I really do get it.
So those are some reasons why you might say yes. Let me give you the reasons for no and then I will give you my opinion. This was an “Ask Ivan” question, so I am going to give you my opinion.
The reasons for no is, is it really an opportunity to do business? I think it is clear. No, it is not, but there is that caveat that you can redefine that for yourself.
How would the VP do the referral reality check? That would be tough.
And the “Like” isn’t going to generate any thank you for closed busness. That is true.
Here is my opinion on this. My recommendation on this is two fold. First and foremost, if this is really an issue in your chapter, the membership committee should get engaged with it and have a discussion about whether this is a legitimate referral or not. Get the membership committee involved. My personal recommendation is no, this is not a referral.
It is an endorsement, in the same way that I for many years have said if you do business with somebody, ask them to write up a letter, add their name to it, or edit it. You know, ask them if they will write it up themselves. That is even better, but busy people sometimes don’t have time to write it up.
I have asked people, “What did you like most about working with me?” They gave me three or four phrases. Then I wrote up something with those three or four phrases and gave it to them.
To me, that is an endorsement. That is a thank you. I don’t think it’s a legitimate referral, but I leave that up to the individual member and the chapter membership committee. My recommendation is don’t use it for that. It, I think, devalues what a referral is.
The speaking engagement led to bona fide thank you for closed business that ended up being trackable. I could track how many referrals I got for a free speaking engagement and how many clients I got. I always came back and thanked the member that gave me that free referral, which was my marketing technique for generating business, and how much business I generated from it.
You can’t generate that from this. So my advice to all members is make a “Like” an endorsement and a thank you, not a referral.
Your thoughts, Priscilla?
I think it’s more of a branding kind of activity. You are helping that person in terms of how the public sees them. It is not going to lead directly to a financial gain, so I think you’re right. It’s not really a referral. It’s just an endoresement.
I think it is, and I think as BNI members, we should support each other. This is an easy, easy, easy thing to do. I have seen chapters where they have had a “Like” month where they ask everybody this month. “Here is a list of all of our websites and this month, a little at a time- you don’t have to do it all at once- can you go ‘Like’ everybody’s page?”
I have seen that. What a great team building thing where you get everybody to support one another and help one another. You know, I saw one chapter that said when someone has done everyone, drop an email to the vice president so the vice president can say, “So-and-so and so-and-so have ‘Liked’ all of your pages. Let’s give them a big round of applause.” And you recognize people who have completed the process.
It is a real team building exercise more than a referral. That would be my advice, Michelle. I hope that answers your question.
Perfect. I think that is great. Thank you so much, Dr. Misner. Well, 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 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.