Today’s question comes from Johann, a self-professed networking addict:
Can a person network too much within the BNI framework?
The short answer to this question is yes. But it depends on whether you are networking wide or networking deep. It’s possible to network too widely and not deeply enough. A story about someone known as “The Queen of Networking” illustrates this.
People called this woman “The Queen of Networking” because they saw her at every event and she always talked to every single person there. When she met Dr. Misner at one of these events, she told him that she went to 8-10 networking events every week but wasn’t getting any business.
The problem was that she was focusing too hard on the Visibility part of the VCP process, and spreading herself too thin. What she needed to do establish Credibility by making deeper connections with people she had already met. Only then would she be able to get to Profitability.
If you are networking too widely, do more one-to-ones and GAINS Exchange. But even then, you want to pace yourself. If you’re spending more than 8 hours a week on networking, you might be at risk of networking burnout.
Brought to you by Networking Now.
Complete Transcript of Episode 468 –
This is part of our Ask Ivan series. If you have a question for Ivan, email him at this address: [email protected]
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?
Wow, I am actually home this week. I have been traveling a lot and I am back in Austin, TX, doing this interview overlooking Lake Austin and working from home this week.
That sounds beautiful. So can you network too much?
Yeah, this is a question that comes from Johann. Johann gave me a story. It is a great story. He admits to basically being in a networking 12 step program. He says he is a bit of a networking addict and he has accumulated a ton of CEU points from doing one to ones. His question is can a person network too much within the BNI framework?
Johann, I am going to answer the question both from within and outside BNI. It is important that I go through the whole answer because the short answer is yeah, people can definitely network too much. I know that is counterintuitive to the Founder of the world’s largest networking organization, that you could be networking too much. But that is really the truth.
The key here to me is networking wide or networking deep. Johann, you say that you do a lot of one to ones. To me, that is networking deep. If your personal network is a mile wide and only an inch deep, it will never be a powerful personal network. So if your networking is really about building strong referral relationships with people, it is a little harder to network too much- but it is absolutely possible to network too much.
I will gave you a case in point. I was traveling through the midwest a few years ago when I kept hearing people talk about a woman who was at this event. They called her the Queen of Networking. She was not a BNI member. This was a big event. They called her the Queen of Networking. By the way, this is not Hazel Walker. This is a little shout out to Hazel who calls herself the Queen of Networking. This is not Hazel. Hazel is my co-author in Business Networking and Sex book, the gender book on networking.
Anyway, I kept hearing about this woman that they called the Queen of Networking. Folks who knew her said she was at every single event and that she knew every person in the room. She was the best networker that they knew.
It happened that she ended up at that event that night, surprise, surprise. We met. We talked. But a little while later, she pulled me aside and she seemed a little anxious and a little bit upset. I wondered why is the Queen of Networking so distraught?
She said, “Ivan, you know, I am really glad I met you. I know everyone keeps calling me the Queen of Networking, but I am not getting any business. What am I doing wrong?”
I was really shocked to hear her say that. But I asked her how many events does she attend each week, networking events? She told me she went to between 8-10 networking events per week.
Wow. That is a lot.
Yeah. I was really shocked by that. I told her that was the problem, that she was spreading herself too thin. I talked to her about the VCP process.
If you have never heard me talk about the VCP process, and you are listening to this podcast, do a search on VCP and listen to a couple of the podcasts about the process that you have to go through to build a powerful personal netorking. First you have to be visible. Then you have to establish credibility. And then and only then can you move to profitability. So go listen to those podcasts.
I told her she was so focused so incredibly heavily on the visibility piece of VCP that she lost sight of the credibility piece. I told her to scale back on her efforts and work on deepening a few crucial relationships at a time and add to them over time and establish credibility in the community- because like I said earlier, if your network is a mile wide and an each deep, you will never have a powerful personal network.
One of the things that I told her was something that Johann said in his question to me. What I told her was do more one to ones. Focus on the GAINS exchange.
I know we have talked about the GAINS exchange many times on this podcast. Do a search on GAINS. It stands for goals, accomplishments, interests, networks and skills. I told her do a GAINS exchange with people and start to build a relationship with these individuals.
So Johann, yeah, it is possible to network too much, but it is generally that I am talking about more in terms of just going out and generating visibility but not creating credibility. However, it is possible to still network too much even with one to ones. I have known a couple of BNI members that have kind of achieved kind of what I would call networking burnout.
Remember that networking is a marathon, not a stprint. I see people go into it like a sprint. I get it at first because you are excited. Johann, I don’t know how long you have been in BNI but I get it when new people come in and they are excited and they are sprinting. That is great because in the beginning, you need to.
But remember that if you really want to do this well, it is about a long term process. Pace yourself. Set aside a certain amount of time each week to do one to ones. How much time is that? I have talked about this on the podcast before and in the book that I mentioned that I did with Hazel and Frank De Raffele.
We found that the average businessperson spent about six and a half hours per week on the networking efforts. This included one to ones as well as networking meetings. So if your goal is to be average, you want to spend six and a half hours a week. Closer to eight a week is probably a little more effective.
If you are spending more than that, you might be spending a little bit too much. You don’t want to burn yourself out. That includes going to networking BNI meetings, chambers, service clubs, one to ones- you know, all of your networking opportunities that you might have. Include all of that.
Johann, I hope that answers your question. Yes, it is possible. If you are going deep and building credibility with people, and if you are profitability where they are passing you referrals and you are passing them referrals, it is really important that you meet with them periodically because you don’t want those relationships to dissipate.
Nothing hurts a referral relationship more than doing a bad job. The second thing is benign neglect, when you are just neglecting that referral partner and you are not maintaining that relationship.
You know, if you are doing all of those things and you are pacing yourself, then you are doing things right, Johann, or anybody else who is listening to this podcast. But it is possible to burn yourself. out. Don’t be a victim of networking burnout. Pace Yourself. It is a marathon.
Your thoughts, Priscilla?
Well, I just have one thought. And tell me what you think of this. I decided to have an event here at the studio and invite the whole chapter to kind of have more people visit the studio who might not have been her before. I don’t know if you consider that a good idea or not, but it seemed like a shortcut to me.
That is an outstanding idea. They can meet the person who you never hear his voice. They can meet James. James, if there is a microphone, you should say hi.
He is not near a microphone.
James is the guy who makes all the magic happen. Any blips that I do or give on air, he is able to clean it all up.
I think it is a great idea, Priscilla, and here is why: particularly in your business, in some businesses more than others, having people come to the office is a great idea because they can actually see a little bit about how it is done.
For chiropractors, it is great. If you have never been to a chiropractic office, to do an event where they can do a tour and see what happens. A studio, what a great idea to bring people there and let them see what it is that you do. Maybe do a short recording of some kind with a few people there just so they can see how it works.
Any kind of business that people are curious about- I think it is a fantastic idea. And I have seen mixers even in banks or in accounting offices where it is just an office. It is still great to have people come to your location and see where you are at and see what you have got going.
I love the idea, Priscilla, and I am glad that you brought it up.
Okay, great. Well, thank you, Ivan. I appreciate all of the feedback.
Don’t forget this is the Ask Ivan series, so if you have a question for me, I will do my best to respond to as many of them as possible. The email address is [email protected] Thank you, Priscilla.
Okay, perfect. That’s it for this week. I want to thank you so much, Ivan. 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.