We have two similar Ask Ivan questions today. Diana asks “What’s the best way to grow and optimize my network, and how many networks are too many?” Justyna asks “How much time does it take to create strong visibility and credibility in the BNI organization, and how do you go about doing that?”
How Many Networks?
Dr. Misner advises belonging to one of each of these four kinds of networks, rather than multiples of any one of them. Go deep and build relationships in each of them.
- Casual contact networks (like chambers of commerce)
- Strong contact networks (like BNI)
- Community organizations (service clubs like Rotary or Kiwanis)
- Knowledge networks (professional organizations)
How Long Does It Take?
It doesn’t matter what business you’re in, it takes a certain amount of time before people have confidence in your business. To be above average, you want to spend about 8 hours a week on networking.
Expect it to take at least 6 months to establish confidence–and also expect the number of referrals you get to increase every year if you invest time in networking and 1-2-1s.
Brought to you by the Networking for Success Channel on YouTube.
Complete Transcript of Episode 528 –
This is part of the Ask Ivan series. If you have a question for Ivan, we have created a new link on the podcast web page.
Hello everybody and welcome back to the Official BNI Podcast, brought to you by the Networking for Success Channel on YouTube, which features Dr. Ivan Miser and many other networking experts. 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 my way to Miami for a couple of things. We have a couple of regions that have done a membership drive. They have a BNI event on a cruise, so I am headed to a cruise out of Miami and then I am going to stick around for a day and do a BNI event out of Miami.
That all sounds really fun.
Yeah. It is a great way to meet members. Love it. It is a fun part of my job.
What is this topic that you have brought up here?
This is an Ask Ivan podcast and we have two questions that are really somewhat similar and I thought I would talk about them. The first question is from Diana. Diana asks, “What is the best way to grow and optimize my network, and how many networks are too many networks?” Great question, Dianna.
Justyna – I hope I am pronouncing that right – asks, “How much time does it take on average to create strong visibility and credibility in the BNI organization, and how do I go about doing that?”
So I have kind of narrowed that to how many groups and how much time? [These] are basically the questions that I am going to address.
First of all, let’s deal with Dianna’s topics. How many networks are too many networks. I recommend you go to a couple of different books, one of these two. Either Networking Like a Pro or The World’s Best Known Marketing Secret. You will see in both if them that I talk about the different streams of a netwtork.
There are four of five streams. Let me mention four of them today: casual contact networks, strong contact networks, community organizations and knowledge networks. I have talked about them on podcasts before. A casual contact network is a group like a chamber. A strong contact network is a group like BNI. A community organization is a group like a service club like Rotary, Lions, Kawana. Knowledge networks are professional associations.
So my advice, Dianna, is to belong to one of each of them. Go join your local Chamber of Commerce. I really think the chambers have a lot to offer, and chambers tend to be underutilized. Obviously, I am a fan of BNI. Go join a BNI group if you haven’t already. Be involved in a local service club or community organization like a Rotary, Lions, Kawanas. I think they are fantastic. They give back to the community and you get to rub elbows with some of the movers and shakers. And I think it is important to belong to a knowledge network, some kind of network that may be professionally related. It might be an association related to your profession. It might be a general organization for learning and training and knowledge.
So I would recommend the idea that all members look at participating. In roughly four different kinds of networks. Now, I don’t recommend that you join two or three or four ones of each of those. Maybe two chambers, but then it is not just how wide is your network but how deep is your network?
So if you are in a chamber, go deep in that chamber. Volunteer for some things. Become active. Get to know people. I have talked about this in previous podcasts. If your network is a mile wide and an inch deep, it is not going to be very successful. I would be active in that one chamber and go deep.
I would be active in that one BNI group. By the way, it is the reason that many, many years ago, our Board of Advisors made of BNI members said you can only – there is a policy in BNI created by the members. You can only be in one chapter. You can’t be in two. The reason for that is a couple of reasons, really. One is that you have a loyalty to the members that you are involved with in your chapter. The other is we don’t want you diffusing your focus all over the place. So be in one BNI and certainly one group like BNI.
Be in a casual contact. Be in a service club. Be in a knowledge network. If you are in those four and do deep dives, then I think you are optimizing your networking activity. If you are going to be in two or three of each of those, I think it is too much.
By the way, I have met people like that. I don’t know if I have ever told this story, Priscilla. I met this woman heard and years ago. Everyone called her the networking queen. She was like the community expert. She was a member of BNI but she knew more people than anyone. She was the queen of networking.
I was at this event and she pulled me aside and she said, “I have to tell you a secret. I am not getting any business. Everyone calls me the networking queen but I don’t get any business from my network.”
What? “Okay. I am surprised. So let’s start with the basics. How many networking meetings do you go to every week?”
She gave me some crazy number. It was huge. Six or maybe eight meetings a week? Every week. Start adding that up and it is dozens of meetings a month, different groups, and she was a member of a whole bunch of different groups. I said, “Whoa, whoa. We don’t even need to go any further. I can tell you right now what one of your problems is.”
I think that is really where I started thinking about the idea of a mile wide and an inch deep. If your network is a mile wide and an inch deep, you are not going deep. You have to build relationships with people. People give business to people they know, like and trust, and you have to really build that trust. You have to teach them how to refer you. Everyone thinks you are the networking queen, but they don’t realize that you are not going deep in building those relationships.”
She got it and she changed her behavior, she cut back her networks and increased her business.
Hey, I have kind of a controversial question.
Do you think you can be in a group too long?
No. I don’t. I really don’t. I think that the grass is never greener on the other side. The grass is greener where you water it. So it is all about building those ongoing long term relationships. To this day, I have a member who is – I call her a founding member, she joined a few months after the chapter started. A founding member of the founding chapter of BNI. 32 years ago.
She had a couple of members in her group that had been in that chapter for 30 years. They left that chapter whey they retired. I have another member who is a founding member of a chapter who is a member of another chapter but still worked for 32 years.
But no, I think it’s important. It is about reinventing yourself and reinvigorating the chapter, reinventing yourself and continuing to educate people. I think it is possible to become complacent if you are in one place too long, but that is the fault of the person who is there that long. So it’s really about reenergizing yourself in your position.
You know, if that argument holds true in everything, I should quit BNI. Me. Personally, I have been in for 32 years.
I am not saying quitting BNI but I have had members of our group go to other groups and kind of meet another whole new set of people and I wonder if that is sometimes an advantage.
Well, there are a lot of [places] you can meet with people. One of the places you can meet with people- and this is one of the reasons why I say diversify your networks and go join a casual contact network and a service network or Rotary.
What happens is people say they are going to have it both ways. They are going to leave this group and go to that group and get the referrals from the previous group and they are going to get the referrals from that group. That is really short term thinking because what happens is as soon as they replace you in the chapter you were in, you are going to lose people’s business, if not overnight, gradually.
That is short term thinking. I have been doing this for 32 years, I see it all the time, so if you are looking for new contacts, that is when you go to the chambers and the knowledge network. You need one place where you are constantly building those relationships. I think it is a mistake to leave a chapter unless there are other serious, serious issues. Generally speaking, it is better to stay.
Okay. Let me answer the second question from Justyna. That is how much time does it take on average to create visibility and credibility? Two things that I would recommend, Justyna, that you take a look at. One, you can find this in the Member Success Program training, the Time Confidence Curve. You can also find it the book Networking Like a Pro.
By the way, for Deanna, both of those books will help you with the various streams of a network. Networking Like a Pro and World’s Best Known Marketing Secret.
Time confidence curve- it doesn’t matter what business you are in, it takes a certain amount of time for people to have confidence in your ability to provide a quality product or service. That time really varies based on profession. So a florist might have a short time confidence curve, but a financial planner has a long time confidence curve. And that long time confidence curve could be a couple of years.
So I can’t answer the question technically, but I would say a minimum of six months, Justyna. At least six months. The best way to expedite that time confidence curve is through things like 1-2-1s. Do a search on the podcast for 1-2-1s. The GAINS exchange- you will see some ideas on how to do it.
And I am going to include a photograph on this podcast. I am going to include a photograph from Antonioni Oliviera. Antonio sends me a photograph every year. Starting in 2012, he sent me a photograph with the number of referrals he got every year. He has five years of referrals. You are going to love this photograph. Look at it.
I remember when he first sent it to me. The difference between 2012 and 2013 was amazing. I thought, Wow. That’s fantastic. That’s like twice as many referrals. Then in 2014, he sent me his next one. Wow. That is like twice as many referrals as 2013. Then he sent me another photo. It was like twice as much as 2014. Then in. 2016, he sent me another one. It was not quite twice as much as 2015.
So you look at this photo that is in this podcast and you see how every year the number of referrals- and I have to thank Antonio again for sending me this every year- I look forward to seeing one again at the end of this year.
It takes time before people build confidence. And so, it takes a year or more because the more people get to really know you and trust you, the more likely – and the more you can teach them how to refer you – the more likely you are to get business. You can expedite that through the VCP process.
I will give you one other tidbit based on my book, Business Networking and Sex: Not What You Think. The difference between men and women and how you network. We surveyed 12,000 people and we found that the optimum amount of time to spend networking a week is around eight hours a week. The average was six and a half. If you don’t want to be average, you want to spend more. We recommend around eight hours a week in your. Networking. That could be going to BNI meetings, going to chamber meetings, going to your service club meetings, doing 1-2-1s with other people. About eight hours a week is the amount of time that you will want to spend.
I hope that answers the two questions on how many networks to belong to and how much time on average that it takes. That is all I’ve got for today, and thanks for that add on. I appreciate it, Priscilla.
Oh yeah. Absolutely. Thank you so much. I think that is probably it for this week, Dr. Misner. I would just like to remind the listeners that this podcast has been brought to you by the Networking for Success Channel on YouTube. Thank you so much for listening. This is Priscilla Rice and we look forward to having you join us again next week for another exciting episode of the Official BNI Podcast.