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Written by Jeff Wilson
1. Develop a conversation; begin a relationship before introducing your “elevator speech.” A networking function is an ideal way to have people get to know you. But in business as well as in personal dealings, it is best to create a relaxed and personal environment in which to introduce your services. Stay focused on what your goals are in attending the function, and gear your conversations to support those goals.
2. Seek out valuable contacts. Don’t wait for people to come to you. If there is someone in the group with whom you want to become acquainted, seek them out. Let them know that you are interested in their business, perhaps as a vendor or as a strategic alliance. Share with them what you may have in common. Develop them as a referral source. Or if they seem like a likely potential client, find out by asking open ended questions and listening to them closely.
3. Debrief. Take quick notes at the networking event to remind yourself to do something you promised or as a means to remember a specific conversation with someone. Jot down your observations for follow up later. You may not remember those important things if you don’t jot them down.
4. Follow-up. The real value of the networking event is found as much in the follow-up as in the participation. Be sure to keep any promises you may have made to individuals at the event. Perhaps you promised to e-mail an article of interest or resource to someone. You may have invited someone to join you for a one-on-one conversation about your business or an opportunity for collaboration. Or through your listening and questioning you may have determined good candidates for your services. Give them a call, or write them a note or send them an e-mail with something of value as an attachment along with a specific, targeted collateral piece.
|Written by alex bungener|
During a 1 to 1 I’m pretty sure everybody knows and asks these type questions:
But do you ask these questions:
All of the questions help you learn more about your sales partner/BNI member but the later set of questions help you to dig 3 levels or so deeper into their psyche and also gives you the ammo you need to be a better sales partner for him or her. And that’s what Team advantage is about, creating an awesome sales team to help everyone reach their sales goals.
When someone asks you what you do, what are the first words out of your mouth?
- When someone asks you what you do, make sure you’re ready with a response that is succinct but memorable. The attention span of the average adult is only 20 seconds; a long, drawn-out answer to the question isn’t going to work.
- Focus on creating a unique selling proposition (USP)–a mini commercial that you can readily use while networking. I think of this as a personal answer to the age-old “Whattaya do?” question, which we’ve all been asked about a million and a half times.
- NOT: “I’m a consultant.”
- INSTEAD – “I work with small to medium-size businesses to help them attract more clients than they could possibly handle.”
- NOT: “I’m a Travel Agent”
- INSTEAD – “I help people create memories that will last a lifetime”
- FOR MYSELF: NOT: I AM A FINANCIAL ADVISOR INSTEAD: I help people understand their goals and create a financial roadmap to help them reach their retirement destination:.
- Whichever 12 or 20 words you choose, make sure your answer is quick and informative without sounding rehearsed or contrived.
- So, make it your goal this week to come with a USP a Unique Selling Proposition. Use it for us next week in your infomercial.
Being prepared in this way will also make you more comfortable with introducing yourself to new people because you’ll have the confidence of knowing exactly what to say.
|Written by Guru Amrit Khalsa|
|How many people came here this morning with the intention or at least the hope of selling something?
How many people came here this morning to buy something?
This is known as the networking disconnect. The purpose of networking is not to sell something. It is to build relationships. We shouldn’t confuse direct sales with the time and effort it takes to educate referral partners. Yes, but somebody might say, “Yea, but last week I did make a sale, right at the meeting”. If that happened, it was an accident. As the saying goes, even a blind squirrel finds a nut now and then.
The objective of meeting here every week, and especially during one-to-ones in between meetings, is to form trusting relationships with other people so they feel enthusiastic about referring you. Remember that the vast majority of income generated by our chapter does not come from doing business with each other. It comes through doing business with people we refer to each other.
So how does it work? Think of the letters VCP. V stands for visibility. People have to know your name and what you do. That is being visible. And that is where you are when you first join a BNI chapter.
Then comes C, for credibility. Credibility is formed when people feel that you are a good person, they like you, they feel you are good at what you do, and, most important, they feel you have the ability to make their referrals really happy with your product or service. Credibility is the time consuming stage. It takes active participation in the weekly meetings and lots of one-to-ones. How much time? At the MSP training I went to when I started BNI the trainer threw out the number 9 months before this starts to happen. I asked why. He said he didn’t know, it just seems to happen like that.
The last letter is P, for profitability. You have established your visibility. People know who you are and what you do. You have established credibility. They know you are good at what you do. Now they start to refer you to their friends and business contacts. That results in new business for you and, of course, more profit. The funny thing here is that profit is kind of a by-product of the first two stages. If visibility and credibility are well established, the referrals will just start to come.
So now it becomes pretty clear the difference between selling and networking. Selling is effort to make a sale. Networking is effort in forming relationships with the assumption that referrals will follow. It is important to understand this difference, especially for new members who may want to see immediate results to their bottom line. Profitability will come eventually, but it takes time and effort to create the relationships that will make that happen.
Who is your best sales team?
There are three categories of your best sales team: members, your power team, and guests.
- One on ones are critical to helping members answer the question, ‘How can I help you?“, for each other. Have we conducted a one on one with every member? If so, have we started a new round of meetings?
- Are we informing the members on how to sell your services or product in the meeting?
- Before the meeting?
- With our sales manager minute? Are we wasting our time and the chapters time by coming unprepared for your minute? Fifteen minutes the night before can make a world of difference. Are we utilizing all the elements of your minute? (opening, message, story, asking for a referral, closing, memory hook, staying within time, making it interesting)
- With our 10 minutes showcase?
- After the meeting?
- Are we developing the habit of recognizing referable moments during the week?
- Power Team
- Our power team are members in our chapter who have complimentary services or products.
- E.g. I created a rack card listing residential services that my power team can leave in homes. These services included snowplowing/landscaping, window cleaning, remodeling, cleaning, carpet cleaning, disaster clean up, and plumbing.
- Have we developed a power team? Met recently? Brainstormed together? Taken action?
- Guests are potential chapter and power team members. Are we looking expand our sales team through inviting guests?
- Guests can be sold on our services or products during our minute or showcase.
- Guests can be convinced to refer us before and after the meeting through friendliness, interest, curiosity, and inclusion. Don’t under estimate the potential of a first impression with a guest.
Who is your best sales team?
Let’s utilize our best sales team!
I think we all know that the way to more referrals is building more trust with the members of your chapter. Sometimes it is difficult to know exactly how to do that. I am busy and my time is valuable so whatever I do I need to make it count. Here are a few things that may help.
1) Silence your phone during the meeting. Taking phone calls during the meeting is disruptive, although it is a great way to draw attention to yourself; it may not be the attention you really want. Think about how you feel when you are doing your infomercial and someone else’s phone goes off, not good I suspect.
2) Don’t check emails or text during the meeting. Again there is probably nothing earth shattering that cannot wait until after the meeting. I would really like for you to hear my infomercial or my Keynote Presentation, both of which I spent time preparing, I think you would like that of me.
3) Be prepared for your infomercial. I find it hard to believe that someone cannot find 10 minutes in an entire week to prepare for their next meeting. I understand that you are good at “shooting from the hip” with your infomercial and no one will know. But it is clear to most of the chapter that you did not take any time in preparing for the meeting especially when you ramble on and take more than the allotted time. Preparation just shows the group you think enough of them to prepare for them.
4) Taking notes during the meeting. Clearly if you take notes of what the other members are asking for, then you are interested in what they want. Don’t sit and talk to the person next to you, pay attention to the one speaking, would you not want the same respect when it is your turn?
5) Give something to the chapter. The “I Have” portion of the meeting is when we let the chapter know what we are giving back to the group. It is not a time to extend that well prepared infomercial you gave earlier. It is the time you show the chapter that you are involved and trying to help others. Everyone has a week where they don’t have a referral for someone. Not everyone will be able to bring a visitor every week, but having a 1to1 with a member during the week is not too hard to do, it just takes a little advanced planning. If all else fails have a PREPARED testimony for ONE of the members. This will make sure you have something to give back at the meeting.
What we do during our weekly BNI meeting shows the other members how we feel about them. If they don’t know you well yet, then this is the only thing they see of you. If you want people to be professional and give you respect, then show them the same. Nothing inspires trust more.
Remember the saying: “Givers Gain”.
One of the challenges we all face in a busy life is time. There never seems to be enough of it.
Yet have you noticed how people will always find time for the things they want to do and that are important to them?
So lets see how much time you have managed to find for your team. Here is a short quiz.
Visualize in your mind, three members of your chapter. Think of one who you know well and two who you don’t. The other two may well be new members or members with whom you have not yet done a one to one meeting.
Have you got them in mind?
Now answer YES or NO to the following questions…
- Do you know what their specific business goals are for the next 12 months?
- Do you know whether their parents are still alive?
- Do you know how many siblings they have?
- Do you know exactly how long they have been in business?
- Can you remember the referral they said they were looking for LAST week?
If you answer NO to any of those questions then maybe you need to gain more knowledge about that member?
And if anyone said NO about any question in relation to you then maybe you need to sharpen up your infomercial and one to one schedule.
You started a business – Now What?
So you made a bold move to go out there and face the business world alone. What options do you have? What are your needs? What resources do you have available to you? Just exactly how are you going to sell yourself and get people interested in what you do?
That first step is a big one, and unless you have limitless resources to advertise and promote your business, you are going to need help. If you see a business coach, they will give you some great advice about setting yourself up, but they will also most likely recommend that you join networking groups to be recognized and get referrals.
This is where BNI can really help. Using a very structured, tried and tested approach, BNI gives you the tools to get referrals to grow your business.
So what do we get from BNI?
- A group of professionals, who know you, and will refer you at every available opportunity
- Trusted professionals you can refer to any of your clients – to make you look good
- Improved confidence in speaking in front of a group
- Clarity around describing your business – a tagline and elevator speech.
- Injection of positivity each week
- Improved networking skills.
- A support team
Your support team is…
- Other chapter members
- Your leadership team
- Your Ambassador—if there is one for your chapter
- Your Assistant/Area/Executive/National Directors
- BNI Headquarters itself
So, how often have you asked them for help?
Do you know what they offer?
What do you know about them? Have you asked for a mentor session lately?
BNI and the team have extensive experience and substantial expertise in word-of-mouth marketing.
BNI worldwide has over 20 years experience at the art of word-of-mouth marketing—more than any other business organization.
So how much would you pay for an experienced marketing consultant? And how much are you making use of your support team
Inviting Visitors – WIIFM?
Dawn Converse, BNI Director Consultant – Baltimore
You often hear your chapter leaders talking about scheduling a visitor day, stack day or open house. Or perhaps your membership committee lists four or five categories that are currently open in your chapter that they would like to fill. You hear the words, but you may wonder what exactly this information means to you.
We all have a stake in the health and growth of our chapter. Very simply, it directly affects our wealth, which is what most of want to increase by joining BNI in the first place. So, what is in it for you to invite visitors and help grow your chapter?
First, it’s exciting! Have you ever noticed that when there are visitors in the room your members seem to be more animated and friendly? The atmosphere changes because most members want to make the visitor feel welcome and will take the time to introduce themselves and find out a little about the visitor. As you know, in networking it’s important to make a good first impression, so that initial introduction can help the visitor feel comfortable and make you memorable as well.
Second, your visitors will collect the cards of all of the members in your chapter. Even if the visitors decide that membership is not a good fit right then, those visitors will save your cards. The interesting thing is that when they (or someone they know) have a need for your services, they will refer to those cards and call you. They may also rely on you to be a resource to them for other related services as well. The important thing is that they are thinking about you! Statistically speaking, each visitor who comes to your chapter is worth about $1,000 of business to your chapter, so it really is in your best interest to make a good first impression and take the time to get to know your visitors. It is even more important for you to invite visitors because you already have a connection and you can introduce them to your trusted referral partners.
Third, your visitors could become great resources for you if their category is not already represented in your chapter. So speak with your visitors, introduce yourself and your business, and take time to learn about them. You never know where your next referral will come from or when you may require the services of that visitor. So make sure that you maximize your opportunity to connect. I’m sure if you talk with your fellow members you will hear a variety of stories about how connecting with a visitor led to closed business and other great connections. One thing to also consider if you are in a business that is unique and not widely represented in the local BNI chapters is to be a visitor to other chapters yourself. Some of my best referrals/connections have come from chapters other than my own. You just never know . . . .
And fourth, visitors are potential new members and referral partners in your chapter. If you want to grow your chapter, it is best if in addition to making a good first impression and making that visitor feel welcome, you also edify the other members of your chapter so the visitor wants to learn more about all of you and seriously considers joining your team. This is the ultimate goal of inviting visitors.
So, pay close attention when your vice president or membership committee begins talking about inviting guests. If you want more referrals, you need to make more connections and one of the easiest ways to do that is to invite more visitors and be an active participant in the excitement and resulting growth!
That’s what in it for you when you invite visitors!
I also found this about a BNI group in Alberta, that has a role dedicated to chapter growth. May be a good idea for us, we could have a closed meeting to suggest this. Here’s the manual:
Here’s the overview…..
Investment (or please refer to event description below): $25.00
This 2 hour session provides Combined Special Training for BNI Chapter Growth Coordinators, Visitor Hosts and Event Coordinators -
Chapter Growth Coordinators work with the Chapter Leadership Team, the Membership Committee, the Visitor Hosts and the BNI Director in supporting and facilitating Chapter Growth initiatives. The Growth Coordinator’s role is to facilitate the planning process of the chapter growth as well as monitor and coordinator the necessary action steps in order to have consistent and steady growth. Like any other goal, the need to stay focused is a major step in achieving the goal. The Growth Coordinator’s should be recognized at the chapter meetings. These Attendees are asked to bring along their Chapter Growth Coordinator Handbooks.
Visitor Hosts provide the first contact for ‘potential members’ who come to a meeting. They set the atmosphere that welcomes the visitor and makes them feel at ease. Great Visitor Hosts introduce guests to fellow members and invite the visitor to ‘apply for membership’. They follow up within 48 hours and report back to the chapter membership weekly. This special training session will focus on the roles and interactions of the Visitor Hosts and provide attendees with a flow chart of events that will enable them to more easily carry out this critical role in all highly functioning chapters. These Attendees are asked to bring along their Visitor Host Team Manuals.
Event Coordinators, your role is to work with the Chapter Leadership Team and BNI Director in coordinating and implementing chapter member participation in activities such as chapter social events, and chapter Visitor Days and Power Team events. Additionally, the Events Coordinators are key communicators regarding training sessions and supporting cross chapter events. Great Event Coordinators know that the group that plays together stays together. You truly enjoy facilitating opportunities for chapter members to get to know one another in non-traditional way.
Depending on the size of the BNI group, your business will have the opportunity to be in the spotlight during the weekly meeting. This Keynote Speech is very important to continued success within the group.
Remember these tips and you will be certain to deliver an effective Keynote Speech to your BNI group.
As you may know, most people tune out commercials but infomercials are designed to grab the attention of the audience. It is important to have an infomercial type of presentation for members, as you need to “sell through the members” not “to the members”.
There are 2 parts to every Keynote Speech.
The first part begins with preparation. Members quickly recognize and tune out a hastily thrown together presentation. Question and answer style Keynote Speeches limit the amount of information you want the members to use. Practice and stay within time limits. To help you prepare, here is a simple formula for structuring an organized Keynote Speech.
- The first 2 minutes tell a little about you and your business. Be sure to brag on accomplishments, awards, what sets you apart from competitors, or even how you crush the competition.
- Divide your remaining time into expanding on your best Sales Manager’s Moments. Depending on the time allowed, you should be able to get in 2 – 4 of the best sources for new business. This is the time for being very specific.
- Be sure to close with your tag line and remind members that you will be taking questions after the meeting.
Note: During the Sales Manager Moment portion of the meeting, be sure to use your time and ask for business. Do not pass or stand up and say, “I have the Keynote Speech”. This is additional time that can be used to prepare members to bring you more business.
The second part of all successful Keynote Speeches involves each member. When listening to the speaker remember to take notes of all the possible referral sources generated from the content of the Keynote Speech. Leads from a Keynote Speech will soon become referrals when members ask, “what can I do to turn this lead into a good referral for you?”