Asking for and Receiving Advice from Your Network

Introduction

One of the greatest things about being part of a referral network is that you can constantly be around people from different backgrounds, experiences, and industries.
Being part of such a vast referral network can really come in handy when you are in dire need of an unbiased advice – communicating with people from your industry only can leave you with an opinion that may be very similar to your own.
Furthermore, asking for an advice or opinion from the people in your network can help you get better acquainted with their businesses’, goals, wants and needs – all of which makes it that much easier to refer them to people in your life.

Things to know about when asking for advice

You might have a dire situation on your hands and might be in desperate need of feedback, but there are some things that you should avoid doing when approaching members of your referral network and asking them for advice.
Consider the following suggestions when asking people in your network for advice:
You should do your very best to avoid sensitive topics. Don’t divulge anything too personal, keep the politically charged topics away from the conversation, and choose your words wisely as to not make anyone uncomfortable.
Try to figure out if the questions you are asking are the right questions, and if the person you are directing your questions to is likely to have a qualified answer. Asking someone questions or for advice on a subject that they know nothing about can put them on the spot and make them uncomfortable.
You’ve asked for an advice and now it’s time to let the person opposite of you do the talking. Be sure not to interrupt them. You’ve asked them for an opinion. Let them give it to you. People won’t appreciate you talking over them, and will be able to tell if you are uninterested in hearing what they have to say.
Finally, always be present in the conversation, while making sure you respond appropriately. Someone is purposefully giving their time to you. Respect the time they are giving you. If you don’t, they will be less likely to give you time in the future.
We’ll have to put this as a side note – don’t try to get free services from someone in your network. If you are having an hour-long conversation with a mortgage broker about refinancing options, asking for a consulting session under the guise of asking for free advice won’t score you any points. Knowing when you are crossing the threshold between advice and free services is crucial for building a strong connection.

Conclusion

You’ve asked for, and received advice from someone in your network – now what?
Keep them updated. Use the conversation you’ve had as an opportunity to talk to them again and thank them for giving their time to you.
This is a great opportunity to keep them informed and get additional opinions or advice.

Get More Referrals by Educating Your Network

Introduction

Within the power of your referral network is the power you need to help you grow your business. Getting better acquainted with each and every member of your network, and educating them on your business and services is imperative to getting more quality referrals.

 

Tips on educating your network

This isn’t as easy as it seems. Many business professionals find it challenging to walk the line between educating their network on their ideal referrals and trying to sell their services.

To ensure you are helping educate your network, consider the following techniques:

Teach your network about your dream referrals. To give out proper information about what your dream referral looks like to your network is to be as specific as possible – as we say in BNI, specific is terrific.

How being specific helps you is that it not only helps your network keep you on top of their mind when they are networking with other people, it also helps them know what your business does, so that they feel comfortable referring you.

To say this simply – the more details you can provide about your business, the easier it will be for your network to refer you.

Share the details, not the high-level view of your business. Never make the mistake of talking about your business as full-service.

Be transparent about your services. Don’t just share the things you are good at, mention the services that aren’t your strongest too. This will help your network navigate, and narrow down the referrals they think are good for you. Receiving a referral for a job you are only partially good at, and completing it, can, essentially, damage your credibility by not delivering on a promise to produce high quality work.

Make success stories a part of your networking meetings – success stories go a long way in helping you grow your business. So, have some material on hand that can adequately show your network the examples of your work. Before and after pictures and testimonials are great techniques to help your network see how good you are at what you do, and can give them specific examples to use when communicating your services to others.

 

Conclusion

The weekly BNI meetings are the opportunity you are looking for to educate your network, and give them the marketing content that they take with them for the week to find you your dream referral.
So, prepare for your meetings, show up on time each week, get to know your fellow Chapter Members well, attend necessary trainings, and participate 100%.

Why Weekly Meetings Promote the Power of Networking

Weekly Meetings Promote Power Of NetworkingSince the underlying BNI philosophy is about connecting with people, networking and giving value in order to gain, BNI constructed a business model where the members who join a chapter meet weekly. This has long been a tradition, and it’s no different at our San Marcos, Texas chapter.

Now, you might be asking yourself how is meeting weekly any different than meeting twice a month, per se. You might wonder how BNI taps into the power of networking by this simple model.

To answer those questions, we’ve compiled a list of 5 reasons why weekly meetings are crucial for BNI’s success, and therefore yours too.

Let’s dive right into it.

  1. Spaced Repetition

Think of weekly meetings as a form of “spaced repetition”. What happens when things get repeated? You form a habit of learning and engagement, which in turn leads to success. Since there is a mountain of research on this concept, look at the 2016 Dartmouth paper published in the Journal of Policy Insights from the Behavioral and Brain Sciences.

  1. The avoidance of “benign neglect.”

Benign neglect is where relationships deteriorate over time.  Even if it is involuntary, it certainly almost always results in failing to build a long-term relationship. Weekly meetings bypass the concept of benign neglect, rendering it powerless.

  1. Practice makes perfect

Excelling at anything means practicing it until it is ingrained in the very essence of your being. Do professional athletes stop practicing when they are at the top of their game? Businessmen and women shouldn’t either. Think of our weekly meetings as the gym. It’s a place you go to every week to learn and improve your networking skills.

  1. The concept of VCP® (Visibility, Credibility, Profitability)

BNI has designed VCP® as a process of relationship building that leads to continuous referrals. So, what happens to this concept when we add the power of weekly meetings to the equation? The concept’s success multiplies and the VCP® stairs become easier to climb.

  1. Weekly Meetings form a strong habit

If you see the same people every week, would you forget them? Weekly meetings keep the members in your BNI charter on top of your mind. You already know that you will see them on your meeting day, which in turn forms the habit of incorporating your presentations and referral activity on a weekly basis. It is consistent and structured. On a side note, don’t underestimate the power of referrals while they are still hot. The longer the wait from meeting to meeting, the more they cool down.

 

Let’s face it, meeting weekly is a commitment. You make a commitment to exercise. You make the commitment to do all the things you continuously do. Why? Because it benefits you in one way or another. How do BNI meetings benefit you? Think of it like the CrossFit of networking. Consider your weekly BNI meetings to be your networking aerobics and make the most of your commitment.

Building Meaningful Relationships Leads to Success in a Referral-based Business

Building Meaningful Business Relationships

You want referrals, and you want them immediately? Doesn’t work that way. You have to build meaningful relationships with your referral partners first. How much time does it take to build your network and how do we speed the process up?

To build a referral-based business is to build a meaningful personal network. If a river is two miles wide and just one inch deep, is there a point in swimming in it? It’s the same with your network. You have to dive deep and build a number of strong relationships in order to get the referrals important enough for your business.

Let’s put this in a simple way – strong referral networks can be compared to building close personal friendships. How long does it take to build a close friendship?

Well, according to research, it takes approximately 50 hours of interaction to nudge a relationship from the status of acquaintance to a “casual friend”. The number goes up to 90 hours to further the relationship to the status of “real friends,” and 200 hours to reach the objective of “close friends.”

This leads us back to the subject of this post – How much time is needed in order to build a meaningful relationship where people trust you enough to give you regular referrals? Well, somewhere between 90 and 200 hours.

To hit the 90-hour mark in participating in BNI San Marcos meetings is to begin getting more referrals. According to a study specifically done for BNI, when members cross the 200-hour mark, they generate an average of over 5 times the number of referrals they’ve given and received than they did in their first year of membership. That’s right, folks – 500% more referrals when they took their time to build meaningful relationships with their network.

Since networking is about farming, rather than hunting, one of the best ways to speed up this process is to do periodic one-on-one’s with your network and take the time to learn how to refer them and teach them how to refer you.

In order to get insight into how successful your efforts are, you can ask yourself the following questions:

1. Am I regularly making stimulating, educational presentations to my fellow networkers about the value I provide to my clients?
2. Am I doing business with others in my network so I can give them dynamic testimonials and steer business to them in hopes they will return the favour?
3. Am I meeting regularly with my networking colleagues to learn about their businesses so I can confidently refer my contacts to them?

We hope we provided some insight into how you can build stronger relationships and all you’ve got to do is follow these tactics and remember it takes time to build a meaningful network.