I was recently with a new member of BNI and he was absolutely astounded that he had managed to get his ideal customer in his first six months BNI.
Several months earlier he had been with me at the member success program where I had told all of the attendees that they should expect it will take months for them to get reasonable referrals – BNI is a slow burn. What this member had done was get very specific about who he wanted to do business with, the problems he was able to solve for these people, how members could introduce him and planned out his weekly referral requests accordingly. He didn’t want to leave anything to chance and wanted his fellow chapter mates to know exactly how they could help him and what he was able to do for their network.
When I ask members who leave BNI why they have left, more often than not they tell me that they just simply weren’t getting the kind of referrals that they wanted. This always amazes me because I know that members get exactly the kind referrals they ask for – good, bad or indifferent, if you are getting crap from BNI, you can lay the blame on your own shoulders – harsh I know, but it’s true.
Have you ever been at the chapter meeting and sat through 20, 30 or 40 referral requests where each member asked for a referral to ‘anybody’, who needs a …..? Of course being this vague with your referral request means that you’re never going to get the kind of referral you really want – I don’t know about you, but whenever I get to meet this ‘anybody’ person, I’m going to be able to give them an avalanche of referrals!
I teach all the time the importance of being specific in your referral requests, but frequently I hear vagueness and it really concerns me that members don’t put much effort into getting the kind of referrals they want.
Everyone’s heard the old adage ‘be careful what you wish’ for the same thing can be said about BNI. When I was a new member, I remember one of my chapter mates asking for a specific person in a company as an ideal referral – he backed it up with a story about how he could solve a particular problem that person was most likely facing and how we as members could make the introduction. Not only did he get an introduction to that person, but he also got an introduction to several people who did similar things at different businesses. It was very obvious to me as a new member, that being specific led to great referral opportunities and I soon followed suit.
I became so good at this that it generated me a very healthy bottom line to my business and I know members all through BNI who have changed their lives by being specific about who they wanted to do business with.
What I encourage you to do right now is write out ten different problems your business solves. Work out who the ideal customer for each of those problems are, do a bit of google research and find the decision maker at the business you want to get introduced to and plan out the stories that will illustrate how you will help them. Be specific and be clear and stick to your plan. For help on breaking down your business to the smallest aspect of your business, check out this podcast from BNI founder, Dr Ivan Misner.
So in BNI, be careful what you ask for, you might just get it!