BNI & Referral Marketing

Let's Get Out There & Network!

BNI Forest Lake MN - Visitor's Day - April 7, 2020

If you are looking to grow your business, and have not yet joined a networking group, consider it. It could be the best marketing decision (2nd to building a website) you’ll ever make.

In terms of strategies to implement business growth via the promotion of a new or small business, I am sure by now we’ve all heard and hopefully accepted the basic marketing options of print (business cards, brochures, signs / banners), social media, local & industry specific directory links, ongoing SEO, and of course – what all of this traffic is being driven back to – a website. However, we must not forget to get out from behind our desks or outside jobs and actually talk to other human beings. We must not forget to network. This is the essence of #ReferralMarketing.

Such awesome network groups include local groups, a local chamber of commerce, or even better – a local BNI group.
#BNI (Business Networking International) is the famous networking group known for the principle of #GiversGain. The idea is the more we give to others in terms of support, referrals, etc., without the expectation of anything in return, the more we will earn trust and respect and get in return anyway. And for me anyway, a BNI group was that perfect opportunity to #EarnIt.

#WhyBNI - I am not poopooing Chamber networking groups whatsoever, and a lot of what is learned by going through the BNI process can be brought to Chamber events etc., but what I really love about BNI is not only the weekly structured networking with those who have already earned the trust and respect of the rest of the group but the thought process that is taught at BNI – to listen for an opportunity and be willing to fix it, even if it means business for someone else and not oneself. And, the best part – there is only 1 per industry (no competition).

At each
weekly meeting (now available online via Zoom) which can be annoying in terms of demands but really good to stay top of mind, each person is given an opportunity to give their 60 second pitch stating what they do, and the referral they are looking for this week. We are also encouraged to have what we call 1-2-1’s with each BNI member, a meeting outside of the BNI meetings to get to know each other a little better. This is used to further build trust and meaningful business relationships and even life-long friendships. When that trust and respect is earned, business is passed. Register here for a visit and link to the zoom meeting.

Did I mention our group in Forest Lake MN is having a “Potential Long Term Relationship Day” day April 7th? I actually joined after being invited to a visitor’s day. Anyway, I digress… I also really appreciate a morning meeting. Even though it is difficult to get up that early, having a morning appointment also let you “get it out of the way” so that when you come back to work, the rest of the day can be focused without interruption. But it is up to you to find a group that works with your schedule.

The second thing I love about BNI is the education. There is tons and tons of educational resources (in chapter and online) to sharpen skills in terms of an elevator pitch, weekly presentation, and overall networking acumen. Resources include #MemberSuccessProgram, #BNIU, #PodCasts, #ACTWorkshops and more. The really good chapters also have a coordinator to help each member find those opportunities in the form of a potential referral partner – a business who goes after the same customer but with the same product or service. For a web designer, that referral partner would be those in the marketing industry – print, digital, SEO, social media etc. We are also taught to use our current contact sphere to increase referrals.

I cannot speak for others experience at BNI but mine personally has been great. Not only am I given the opportunity to earn the trust and respect of the group, but I can go in with the faith that the rest of the group has already earned that trust and respect. With that being said, I have also not forgotten to market a business outside of networking. Both must exist for a well-rounded marketing strategy.

The 3 biggest keys to be a member of a BNI group: 1 – show up. Be present and be engaged with the group to earn that trust, respect, and stay top of mind. 2 – Give qualified referrals. This is tough sometimes but stay with it. Listen for opportunities of something to fix and now you have an opportunity to fix it by way if giving the name of someone you trust to fulfill that need. 3 – Have outside 1-2-1’s with the members of your group so that next time they hear of an opportunity to give the name of someone who does what you do, they will give your name instead of someone else’s.

If you are anywhere near the Forest Lake MN area, feel free to come by my group. We are having a visitor’s day April 7. Come on by. We look forward to meeting you and introducing you around.

Rob Shurtleff
Bob The Website Builder

Trusted Local (North & East of St Paul MN) Referral Partners (Marketing & Small Business Resources): Print Marketing, Logos or here, Apparel or here, Swag, Business Coach, Computer Support or here or here,
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