BNI Education

As the incoming president of Manhattan BNI CLC, I was trying to think of ways to help my chapter and remembered what BNI Assistant Director and former Manhattan BNI CLC president, Lauren Simpson said at a Leadership Training session about LinkedIn and using it as a tool to connect with other professionals.

In the upper right hand corner of a LinkedIn page to the right of the “people” search tool is an Advanced search button that if you click it, it brings you to another page with greater search capabilities. There you can enter key words and further limit your results by a radius of say ten miles from a certain zip code, thus localizing those results.

At one of our Chapter 7 meeting, a member, an image consultant and personal stylist said she was looking for Matchmakers as referrals and possible power partners, (power partners being people who can be an ongoing source of referrals). This prompted me to search for Matchmakers within a ten mile radius of zip code 10022 in Manhattan.

Once the information was entered and the radius filter set, I saw that there were several pages of results, the first results being those people within the first few degrees of my personal LinkedIn network. This can be handy if there is an immediate connection or link between you and your prospective referral. If there is, you can ask your connection for an introduction and go from there. If not, you can try an e-mail or a phone call assuming you have that information available. In my case, out of a list of about 6 potential prospects, none were within the first degree of my LinkedIn network so I came up with this simple e-mail asking not only if my member can contact them, but I also invited the prospect to learn more about BNI and even come to visit the chapter:

Hello (first name):
I found your profile on LinkedIn. I am the president of Manhattan BNI Chapter 7 and one of my members who offers image consulting and personal styling is looking for an introduction to someone in your profession. Perhaps you would be able to help each other. In any event, her name is (full name of member). Please let me know if I can provide (first name of member) your information and have her contact you.
As well, let me know if you would like to learn more about BNI 7 and/or visit as my guest.
Thank you,
Bill Allen

Notice I don’t give out my members’ info but ask if I can have her contact them as this shows their seriousness and willingness to receive the call and it also confirms that this is an actual referral to my member.

Of the e-mails I sent out, three did not respond and the other 3 responded favorably that they would like to be contacted and one of those also checked out our BNI 7 website, found another member she wanted to speak with and then visited the chapter as my guest the following week.

As well, Chapter 7 like many other BNI Chapters, is always looking to grow so I thought why not do a search for professionals that are not currently represented in our group. In this instance you can do a similar search to the one above and use an e-mail or phrase like this when you speak with them:

Hello (first name):
I found your profile on LinkedIn. I am the president/member of Manhattan BNI 7 and we are looking for a (their profession) to refer business to. Please let me know if you would like to learn more about BNI 7 and/or visit as my guest.
I look forward to hearing from you.
Thank you,
Bill Allen

Again, Lauren Simpson was kind enough to suggest the idea behind this simple, but very effective phrasing which she would use at networking events and cocktail parties. And from this technique alone this year I’ve had 5 or 6 visitors to my chapter.

I don’t mention that we meet every Wednesday at 7 a.m. in the morning or give any further details unless they express a real interest in visiting and then if the seem hesitant I say “come for a visit, I can’t guarantee this will be for you but I can say you will like our group and you will have a good time and then you can decide if it’s something you want to do. There’s no obligation to join and it won’t hurt to visit once.” This gives them an out but it also piques their interest that they should at the very least, check out the scene.

This networking technique does take a bit of time to sift through the search results, and in some instances there is limited contact information available, but many LinkedIn profiles do have company or personal website links which will provide the contact info you’ll need. Try it, and feel free to use and personalize the e-mail templates provided. If the prospects don’t respond, move on, if they do, great! But remember, if you don’t ask, the answer will always be no. Keep at it, it will work eventually and the time you invest will benefit your fellow BNI members which in turn will benefit you. For as we all know, Givers Gain!

Best of luck!

We are all in business to make a profit, but business should serve a greater need. Business can be profitable as well as honorable and noble. As business people we can make a difference in communities and individual lives.

BNI Culture vs BNI Strategy

The true foundation for success rests in an organization’s culture. Culture eats strategy for breakfast. BNI’s core values help to establish its culture. It’s never too late to be thinking about your core values. Here are BNI’s 7 core values and why they are so important to us here at BNI:

1. Givers Gain
This is the core philosophy of BNI. It’s incredible that so many people in our organization understand and practice this value. The idea of ‘what goes around comes around’ is intuitive and a key part of successful networking. Remember – it’s a standard to apply to yourself, rather than a sword by which to cut others.

2. Building Relationships
This was the foundation of BNI when it was first set up and is what we are all about today. Networking is about building positive, strong relationships.

3. Lifelong Learning
The more we see members, leadership teams and director consultants immersed in a culture of learning, the more successful our chapters are. More education and learning leads to greater engagement and more successful networking.

4. Traditions & Innovation
This value may at first seem counter intuitive but as the Apple example proves, it is the secret to success for contemporary businesses. Our traditions lay the foundation to who we are by showing where we came from. However, we must always be leading with innovation to stay current. This means that new advancements in technology and thinking must be absorbed into our process. Don’t lose touch with new changes in business and don’t be afraid to try new things at BNI.

5. A Positive & Supportive Attitude
Survey after survey has shown that this is the top criteria that people look for in someone to network with. Life is too short to surround yourself with negative, unhappy people. Instead, surround yourself with people who want you to succeed; positive people who will uplift you.

6. Recognition
Recognition is something that we really believe in at BNI. We want to recognise people who’ve done a good job and celebrate their achievements. This starts at the chapter level. If you see something that deserves recognition, let others know including BNI Support so that they can help spread the word!

7. Accountability
This is such an important value in the contemporary business world. A networking group without accountability is a coffee club. It’s like playing a game of football with no rules. Accountability is a key value at every level of the BNI organization.

Givers Gain: The Core Principal of BNI Chapters World Wide

BNI serves a greater good by helping businesses around the world to create a culture of collaboration. Dr. Misner’s Audacious Goal for BNI is to change the way the world does business by incorporating these core values. Think about these seven core values and see how they relate to your experiences at BNI. If you think there are some areas in which your chapter can improve – discuss these. By practicing these core values our organization will be stronger and more successful.

Pillars of BNI that support the 7 Core Values

  • Multiple visitors or guests at each meeting. Not all of them have to qualify to join: Bring people who can do business with members.
  • A well-run professional meeting. Pay special attention to the hidden elements.
  • Follow-up post meeting. The leadership team needs to follow up with visitors and guests, and members need to follow up about the business they’ve passed.
  • Accountability for the chapter members. One of the most important parts of accountability is attendance, and it’s up to the membership committee to maintain this.

Do you have goals for your business? Do you have marketing goals and sales goals? We all know that goals are important. The question is, how well do we apply that knowledge?

If you don’t have any networking goals, you are, unfortunately, in the majority. Obviously you believe in the power of networking, or you wouldn’t be a BNI member. Why, then, would you wait to write networking goals for your business?

Networking seems to be one of those things that many people do as a reaction to no or slow business. It’s often forgotten. It’s rarely treated as an integral part of how we grow our businesses. Not only is it frequently neglected, but many people are haphazard and far from systematic in their approach to networking. This approach to networking can keep you from ever getting close to becoming an efficient networker. Setting networking goals helps you avoid the pitfalls of treating networking as an afterthought – as something far less than what it can be for your business.

One way to systematize and organize your approach to networking is to set measurable goals. Without a goal, you have nothing at which to aim. More important, if you don’t have a goal, you can’t measure your results.

When setting networking goals, keep in mind that each goal you create should be SMART:

  • Specific
  • Measurable
  • Attainable
  • Relevant
  • Timed with a deadline

Start setting SMART networking goals and you will be well on your way to reaping the great rewards of successful networking!

One of the many special things about BNI 7 is that it is relatively easy to find a sub. Many folks want the opportunity to sit before 35+ networkers – because only good things happen in that kind of setting.
But what good is it if your sub mangles your commercial or doesn’t project enough for the other guests to hear?

I suggest a few things to do when locking down your sub:

  • Give them a 30 sec commercial.
  • Give them a fun commercial.
  • Use less industry jargon.
  • Emphasize to them that it is important that they look it over a few times before reading it.

Let’s be honest, when you hear a sub botch a commercial, how anxious are you to meet and network with that person? So, it is in the best interest of the sub to be prepared, so that people in the room consider doing business with them or introducing them to potential clients.

Subs may not know what our chapter brings to the table, so it is up to the member to let them know
how important it is to be ready. We are a well established chapter and each sub is “auditioning” for bigger “supporting role” consideration. Those who do not perform well will be relegated to being an “extra” or will not get a call back.

“Memory Hooks” are short and concise so they can be easily recalled and easily spoken.

  • – If you have to take a breath, it’s too long.
  • – If yours can’t be remembered 2 minutes (or two weeks) after hearing it, it’s too complicated.
  • – If it has a “lead in” phrase it helps your chapter members say it along with you.

I always remember a whole slew of Memory Hooks from my chapter members because each is clear, concise, clever, or a combination of these three “C”s

  • – “Friends Don’t Let Friends Rent”
  • – “Let Me be Paranoid For You”
  • – “I Make Taxes Less Taxing”
  • – …when you work with me, “You Have Nothing to Lose But Your Writer’s Block”
  • – …every business has a personality, “And I Can Help Yours Get Noticed”
  • – “Taking the Gifted From Good to Great”

Marc Silverman is a web developer, Director Consultant for Manhattan BNI, and a member of Manhattan BNI Chapter 7 ( ). His Memory Hook is, “Your Web Site IS Your Business Partner.”

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