Being a Director for BNI, I am no stranger to early mornings. Morning meetings, early travel, morning network events, and so on. But no matter what the reason we are up in the morning, there is one thing most, if not all people want. NO, need, and it is COFFEE!!
For those of you that know my work history, I worked for local and corporate coffee houses growing up. I loved the relationships that I built as a star Barista, and I’m pretty sure I was people’s best friend before 7 a.m., because I had what they needed. As I was setting up a morning event for BNI, a member got there early. The first communication was not “good morning”, or “good to see you”, it was “where is the coffee?” Once again working in coffee houses, this question is a form of saying “good morning, but it won’t be until I get my coffee”, so I was not offended. But I realized referrals and coffee have a lot in common!
First off, almost everyone needs coffee to start the day. Well, we need referrals to help grow our business! As coffee gives us the strength to wake up and get the day going, referrals help bring in business, but also helps grow relationships to keep your business going. BNI can provide referrals that every business needs to grow, just as your coffee pot provides you the liquid gold you need to get through the day!
Second, it takes a while to get used to the taste of coffee. I think of kids, when they take that first drink of black coffee and wonder why anyone would put this hot, bitter, dark sludge in their stomachs. But once we feel that caffeine rush kick in and it gives you the boost you need to keep going, the taste doesn’t matter anymore! It is the results that make it all worth it. Well sometimes networking can be a bad taste to start, you spend all this time going to events, meeting new people, but no business is coming from it. But once you receive the first referral that closes in business, it is all worth it. Once you get used to the networking activities, and the commitments, the referral results help give you the boost you need to grow your business, but it takes time. BNI helps grow relationships that lead to referrals for your business, so remember it may take a while to get used to building relationships in BNI. Once you get a “taste” for BNI it can help your business more than you know.
Third, everyone has a custom way to drink their coffee. Going back to my coffee house days, the combinations and requests of what to put in a cup were endless, and once I thought I heard it all, someone would ask for a new style I never thought of. Referrals are the same way. You need to customize your networking so you can reach the connections you are looking for. Once you think you have tried everything to bring in more business, meet with other business professionals and see if they have an idea you never thought of. BNI can be that different “drink” you could recommend another business owner that they never thought of. No one would think a double shot, over a 6 oz. cup of ice, with one sugar in the raw, stirred in, and a splash of soy, could be good, but trust me I introduced it to many college students and I know it helped them graduate!
Fourth, not one blend is perfect for everyone. When you go to a coffee house, do you get an iced drink, hot drink, a drink with steamed milk, a bold coffee, a light roast? There are so many different options available, some people order the same thing every day, and others order something different every time they get a drink. Networking is the same way! All businesses find their clients differently (cold calling, door knocking, advertising, trade shows, evening events) but regardless of how you find your clients, referrals can always help. In BNI you are exposed to many different professions in one room! With a room full of different “Blends” you have so many different avenues to find that next referral. Maybe you have a power team with another member and you get referrals every week from them, or you get referrals from many different people in the chapter each week. Regardless, if you want variety in your network, make sure you have flavor options.
Last, the cost!! At one point there was a drink I made for a customer, and that one drink alone cost $7.19…. She had one every day…. Yes that is $2,624.35 a year for her one, White mocha Frappuccino with 2 extra shots of espresso. Some people I know make coffee at home for 20 cents a day, and it all works the same. Well in marketing there are many different avenues to expose your business, all with a different cost point. Some are very expensive, and the results are all over the board. Other avenues are more time than money for a business owner, but the results can still be all over the place. In BNI there is a cost, and some businesses might see it as a low cost, where other businesses might see it as a larger investment. But when you look at results, that is where the cost vs. time makes a huge difference. BNI has a time commitment, but with tracking, and a proven system, you will get the drink you are looking for every time! It will get to the point where you are drinking the white mocha frap every day for the 20 cents a day cost!
I thought this would be a fun blog to post and I hope you have enjoyed the comparisons. The main point I wanted to get across is, most people look at coffee as a requirement of their day. Without it, things don’t go right and the day is a challenge. Networking for referrals IS a requirement for a business to grow and survive. Let BNI be your coffee for your business, and share the experience with others so they can use BNI to wake up their business!