Jul 1, 2015


by Brandon Souba

Do you want more out of your membership with BNI?

  • Well, the fact that you are reading this tells me yes.  But, what do you need more of in your BNI chapter?
    • Referrals, right?
I want to focus the next few months with this Blog spot on giving more referrals to your chapter.

That’s right just giving to the chapter!

To start, I want to take you back to Member Success Program training and take a few definitions out of the manual:

  • Definition of a Referral:  
    • The opportunity to do business with someone who is in the market to buy your product or service. (It’s not a guaranteed sale, but an open door to discuss your business.)
  • Definition of Givers Gain:  
    • If I give business to the members of my chapter, in return they will want to give business to me.

I start with these two points because GIVING to your chapter is how you will get more REFERRALS, and grow your business.  But something I think we overlook is that a referral is not a guaranteed sale.

I have members tell me “when I give a referral, it is already done and closed business!”  I love to hear this because most of the time the person telling me this, is not lying!  They pass referrals and it does lead to closed business.  How many more referrals would that member pass if they didn’t know it was closed business, but still made the introduction anyway?  I think a lot of members overlook a referral because they see it more as a “lead” or a “tip”, and in BNI we want to pass Referrals and not the other stuff.  I agree with this, but let’s take a lead, or a tip, and turn it into a good referral.

When you are talking to coworkers, friends, family, people you meet, that needs a service that is represented in your chapter, make sure you always offer the referral!  A lot of the time that person will tell me they have someone already, and I respect their relationship they have and move on.  But at least I asked!  You will never know if you don’t ask, right?

But what happens when they need the help of the member?  It turns into a referral!  So, you could get the info, go to your meeting, tell that member to call the person you know needs their service, and BOOM, that’s a referral… No, that is a lead. Remember, the more work you put into a referral, the more it turns into one!

Let’s take the same situation and see what you can do before you pass the referral to make it less of a lead and more of a referral.

So, you now know someone needs a service or product from one of your members.  The next step should be getting that person excited about meeting your fellow member.  Give a testimonial for the member, share a personal experience you have had using the product or service, and tell a story the member may have shared in their weekly presentation at the meeting!  The more you build up the member, the more excited the person will be to meet and talk to them.  Take it one step further and see if you can schedule a time for you to personally introduce the member.  As busy as life can get, this is not always an option.  But, what would it look like if you set up an email stream with you, the member, and the person in need of the product or service?  So many awesome things happen when you do this.  First, you can hold the member accountable for following up because you can see if they respond to the email.  Second, the chapter member’s email is now in the referrals email list. Maybe business doesn’t happen right away, but once the referral is ready to do business with the chapter member, they can start typing the email address in the To: section and most likely the name will auto populate, making the reconnection more likely to happen!  Lastly, with you being on the email, you are instantly giving the member credibility with the referral.  Remember, your referral has a relationship with you first, not the member!  Would you prefer to go to a party with someone you know, even if you make new friends and don’t spend time with the friend that took you?  Well a referral can be the same way, people are more likely to trust another business when a friend is with them to go check it out.  It is all about using your relationship with your chapter to make a referral stronger.  Regardless, I hope you can see how being involved in the introduction process can take a tip or a lead and turn it into a referral!

When I sold countertops, it was a huge advantage to have an email stream set up with me, the member, and the potential referral.  With my client, I needed to be in the kitchen to help them, so a personal meeting was usually out of the question and it came off a bit pushy.  But when the referral received the email with me on it, I would have the opportunity to introduce myself and gain more information about the referral.  How long before they were looking to do a kitchen project?  If they already picked out countertops?  Or, what their project looked like?  As a salesman I watched my closing percentage like a hawk.  So, I wanted my referrals from BNI to be ones that stood a chance of closing.  With the email introduction, including the other member, it would let me know if the referral was worth meeting now, or if it was a meeting we should plan down the road.  Helping keep my closing percentage up and still giving me introductions via referrals!

Your challenge now is, to ALWAYS ASK for the referral!  Respect if they have someone already.  But if they don’t, be involved as much as you can to help your fellow member gain credibility with the referral you are bringing into the chapter to increase closed business.  This is one way to start GIVING more to the chapter, which will lead to RECEIVING more.

So, now when you think you have a tip or a lead for a member in your chapter, feel free to pass it, that is, after you put some work into making it a referral instead! 

Next month, watch for tips about getting testimonials or stories for all your members, so you can use them when talking to a potential referral.