Each chapter of Business Networking International is a referral marketing group – a group of exclusive seat-holders in given fields who look for ways to refer business to each other. The motto is “givers gain”, so the focus is not on getting business, but looking for ways to find business for people. This makes you a more powerful person in the process, makes your company more powerful, and ultimately results in more referrals for yourself.
When I first went in, I discovered something that, for me, on the heels of Landmark Education, made BNI incredibly powerful. Each week you give a commercial to help people better understand what you do, and better refer people to you. Some people do the same commercial each time, but I write a new one. And its contagious. More people than ever write new ones. Some where, more do, and it’s a fantastic experience. What I get out of it, even if I never got a single referral, would be worth the price of admission. I get a test bed for marketing material that would normally cost 6 figures. Imagine, 30-40 people who run their own businesses and each week I get to try out material and see what hits – what gets quoted, repurposed, mentioned, etc. I can’t buy that kind of research.
Meanwhile it’s making me a better off the cuff speaker. I was pretty decent, already, but this is really honing that skill set. In fact, one of the key drivers of my chapter is a comedian turned speaking coach. There’s a continual encouragement to be the best we can be, for ourselves, and for each other.
The fact is I do get referrals, and I give them. And in the meantime, I’m striving to grow my business and capabilities, so I can give more. For me, the experience has paid for itself monetarily and in terms of professional qualities the process gives back. I’m now a huge fan of referral marketing and count BNI as an experiment that succeeded.