Sunday, April 18, 2010

"A Professional" or "My Professional"

Recently a member of my business contact sphere asked me which carries more weight when passing a referral, saying "My Professional Service Provider" or saying "A Professional Service Provider". This is a great question, which makes me think of the Truth or Delusion (by Dr. Ivan Misner and Mike Macedonio) statement, "Your best sources of referrals are your customers: Truth or Delusion?"

Dr. Ivan Misner says, “With a well-developed referral network, you can realize more good referrals from one or two professional referral sources than from all your customers – combined.”

So, while my contact sphere professional service provider could see some short term benefit from me as a client - he could realize more good referrals if he treated me as a professional referral source. Better yet, if he could develop strong relationships with a few of the right referral sources - he could find more referrals than from all of his clients - combined. I'm not his ideal client, I'm not in the scope of his laser fine target market. Could I use his services? Probably. Would it be a lot of time for a little gain on his part? Probably.

I have a real estate agent, a higher education consultant, and a car salesman in my immediate contact sphere. I know them and trust them and I have referred my friends, family, and clients to them - even though I haven't had a chance to use their services. I may not use their services myself for a long while - but that doesn't mean I can't refer them. I have to get to know them and I have to get to trust them. Some ways that we have done this:
  • Show up prepared for each BNI meeting, training, and 1-to-1
  • Show up on-time for every event
  • Call if they said they were going to call
  • Provide some positive testimonials from happy clients
  • Show general interest in people
  • Pass referrals to other members of our contact sphere
  • Listen
  • Train me to learn exactly what to look for in an ideal client
  • Follow-up on the referrals that they receive
  • Provide the quality of services at the prices they have quoted
  • Be Truthful
  • Display a positive and supportive attitude
  • Build goodwill and trust
  • Do a GAINS exchange
Referral Sources can do all of these things without ever having me as a direct client. If they do most of these things, and I'm in front of the clients they'd like to meet, then I'm very likely to refer their expertise. If I have a positive third party testimonial for this service provider - one that they supplied to me - then I can use that when I refer people to them.

They can be "A" professional without being "my" professional and still carry a lot of positive weight with me and the people I refer my referral sources to.

Saturday, April 17, 2010

No Substitute

A few years ago I heard a story from a fellow certified first responder. She was called to a home with a man with severe chest pain. Upon the first review of the patient, she found that the patient was not overweight, didn't smoke, and exercised regularly. She asked him if he had been doing anything strenuous before the pain in the chest started - he answered no. She asked him if he had any history of high blood pressure - he answered no.

She asked him when his last meal was - he said many hours ago. His pulse was fast, he was feeling sick, he was sweaty, and he was breathless - but there wasn't any pain spreading to his arms, neck, jaw, or back. She went through the standard checklist again - and again it seemed like he had a lot of serious symptoms, but not all of them.

He hadn't been raking (it was a mild autumn day). He hadn't eaten in a few hours. He hadn't done anything out of the ordinary. She asked him if he was taking any prescriptions, he said no. What about any alternative medicines? Well, he had been taking a cayenne pepper vitamin to maintain his circulation. Had he taken any of these cayenne pepper vitamins today? No - he hadn't. Did he usually take them every day? Yes. But not today. "Right."

And have you been doing any activities that are out of the ordinary? Nope. And have you eaten anything at all in the last few hours. "Well." Well, here's the thing. He had been taking cayenne pepper vitamins every day. Yesterday he finished his last capsule. Today - he felt it was important to not skip a capsule. So he opened a capsule of another supplement, emptied the capsule, and then filled the capsule with cayenne pepper from his spice rack. Then he popped it in his mouth with a glass of water.

About 30 minutes later he called 9-1-1 because he was having severe chest pain.

Just as do-it-yourself cayenne pepper capsules are no substitute for factory produced cayenne pepper vitamins - a do-it-yourself networking group is no substitute for a strong contact networking organization like BNI.

The regulated structure of BNI is what creates a high level of value for the members. BNI has an attendance policy. BNI allows just one member per profession - to keep you from competing within the group. BNI has meetings each week of the year - which helps to develop strong relationships between business owners who actively want to support each other. BNI has a code of ethics, structured meetings, membership training, and leadership trainings. Do the do-it-yourself networking groups have these features? Will you get the same results?

At the Referral Institute we recommend joining one strong contact networking organization. We also recommend joining casual contact and service organizations that fit your business and personality. We've found that just as there is no safe substitute for cayenne pepper pills, there is no safe substitute for your business as an organization like BNI.

In Ithaca, there are two BNI Chapters that meet each week.
Ithaca Thumbs Up!
Karen Veaner, President

Cayuga Lake Connections
Mike May, President

Throughout upstate New York, from Rochester to Ithaca to Syracuse to Albany over 30 BNI chapters meet each week. There is a great team of directors that can help connect you to a BNI chapter in your area. Here are some contact details.

Lesley Shimer, Managing Area Director
Syracuse, Albany
518 374-2841

Joel Craddock, Area Director
585 750-3927

Tim Giacoman, Area Director
Ontario County, Rochester
585 381-1190

Ellen Matuszak, Area Director
Ithaca, Tompkins County/surrounding area
607 273-8110

David McLellan, Area Director
585 503-8598

Peter Park, Area Director
Ontario County, Wayne County, Rochester
585 419-6752

Brigid Ryan, Area Director
585 334-4322

Additional details online:

Sunday, April 4, 2010

How to Give

Do you want to be selling to strangers or helping a member of your referral network by connecting them to people you already know? I wrote this for members of my BNI (Business Networking International) chapter for our April 6th meeting. I've just taken on the role of Education Coordinator and my goal is to help the members of the Ithaca Thumbs Up chapter be more effective in helping each other in BNI.

"How to Give a Referral"
At each BNI meeting, members are invited to tell all of the other members what they are looking for this week. This could be an ideal prospect, a contact with a certain title in a specific business, or a specific name that they'd like a personal introduction to. Here are steps to helping out at least one member of your BNI chapter (or of your referral network):

1. Write down what everyone is looking for, you may have 15 or 30 or 40 ideas of what people are looking for.
2. Pick one person that you can help from the list, based on what they are looking for
3. Circle that name and 'who' they were looking for
4. Call the 'who' by noon
5. If you don't have that 'who' - ask the first 3 people you meet on Tuesday if they know that 'who'
6. Continue all week (asking the first 3 people you meet, until you make the connection).
7. Bring that person's contact information and permission to call to your BNI chapter next week
8. Repeat this each week and give 50 referrals a year!

Additional Information: You Know the Prospect
Hi ______________,
Can I introduce you to (name of BNI member), the owner of the (BNI member's company name), who can help you (service BNI member provides)? He/She has helped me (how have they helped you?) and I’m seeing the results in my (business / life / health / family / can you provide an effective 3rd party testimonial here?).

Let me know if I can make this introduction.

Thank you,

--You Ask someone you know if they know the prospect--
Hi _(name of friend)_,

Can you do me a favor? I’m trying to help my friend _(BNI member first name)_ by connecting him/her to a _(who are they are looking for this week)_.

Do you know a _(Business Owner / Person / Someone)_ that you can introduce me to that fits that description?

--Your follow-up contact with the prospect--
Hi _(Prospect Name)_,
(Your Friend) gave me your contact information – she/he said you were a (who your BNI member is looking for this week).

Can I introduce you to (BNI member), the owner of (BNI member company name), who can help you (how can they help?)? He/She has helped me (how have they helped you?) and I’m seeing the results in my (business / life / health / family / can you provide an effective 3rd party testimonial here?).

Can make this introduction?

Thank you,
Repeat this and you too can bring 50 referrals a year to BNI.