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Thursday, September 16, 2010

BNI: Business Networking in 3-D

Life is, by nature, three-dimensional. From plotting points on graphs in algebra using those x-, y- and z-axes, to building a house, to watching a film through those weird glasses and seeing the action pop off the screen, we spend at least part of each day concerned about length and width and height. Is that parking space wide enough for my car? Is this cord long enough to reach the outlet? Does putting this bowl on the top shelf make sense if I use it every day and will need a stepladder to reach it?

“So,” I hear you say, “what does this have to do with networking?”

On the surface, not much. But look a little deeper. Instead of length and width and height, I’d like you to consider the duration, dimension and depth of your networking relationships.


How long has the relationship existed? Did you join a networking group three years ago, or three months ago? As every successful networker learns, trust takes time. Expecting to get referrals in a matter of days or weeks is, and I’m sorry to sound harsh here, unrealistic at best. You have to give your networking partners time: time to get to know you, to understand what you do for your clients—and why you do it better than the competition—and to learn how best to refer business to you. And while your networking partners are learning about you, you’ll be learning the same things about them.


How broad is your network? Do you belong to more than one type of networking group? Did you even know there are several types of networking groups? A great starting point is a hard-contact networking organization – one that has regular meetings with the stated purpose of passing referrals, limits membership so that one person in the group represents one and only one profession, etc.

But there also soft-contact networking organizations, too, like chambers of commerce and professional groups. Go a little wider, and you can find yourself networking at service organizations (Rotary, Kiwanis, etc.), charitable groups, and religious organizations – even the parents’ group supporting the kids’ softball team can be a networking opportunity.

(Please, though—be respectful of the purpose of the gathering. I can virtually guarantee that you will NOT increase the size of your network by handing out business cards in the middle of a wedding!)

Consider joining three types of groups—one hard-contact, one soft-contact, and one service-related or charitable group—in order to give your personal network its greatest possible dimension…while still leaving you time to both network and have a life.


How deep is your network? In other words, how well do you know your networking partners? Are you still at the surface—you know what they do (mostly) and whether they’re independent or working for someone else, and maybe a little about their backgrounds—or have you dug deeper to find out about their training or hidden talents? The better you know your network, the better you can serve each other and work together to build solid—and profitable—relationships.

BNI’s Founder and Chairman, Dr. Ivan Misner, compares the depth of a network to tree roots, especially to those of eucalyptus trees. You’ll often see these trees blown over after a heavy wind: their roots cover a wide area but simply don’t go deep enough to support them during hard times. But even for trees with root systems that are both broad and deep, those roots take time to grow.

By making your business networks three-dimensional, you’ll have a support system to carry you through the hard times to success and profitability.

Syd Mooney is the Area Director of Operations for the BNI4Success region (Greater Los Angeles –, as well as a freelance copyeditor and proofreader.

With over 5,500 active chapters, and over 100,000 members throughout every populated continent worldwide, BNI is the largest and most successful business referral organization in the world. BNI was founded in 1985 by Dr. Ivan Misner and the organization, which allows only one person from each profession to join a chapter, offers members the opportunity to share ideas, contacts, and most importantly, referrals. Last year alone, members of BNI passed 6.2 million referrals, generating 2.6 billion dollars’ worth of business.

For more information on BNI, please visit or call BNI Headquarters at 909.608.7575.

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The Emergence of The Relationship Economy

The Emergence of The Relationship Economy
The Emergence of the Relationship Economy features TNNWC Founder, Adam J. Kovitz as a contributing author and contains some of his early work on The Laws of Relationship Capital. The book is available in hardcopy and e-book formats. With a forward written by Doc Searls (of Cluetrain Manifesto fame), it is considered a "must read" for anyone responsible for the strategic direction of their business. If you would like to purchase your own copy, please click the image above.


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