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Thursday, September 09, 2010

BNI: How One Thank You Card Put 380 People in a Room

It was a normal weekday at the office while I sifted through my mail. Not uncommonly, I had received something from my area Chamber of Commerce. I should point out that this is our areas largest Chamber with over 5500 members. As I opened it, I was pleasantly surprised to find a personally hand written thank you note from the Director of Membership, John B. “Brennan, thanks sincerely for your membership, here’s to your success.” What an impact this made on me. I called John to thank him for his thank you card. Does that seem silly? It’s not. Here’s why. That phone conversation turned into a lunch, which then turned into a meeting as to how our two organizations might help one another. Although, I knew not to rush the process as our relationship was so new. Over the next few years, we invited John and his Chamber to enjoy a complimentary booth and 5 minute presentation at our All Chapter BNI Awards Breakfast. What was in it for us? Nothing. We were glad to be associated.

After a few years of this we realized that our two like-minded organizations had an opportunity to take a step together. Across the globe, regional networking organizations were coming together in February to celebrate networking during “International Networking Week” ( While “International Networking Week” is an initiative of BNI, it is open to all networking organizations. Collaboration being the mindset of course (novel idea, I know). John, Laurie, and Kitty at the Chamber embraced the idea. What happened next? Well, 380 people in a room of course. On February 3rd, 2010 to be exact. An event sponsored by 13 companies, presented by the largest Chamber in our region, the largest business referral organization (us), and the regions leader in business news. A powerful keynote speaker names Cea Cohen Elliot ( changed lives that day, and 380 people then walked out to change the lives of others.

Rewind a few years. Picture John B. sitting at his desk at 5:48pm. While he is definitely ready to head home for the day, he writes out one last thank you note. “Brennan, thanks sincerely for your membership, here’s to your success”. Had he walked out at 5:46pm, there would not have been 380 people in a room, and lives would not have been changed, including my own.

Zig Ziglar once said, “you don’t have to be great to start, but you do have to start to be great.” Life is a boomerang, you’d better start throwing. Thanks John.

Brennan Scanlon is a Referral Institute Franchise owner and Executive Director for BNI. Brennan has been ranked in the Top 10% of Directors nationally for the last three consecutive years and recently inducted into BNI's Founder's Circle. For 12 years Brennan has been training entrepreneurs how to harness the power of word of mouth to grow their business. Visit Brennan at or

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 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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