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Monday, March 07, 2011

BNI: In Networking, Person Trumps Profession

Recently, I gave a presentation to members of the Independent Jewelers Organization on how to develop strategic referral partnerships. During a break, Ronnie Miller, a jeweler from Meyerland Jewelers in Houston, came up to me. “Brennan, I love the concept of Dr. Misner’s Giver’s Gain, although, I struggle with which professions to align myself with. We’re not like the realtor example you gave that perfectly fits with the mortgage, title, inspection, insurance agent, etc. Who do I look for, and how do I find them?” Ronnie, I owe you a diamond purchase for raising such an excellent question. For you see, in networking, you are looking for the person as much as the profession.

The Profession. Let’s be realistic. If you are a wedding planner you might not want to spend all your time with an estate-planning attorney. Unless of course it is your spouse! Rather, you’ll want to ask yourself who shares my clients but is not my competitor. Additionally, who else participates in the same transaction as I do? Did you know that Domino’s Pizza in the past had all of its national print advertising paid for by Coca Cola? Why? Most pizza orders come along with a 2-liter purchase! In choosing your referral partners, here is a checklist of what to look for in finding the right profession;

  1. Do they share my Target Market?
  2. Are they located within 15-20 miles of where I am?
  3. Is their company established with a good reputation in your market?
  4. Do they already have an affiliation with your competitor?

The Person. Once you profile the right profession and perhaps even the right company, now, finding right person is everything. Unless you have the right one of these, none of the previous points matter. Think back to high school. Do you remember the crush you had on that good looking, funny, super special person? Their looks, their style, and their personality were just right for you. They were your perfect match! If you only had one date with them it would mean love and happily ever after? Then you had that coveted date only to find out it was not a love connection, but your worst nightmare? While there probably should be no romance, there had better be some chemistry in your referral relationships. Here is a checklist of what to look for in finding the right person;

  1. Does the personality of the person complement yours? Different is good, so long as you appreciate their style.
  2. Are they ambitious and driven in their own business taking pride in themselves and the clients they serve?
  3. Do they believe in Giver’s Gain as apposed to Getter’s Gain?
  4. Do they not only believe in what you sell, but are they also a fan of you?

Imagine you arrive at a tennis club on a Saturday and you are looking for a good match with a worthy counterpart. You finally find someone you feel you’d play well with so you agree to meet on the court. When they arrive, they have a golf club in their hand. This is an example of the wrong sport, or the wrong profession. Let’s say you find someone who does have a racket, but each time you volley, they just stand there and don’t return the ball. You have the wrong person. In order for the match to be worthwhile, you’ll need find the right person. Ronnie from Houston, I wish you all the best in choosing the right people to not only play tennis with, but whom to grow your business with as well.

Brennan Scanlon is a Referral Institute Franchise owner & Executive Director for BNI. Brennan has been ranked in the Top 10% of Directors nationally for the last three consecutive years & 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
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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