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Monday, May 16, 2011

Where to Draw The Line - Setting Healthy Boundaries With Referral Partners | BNI

I'm always curious why I tend to let some things go, and other things attract my attention and sometimes my ire. Mostly I think it is because I am so eager to begin the "getting-to-know-you" process with my referral partners that I sometimes skip over the part where we lay the foundation of setting healthy boundaries and expectations in the beginning.

This can cause some unintentional problems down the line.... it's kind of like passing a referral in BNI before you've been trained what a good referral actually is - there can be misunderstandings and even hurt feelings in the process. BNI Executive Director Frank DeRaffele discusses this in his Audio CD Presentation - "A Lead is Not a Referral." It is important that our BNI members understand what the difference is between a lead and a referral, and that in BNI we do not pass Leads, in fact, they are considered a derogatory 4-letter word!

The confusing part of this is that for some people in BNI, leads are perfectly acceptable. If Mary the Realtor says that a great referral for her is a For Sale By Owner and she is willing to accept a lead vs. a referral, that is supposed to be ok - FOR MARY, not for everyone.

The same goes for keeping your word to your referral partners - do what you say you will do, how you said you would do it, and when you said you would do it. We find this in the BNI Code of Ethics. (See

So why all the fuss? Why are boundaries so important? What's the big deal, really? The big deal is that I extend to you in good faith my high regard. That you are a person of good character. That you are an ethical professional. That you respect me, my time, and my reputation. Aha! But how are you supposed to know this unless I communicate it to you? Exactly. Taking the time to educate my referral partners on boundaries and expectations in the beginning is important ground work for a successful and harmonious referral partnership.

One of the ways I accomplish this is by sharing my adaptation of Dr. Misner's 10 Commandments of Networking. (See It really spells out what healthy boundaries in a referral partnership are for me - they may not work for everyone, but it is a jump start in the right direction for new or prospective BNI members.

Melinda Potcher wants you to know that as a child, she dreamt of growing up to become either a CPA or a covert ops spy, and that as The Mortgage Maven she is actually a little bit of both! You can follow Potcher on her facebook fan page; "Musings of a Mortgage Maven".

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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