In a BNI meeting, fellow members can help you with a referral or a written testimonial. However, Dr Ivan Misner talks about four other ways that they can help you – and it’s well worth discussing all six of these strategies in your next 121.
The point is that there are many valuable actions that can be taken now that may lead to future referrals. Dr Misner calls it ‘referral development‘.
1 First, of course, a business colleague can provide you with referrals – the most valuable type of contribution you hope for from a fellow BNI member.
2 They can introduce you to prospects, without getting so far as generating an immediate referral. Dr Misner says, “Your contacts can help you build new relationships faster by introducing you to people that they believe could use your services or think that they would make a good contact for you. This can be done easily at any business event that you might be at where they act as the connector and put you face to face with someone else. It doesn’t have to be for any specific purpose. They don’t have to say that I think this person could use your products or services. But it is a way of making an initial connection with somebody else.”
3 They can provide you with a written testimonial, in effect endorsing your products or service by telling others what they have gained from using your products or service.
4 They can display your literature and products in their offices or their homes. Items should be displayed nicely on a counter or on a bulletin board in a waiting room.
5 They can distribute your information. Your contacts can distribute your marketing materials, for instance. The dry cleaner can attach a coupon from the hair salon next door in the plastic bag that they are using to cover the customer’s clothes. There are many different ways of distributing someone else’s material along with yours that would help them.
6 They can publish information for you. Contacts may be able to get information about you and your business in publications they subscribe to. Alternatively, they may be able to find avenues for articles that you write. It’s a way of helping you get free publicity.
Dr Misner adds, “Just one quick thing. It may take a while, but if you select and train your referral sources well and you use the system to its best advantage in referral development, you will really speed up the process of turning those connections into referrals for your business. It’s not just the referral that is useful for your business but there are other things that people can do that can lead to business down the road.”