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Real estate attorney Jay Zimner at a BNI meeting at the Cornell Club.
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Dancing the Two-Step to Growing Your Own Business
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BNI First Thing in the Morning
by Chapter 60's Charles DeBenedittis
William Bolls and Andrea Kent with Ivan Misner at the BNI National Conference in Savannah, Georgia
JP Pullos, Jacqueline Frank, Charlene Nixon, Michael Brathwaite, and Todd Hallinger
with Ivan Misner at the BNI National Conference Awards Dinner in Savannah, Georgia
Five Days, Five Lunches, Twenty-Seven 1-2-1's: My BNI Spring Lunch Project
by Walter C. Ramin
As a devout BNI member, I continually ask myself, “How can I pass more referrals to fellow BNI members? How can I really connect with the members that are inside my chapter, but outside my power sphere, on a deeper level?” Giver’s gain.
This is where I launched “My Spring 1-2-1 Lunch Project.”
I made five lunch reservations over the course of one week. Taking advantage of restaurant week pricing at some of NYC's best restaurants, I sent a mass email to the chapter inviting everyone to pick a day that worked for their schedule. The days filled up quickly with members claiming their seats. My lunch project was "sold out" almost instantly.
I had each lunch table full of a random assortment of BNI members, keeping the number to a maximum of 6 members. Regardless of power sphere, or industry, my goal was to dig deeper and find the unlikely connections that lie therein. I knew this time had to be valuable for everyone at the table, as well as myself, so instead of referrals which are “5’s,” I wanted to dig deeper and learn about their “1” referrals.
So, using the referral slip as a point of reference, I pointed out that a "5" on the thermometer indicated a hot referral. As an example, last week, I overheard one of my clients complaining about their office computers. They were slow and virus-ridden. I referred my chapter's IT person, Brian Murphy of Murph Consulting, whom was there the next day, fixed the problems, and collected a check. An easy "5", right?
Now, I thought, “What about the other clients I have, who one day, may need IT support?” “Could I make those introductions now?” My clients trust me. I can simply make an introduction. We all give testimonials about each other at our weekly meeting, I can give a great testimonial to my best clients about a member of BNI that could potentially be an excellent source of business. This introduction is more “You should know this person,” a “1” referral, as opposed to “This person has a problem, let’s solve it,” a “5” referral.
With this in mind, I asked everyone around the lunch table, “Who are your “1’s?” What kind of passive introductions can I make for you? Who are your best client types? With whom do you do your best work?“
What I had learned really opened my eyes and drew some great connections between our chapter members. I learned our Trust and Estates attorney would like to be introduced to Nursing Home administrators, as they are a good source of referrals to families. I learned our printer knows the ins-and-outs of print campaigns for not-for-profit organizations and would like to meet more. I learned our residential Real Estate agent would like to be introduced to other real estate agents outside of NYC because empty-nesters moving back to the city from the suburbs. I also discovered other connections such as, the matrimonial attorney refers to the mortgage broker for refinancing before a divorce and the medical marketing expert and the printer both know and want to meet pharmaceutical reps.
This project gave us the opportunity to mix it up and connect on a much different level, allowing us find these new and unlikely connections with members new and old. It was a much deeper and meaningful discovery which I know will lead to more referrals and more close business. The biggest take away from “My Spring 1-2-1 Lunch Project” was how we can not only continue to listen for new opportunities, but also be intentional and proactive in creating more opportunities for our chapter.
Walter C. Ramin is a Senior Account Manager at Merchant Department and 5-year BNI Member of Chapter 53. He loves referrals to small-to-mid sized locally-owned businesses.
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