An article written by Dr. Ivan Misner founder of BNI.
Talk of a recession??? Now, more than ever, business people need to network to stay in business. Show this article to anyone wondering whether now is the time to join BNI!
According to Dr. Ivan Misner, you can actually prosper-do your personal best-while everyone else flounders in fear. This month Dr. Misner and BNI Area Director Tim Houston share their insights on how do so.
I Refuse to Participate in a Recession!
When you can't control the economy, control your response.
By Dr. Ivan Misner, BNI Founder and Chairman
Many economic gurus are saying the "R" word ... recession. For the most part, the U.S. economy has been strong and business has been good for the past decade. However, the economy goes through cycles. Even if we don't see a full-blown recession, business is slowing for many people.
Unfortunately, every time the economy takes a downturn, the fallout is felt strongly by salespeople, business owners, and professionals alike. Successful business professionals learn from the past. For some, this will not be our first recession.
So what did we learn from previous economic downturns? In the early 1990s, right in the middle of a nasty recession, I was at a business mixer in Connecticut meeting many local business professionals. It seemed that everyone was feeling the crunch from the slow economy. Throughout the entire event, the favorite topic of discussion was how bad the economy was and how things were getting worse. The whole affair was depressing because nearly everyone was obsessed with the problems of the economy and its impact on his or her business.
I was introduced to one of the many real estate agents attending. Given the decrease in property values in the state, I was leery of asking this gentleman the standard "How's business?" question. He shared with me, though, that he was having a great year. Naturally, I was surprised and asked, "You did say you were in real estate, didn't you?"
"We are in Connecticut, aren't we?"
"Yes," he said with a slight grin.
"And you're having a good year?" I asked.
"I'm actually having my best year ever!" he said.
"Your best year!" I said in amazement.
After thinking for a moment I asked him, "Is this your first year in real estate?" "No," he replied with a laugh. "I've been in real estate for almost 10 years." I asked him how he was doing so well, given the conditions of the economy and the stiff competition. He reached into his pocket and pulled out a badge that said: "I refuse to participate in the recession!"
"That's your secret?" I asked. "You refuse to participate in the recession, so business is booming?"
"That's correct," he said. "While most of my competitors are crying the blues about how bad business is, I'm out drumming up a ton of business networking with my contacts and generating referrals."
Considering what he said, I looked around the room and listened in on people for a while as they complained about how bad business was. While nearly all were commiserating with one another, I concluded that very few were actually networking and working on seeking new business. As a result, very little business was actually being accomplished. If you want to do well in business, you must understand that it does absolutely no good to complain to people about tough times. When you complain about how bad business is half the people you tell don't care and the other half are glad you're worse off than they are.
While you cannot control the economy or your competition, you can control your response to the economy. Referrals can keep your business alive and well during an economic downturn. During the last recession, I watched thousands of businesspeople grow and prosper. They were successful because they consciously made the decision to refuse to participate in a recession. They did so by developing their networking skills and learning how to build their business through word of mouth.
Don't let a bad economy be your excuse for failure. Instead, make it your opportunity to succeed. While others are looking at the problems, those of us looking for opportunities will not only get through a bad economy but will prosper.
BNI has grown through every previous recession because business people know that referrals are a key to their success and it is the most cost-effective form of advertising there is. NOW is the time to invite your closest business associates into BNI.
Read Dr. Misner's sequel to the above article at his www.NetworkingEntrepreneur.com blog.
Called the father of modern networking by CNN, Dr. Ivan Misner is a New York Times bestselling author. He is the founder and chairman of BNI, the world's largest business networking organization. His latest New York Times best selling book, Masters of Sales, can be viewed at www.MastersBooks.com. Dr. Misner is also the Sr. Partner for the Referral Institute, an international referral training company. He can be reached at email@example.com.
... and I Agree to Create Prosperity for Others and Myself!
It's about recommitting yourself to the basics of networking.
By Tim Houston, BNI Area Director, New York City Outer Boroughs
Dr. Ivan Misner has written an insightful-and timely-post on his blog, Networking Now, called "I Refuse to Participate in a Recession!" In the article, Dr. Misner writes:
"While you cannot control the economy or your competition, you can control your response to the economy. Referrals can keep your business alive and well during an economic downturn. During the last recession, I watched thousands of businesspeople grow and prosper. They were successful because they consciously made the decision to refuse to participate in a recession. They did so by developing their networking skills and learning how to build their business through word of mouth."
After reading these comments, I committed to not participate in the highly talked about recession. Instead, my response will be to create prosperity for others and myself during the economic downturn.
Here are three, simple ways I intend do just that-and so can you:
1. Restart a Relationship with Old Referrals Sources
Ideally, your business should be in constant contact with your referral sources. But there will be times when, for some reason, old referral sources may have stopped referring you or you may have stopped referring them. Perhaps you-or they-were "out of sight" and thus "out of mind." Whatever the reason the relationship has faded, reestablish the relationship: send them a handwritten letter, send a greeting card, make a phone call, or offer to take them to lunch or dinner.
2. Get a Referral for the Giver
All too often, someone refers a prospect to you, and the prospect becomes your client. You do a great job for them, and they are happy. Your source (the "giver") receives great feedback about the experience and you make money. That's nice for you ... but what about the giver of that referral? What if there was a way for you to get the prospect to refer business to both the giver and you?
To generate more referrals from a prospect that was referred to you, lay the foundation for future referrals from the first minute you meet them by doing the following:
3. Seek Referrals from Current and Former Clients-for Both Your Referral Partners and Yourself
- Focus on and acknowledge the source of the referral by talking highly of them in your first meeting with the prospect. The giver referred the prospect to you; now your job is to bolster their credibility in the presence of the prospect.
- Talk about the giver's services/product to the prospect before you talk about your own. In advance, talk to the giver and ask, "What should I say to the prospect about you?" A third-party testimonial may help them to contact the giver to either buy the product or to refer someone to them. Plant seeds so that the prospect starts thinking outside of the transaction he/she has with you. You are seeking to create a win-win-win situation for all of the people involved: the giver, the prospect, and yourself.
Seems simple, right? Yet too many of us are so focused on getting new clients that we forget about the old ones-who are often times just as valuable if not more valuable than new ones. There's absolutely nothing wrong with seeking referrals from your current and former clients, provided that you have established a good relationship with them.
Do not ask for referrals immediately during the sales process or right after the sale. That turns people off. You don't want to pressure them by using the old, outdated technique of telling them to "refer three people who can use my services." Quite frankly, it places undue pressure on them.
As you develop the relationship with your client/customer/patient, you should make reference to the fact that you prefer to deal with people who are referred to you by satisfied customers/clients/patients. Show them testimonial letters and thank you notes from others who have referred business to you or were referred to you. Third-party testimonials not only help you to establish additional visibility and credibility, but they also act as a catalyst for your prospects to refer you business. It's the concept of Social Proof that Donald Trump and others use.
Generating referrals for your referral partners from your existing and former client base can be done in a simple way. When I opened my consulting practice in 1996, I sent a letter to my clients and everyone with whom I had a relationship that highlighted personal contacts who offered specific services. After I listed them, I told my contacts that if they ever needed the services of one of these professionals to please contact me for a personal introduction.
Many people did that. In turn, it helped me develop referrals for my referral partners. In many cases, I got a referral for people I did business with as well as for myself. I became known as the "go-to guy."
These three simple techniques should help you realize that you always have the ability to create prosperity for yourself and others, and you don't need to wait for a recession to do so. The payoff is priceless-and not just in terms of money. You will delight in the satisfaction of helping someone get what they want or need, and relationships (new and old) are improved. This is what Givers Gain is all about.