Making Networking Work
Wednesday - December 02, 2009
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By Joann Seery
Executive Director of BNI Hawaii
When I started my first business, I thought I was well prepared. After all, I went to a business school, earned my MBA, and even taught business to adult students. I had saved money to seed my new family business and set up my office. I was ready!
It didn’t take me long to learn that if I did not get some clients quickly, I was going to be hungry very soon. I had no idea how to find the people who were looking for my service. Necessity being the mother of invention, I was forced to learn how to network and build a business by receiving referrals. It truly changed my business and my life.
Today, more than ever, we hear about the benefits of networking. On any given day you can have your choice of several different events. They can range from early-morning meetings to events that last late into the evening.
I often hear professionals complain that they spend too much time networking with no results. Some people say they are having fun but not making any money. Others feel they are wasting their time.
Some feel frustrated because they are not meeting the right people - they find that they give referrals to people, but those people are not reciprocating with referrals.
This is where we can help. BNI Hawaii and the Referral Institute offer education, training, and a system that takes “chance” out of networking and referrals. We teach professionals how to network to get the results that will help them reach their goals. Learning the science behind effective networking takes the guesswork and waiting out of the process.
BNI Hawaii has grown from 60 members to more than 600 on Oahu, Maui, the Big Island and, most recently, Kauai. This year, to date, members of BNI Hawaii have generated more than $12 million worth of business. Professionals join chapters that allow only one person per profession per chapter. The members act as a sales team for each other. Our philosophy is “giver’s gain” - if I help you grow your business, you will want to help me grow mine.
The real training and science for an effective networking process is done through the Referral Institute. Our certified trainers and presenters teach our participants how to look for and how to implement a specific process that develops strong referral partnerships. In one course, the Certified Networker Program, participants receive the working knowledge needed to develop a strong referral marketing plan for their business.
I believe that networking and referrals are a great way to build your business. But people need the tools to succeed. Professionals must have the right referral marketing knowledge. They need to have a system that keeps them immersed in the networking process, and have accountability to implement their plan. They need to be aligned with the right people and have the right information to succeed.
Learning the science behind networking has changed my life. It brought me the right relationships that I needed to succeed. Now I am able to share what I have learned with others and change their lives as well.
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