I have recently connected with a group of people that belong to the Business Network International (BNI) organization. Ironically, I did not have any interaction with them as a group before these last few weeks and I say ironically – because when looking in and observing how them operate, I believe we can learn a great deal from them.
Check out these metrics of success …
In 2009, Business Network Int’l passed over 6.2 million referrals in 5500+ chapters with over 118,000 members in 43 countries resulting in more than $2.6 billion in business!
One of their basic tenants is that – referral marketing is one of the strongest ways to grow your business. And I agree. This is true for many reasons – for years, I have been talking about “The way we have done things for generations” and this is just one of them. Let me illustrate;
Imagine a nice summer day 5000 years ago in a small African village in the area we now call Mozambique; a 12 year old boy starts having feelings for a young girl in his village and has this stirring in his heart where he wants to feel and be known as a man. In his culture, that is typically demonstrated by bringing down and bringing home a large animal. He decides that bringing home a large buffalo would be too much, be decides to learn how to hunt a Gazelle. Where does he start!??
As would be logical then and now … he finds an expert; someone with a reputation of being a good hunter. But not just any hunter. He is looking for the best Gazelle hunter. So he asks his friends and family … people he trusts. He gets a name from his best friends father and since he is a bit nervous; asks if the dad could take him over to the hunters hut and introduce him. The friend’s dad agrees and the introduction is made. He now has an expert hunter who will show him how to bring down a Gazelle and he is happy. But before they leave, the hunter asks the boy two simple questions;
1. Why does he want a Gazelle? he is curious about what are they celebrating? and
2. How many people does he have in his hunting party?
These are important questions, because it will help him select the right Gazelle. But the boy is confused. Hunting party? there is only one girl involved! There is no event to celebrate and there is no hunting party? What is he talking about? its just me and nobody else! The hunter replies … can’t be done.
What? Can’t be done! the boy is confused and so the hunter talks to him about the “practices” related to hunting ….
First – you have to have a good reason to hunt a Gazelle, like celebrating a special event with your family or the village itself. That will determine the size of the Gazelle and based on the event, sometimes determine your need for female or a calf. Secondly, Gazelles are very fast animals and one individual cannot catch one; you need a team of people to help you. Each person has got a task, the main hunter will coordinate them, helping them work together and position himself in the right position to make the kill, but you need 6 or 7 people.
The hunter went on to talk about what each person would do and that some of them would have to be good runners while others would have to be able to sneak up on the Gazelle and be very quiet and experienced in being quiet in the jungle. He talked about the equipment and the tools they would need and then talked about the different hunting spots they would have to go to, to try to make the kill. Finally, the hunter talked to him about the dangers involved; from the cuts and bruises one could get from running through the jungle and the open plains to being attacked or bit by other animals and snakes to the Gazelles themselves. They could do real damage with their horns.
The boy began to understand the complexity and the level of structure and organization one needed to bring down a Gazelle. There was no way he could do this alone. He needed to get a few of his friends together to help him out and he needed to coincide his hunt with a ceremony; an event that would have bigger impact than just feeding his ego. He needed a bigger “Why”. By Golly!! there were rules!
This my friends is what BNI does for you; the small business owner. They have developed a systematic body of knowledge and business practice that help you understand the basics of Referral Marketing and they not only show you, but they also create the space for you to access and leverage “Your Team”; these are people who will actively help you bring bring down the Gazelles you need. And just like in the African village 5000 years ago; they want to know your “Why” and you better have a good one. They will also hold you accountable and will seek to have you earn their trust. Which you need to earn and keep … to stay on the team.
Join the Business Network Internation if you think you could use a team of trained people to help you access more customers.
Paul D’Souza is an award winning author and Professional Business Consultant, to reach Paul visit his website. http://www.pauldsouza.com/wordpress/