BNI aims to provide the ultimate business networking platform for professionals to grow their network, and expanding your professional network ultimately grows your business through targeted referrals. So how do you expand your network? These four simple ways explore how to make the most of your access to BNI’s professional network and expand your professional contacts.
Look To Your Power Team First
A Power Team is comprised of business professionals who cater to the same category of business and service the same target market. Every BNI chapter has a variety of Power Teams its members can join. Power Teams meet monthly to forge strategic alliances and really get to know team members’ business offerings and needs.
Bonus: members can fit into multiple Power Teams depending on your skill set and the services your business offers. Think of your Power Team as your first offensive line for solid referrals.
Analyze Your Client User Experience
When potential clients seek you out, what is the service they might require before you and after you? Pay particular attention to the Power Team members who own businesses that service your client base before and after you. This type of business relationship requires an in-depth dialogue and collaboration to align with the right type of “partners”,but pays off in relevant referrals and a solid network.
For example, a Business Coach will often refer their clients to a Graphic Designer to create a distinct visual brand. The Graphic Designer in turn can refer the client to the writer for further brand development and a reputable printer in your group. Taking the time to build collaborative relationships with the person before and after you becomes an endless referral source that is mutually beneficial
Start Doing Exploratory Meetings
The perfect approach to structure an exploratory meeting is the BNI GAINS tool. Talking about your Goals, Accomplishments, Interests, Networks, and Skills can be incredibly fruitful because they reveal commonalities, specifically aligned goals, purpose and interests. Ask questions–a lot of them! The end-game is referrals, but the approach is collaborative; fostering a level of understanding and possibly new business configurations.
Be a Student of the Game
Do something different. Pushing the envelope by taking a calculated risk can open doors you didn’t even know existed. Always keep your target market in mind to analyze if the gains will be worth a bold move, because employing new methods simply for the sake of them can still give you the same results. But with a clear goal in mind, acting outside the norm can produce immense benefits. For instance, ask for introductions to strategic partners, speaking engagements, and professional development opportunities that are in line with services you offer, peripheral industries, and your target clientele in mind.
Not giving into the fear of doing something different is key. As Jessie Potter said in her keynote speech that opened the 7th annual Woman to Woman Conference in 1981, “If you always do what you’ve always done, you always get what you’ve always gotten.” Some truths are timeless, and in business, what works one day may not the next. Learning to anticipate the unexpected waves includes being open to new possibilities. Expand your professional network, and reap the rewards.