Tag Archives: BNI

Linkedin – A Great Tool When Used Right

linkedinOne of the most popular business tools in the Web 2.0 world is Linkedin. If you are not on Linkedin yet, I would highly encourage you to get there, set up a profile and start connecting with your network. More and more business networking and connecting are happening using Linkedin, it is a tool that makes it easier to connect your network. Here are several ways that you can effectively use Linkedin to help you save time, support your network, pass referrals, and set yourself apart as an expert.

1. Set up your profile – Make it complete, many people go to profiles to learn more about you and your business, what your experience is, as well as where you went to school, and who you know.

2. Put a professional photo on your profileLinkedin is not a “social” site, it is geared more for business and business people. Make sure that you are putting your best smile forward. If you do not have a professional photo get one!

3. Ask for recommendations – If you have done work for one of your clients or network members ask them if they would consider writing a recommendation for you. Last week I spoke at the BNI National Conference, several people asked me later what they could do for me. I asked each of them, if they had been in my presentation would they please go to my Linkedin Profile and write a recommendation. I asked them to list 2-3 things that they learned and why they would recommend me to others. In the Referrals for Life Program we teach our students how to write good testimonials for one another, a recommendation on Linkedin simply makes that testimonial public.

4. Invite your Network to Link – how many people do you have in your database? How many of them are already on Linkedin? Start connecting to them and invite the ones who are not on the site to join you. When you have your network on the site and you are linked to them it will make it so much easier to pass referrals and make connections between each other. You can make connections for one another on Linkedin. No more going through your CRM finding the information on a contact then emailing it. You can simply make connections on the Linkedin site.

5. Answer Questions – find questions that you can answer that will help you be seen as an expert. Because of a question that I answered on Linkedin, I was ask to speak on a conference call to a group of Female CEO’s. Find the questions on topics that you are expert in and answer them well. You can also use these same questions in your blog and newsletters.

Last week, one person in my network, connected me to someone in his network who had ask him if he would make the connection. After some conversation he ask me if I would consider speaking at the regional conference for his organization. I then connected him to someone that he saw in my network whom he thought would be good for a future speaking engagement.

Of all the sites that I am on, Linkedin is the one that makes it easy to connect my networks and help them to connect to one another, it is a perfect tool when you are in the Referrals for Life Program. Remember Linkedin is a tool that enhances, not replace your face to face networking.


Not for Profits Need to Network Too

Business Networking & Fundraising

Business Networking & Fundraising

All things being equal people want to do business with people they know, like and trust.  That includes Not For Profit Organizations.

I am speaking a the AFP or Association of Fundraising Professionals on Friday.  I am the opening act in a line up of highly professional speakers on the topic of Social Networking, or Web 2.0.

I will be speaking about how Online Networking enhances your Face to Face networking and builds stronger networking relationships.   But, I am a little perplexed, I am not sure that many Fundraising or Not for Profits really do face to face networking.  I have met very few of them at a BNI meeting or at a Rainmakers meeting.  Thinking of the chamber events I go to, I meet few if any of them there.  So, I ask myself why don’t I ever meet them?  Where are they networking?  Do they network? Are they meeting the Small Business Owers, or are they just looking for the big guys?

Gleaners Food Bank is an example of a Not for Profit that networks face to face and does it well.  They are active in BNI and have even taken leadership positions in their chapter and in the region.  Because of their participation, many BNI members have taken tours, BNI Indiana does an annual fundraiser for them.  We learned that Gleaners does not just feed the hungry,  they help pantries around the state feed the hungry.  Not just the hungry but children who get backpacks of food and senior citizens who get food delivered to them.

They have gotten volunteers, like Stacie Shipley with JNS Electric who delivers senior boxes for them every week.  They have create positive word of mouth when the had Aaron Prickle of Lushin Associates take a tour so he could understand what they really do, and he now clears up a lot of misconceptions that he and many of his associates were once under.  Victoria has educated a lot of BNI members about the organization all because she believes in face to face networking.  Unfortunately they have embraced less of the Social Networking.

The Indianapolis Human Society has done a good job with social networking, I see them on Smaller Indiana and on Twitter, but I have never met anyone from the humane society at networking meeting.

If you are a NFP or a Fundraising Professional it is important to understand that people want to volunteer and donate to people they KNOW, LIKE and TRUST.  Getting out to business networking events are important activities, it allows people to get to know you and your mission, to build a relationship, to volunteer, to spread word of mouth and to be advocates.

Using Social Media to amplify those relationships is the icing on the cake.  It is a new economy and everyone is holding on to their dollars, it is time for Fundraisers to come out of the offices and board rooms and meet the small business people in the community.  After all small business owners want to help, they are the fastest growing sector of the economy, but they also want to know who they are helping and why.  They want to meet you face to face.

Collaboration between Networking Organizations Benefit All


For years many of the Chambers of Commerce have considered BNI their competitor and in Indiana many people believed that Rainmakers and BNI were competitors, yesterday with Rave reviews from vendors, attendees, and speakers alike that myth has been busted.

Yesterday, Feb 5th, 2009 was the very First Int’l Networking Week Event in Indianapolis.  BNI, Rainmakers, Rainmaker University and Referral Institute went together to plan this event and attract other networking organizations to Collaborate with us.

The team of Lorraine Ball, Tony Sandlin, Hazel Walker and Nikki Lewallen whipped this event together like pros recruiting other organizations and getting people in the door. This team put the event together in less than six weeks bring groups together from all over the state.

International Networking Week proves that GIVERS GAIN works not only  individually but with organizations as well.  We had representatives from Confluence, Rainmakers, The Lawrence Chamber, The Bloomington Chamber, Toastmaster, Business Ownership Initiative, BPE and many more.  When organizations compete less and collaborate more the MEMBERS WIN!!!!

Next year the  event will double in size and in the years to come it will continue to grow and collaborate with even more organizations until it becomes the best Networking Event in the State of Indiana.

Get out of Your Comfort Zone

So I am at a Referral Institute/BNI Conference here in Wisconsin,  listening to Coach G’s Program.  He said something that really struck me and caused me to take a look at my activities in the last few months.  He talked about getting out of our comfort zone.  And I thought wow, I have really been in my comfort zone lately. 

How many of you are Networking in your Comfort Zone?  You go to the same meetings, you meet the same people, you collect the same cards, use the same elevator speech, and ask for the same business in the same way.  You are in your comfort zone, not stretching, not growing.

To grow professionally and  to grow your network more effectively you must get uncomfortable. Do those things that make you stretch.

Go to an associations meeting, a training or a networking event that you have never attended before. Learn something new.  Meet new people, meet people who might know something that you do not know, spend money on a training program and meet others who are learning the same thing as you are.  I am amazed how often our students in Referral Institute strike up relationships that turn to great business relationship because they are in the 12 week program and learn together.

Get uncomfortable!  If you are not uncomfortable you are not growing, if you are not growing your are dying.

Your Reputation and Networking

What can/does networking do for your professional reputation?

By “professional reputation”, I mean how people view you as a professional both in the meeting room and outside the office. Your integrity, respect, intelligence, and impact on those around you. When you network through LinkedIn, how can professional networking relate to all these areas?

Networking creates visibility for you, people know who you are and have a face to put with a name.  Quality networking can indeed enhance your reputation and create credibility for you.  Poor networking can create a different reputation.  People who drink to much, people who pitch and pressure others about their product or service and people who show up in person with a very poor professional image, create a whole different reputation, not the one they may have wanted. 


There is a person on Linkedin who consistently puts stupid, trying to be funny,  answers to peoples questions, he thinks he is cute, many others think very differently, so he has a reputation, it just may not be the one he wants. 


Online or in person, it is very important to mind your manners, behave professionally, don’t be a know it all, participate, answer questions intelligently, follow up with people, become known as someone who does what they say and always Give before asking to Get.  You will be well respected, thought of as someone who is intelligent and connected.  You will be someone that others want to be linked to. 


My friend Scott Allen wrote a book called “The Virtual Handshake”  it is a great resource for people who want to network online.  Dr Ivan Misner founder of BNI and the Referral Institue has written many great books on Networking and how to build credibility with your network. 

Are you Networking or……..

are you working your Network.  I asked this question of several of the students in our Referral Dynamics Class last week and I later asked the same question of several BNI members.  In every case they said that they spent a great deal of time working their networks.  They attended the regular meeting, connecting with their fellow members, and they indeed did work their network.

Unfortunately that is not the network I was speaking of.  That is one of the places that you go to network, I was speaking to “Your” Network.  Those people whom you have in your database, those people who have met when you have been out networking.  How much time do you put into working your network, calling them up to reconnect, sending articles to them, meeting them for coffee, inviting them to events, or publishing them in your newsletter.  Do you track your activities and whom you are spending your time on?

The Referral Institute has a very handy tool called the “Networking Scorecard”.  This tool allows you to track the activities that you are spending on your network.  Creating a proactive process for nurturing your network, so when you have a need there is no problem picking up the phone and calling someone in your network and asking for help.  After all, you have spent quality time working your network.  Sometimes it is more important that you spend time developing what you have then adding more to the mix.  Once you have developed your network, then you can spend time adding more to the mix.

Mine is bigger than yours……..

There is a great deal of pride in the size of a man’s, er, uhm well, you know, their network or at least the number of people in their database.  But, isn’t there an old saying about it’s not about how big it is but more about how…….um, well how well you know the people in your network?

Quality not quantity, visibility networking over credibility networking.  When you work in your network, building relationships, following up with people finding ways that you can help them and connect them you are building a stronger, more credible network.

Recently, I wanted to meet a certain person who’s name will not be mentioned.  I began to ask my network, who had this person in their network and could they connect me.  Keep in mind, for me a connection is either a face to face introduction or a conference phone call where all three parties are on the call.  More than half my network had his name and number in their network, but only 2 people were able to pick up the phone and arrange a meeting and introduction and both of those people were willing to make that happen for me.    Only 2 people really knew the person I was looking for………so what good were the others?  What value is there in having a name and phone number in your network if you have not done anything to turn it into a relationship.

Take time to develop your network, not just grow your network.  Take the time to build Credibility, in so doing, it will lead to Profitability!

I had taken the time to build strong relationships with the 2 people who were willing to connect me, they were in my highly credible network and I was in theirs, so they did not hesitate to make the connection for me.   By the way, the 2 people who were able to connect me, theirs were not the biggest.