How To Lead Your Chapter In Referrals

By Gil Zeimer, BNI Embarcadero & BNI’s International Board of Advisors

There’s one in every crowd, and in my crowd, I’m the one.

I’m a BNI Copywriter who has led my chapter in the number of referrals given to fellow members, members of other BNI chapters, visitors, guests, and clients for at least the last five years.

Why am I able to generate more word-of-mouth referrals than anyone else in a group that has averaged 55 members?

Why do I out-refer others who come into contact with far more people than I do on a daily, weekly or monthly basis?

Why do I affectionately call myself a “referral maniac”?

And what is my secret sauce? The answers are no secret.

I take a very logical approach to giving referrals and I’m happy to share them with you in this blog.

1) Treat BNI Like a Client.

First and foremost, as a BNI Copywriter, I give my chapter the attention each day that I give to my best clients.

With every email I receive or every call I have, I look at possible ways to refer my clients, friends and family to BNI members.

Some days, I make referrals far beyond what shows up in BNI Connect, such as introducing a client in Dallas to a phone system analytics company in Southern California that tracks and records each call. This type of referral doesn’t show up in the BNI weekly reports, but my client and my phone rep both appreciated the connection.

2) Always Be Prepared.

Like a good scout, I’m always prepared each week to report on my referrals. The majority of these are given between the end of last week’s meeting and the beginning of this week’s meeting –– and I note them in BNI Connect when they happen.

As a BNI Copywriter, I also create a new, fresh and different 30-second infomercial each week and practice it at home with a stopwatch so I know that it doesn’t run too long.

3) Be Specific.

Sometimes, my 30-second infomercial includes asking for a referral to my favorite types of clients, including ad agencies, medical practices, travel companies, technology start-ups, and financial institutions.

Other times, I play a 15- to 30-second TV or radio commercial, show the home page of a website, focus on a blog post, or I hold up a magazine ad, which are the types of projects that I write most often.

4) Be Proactive.

I pride myself on giving at least one referral every single week, week after week, year after year.

Some years, I’ve averaged three to four referrals a week. Last year, it was about two. Either way, I feel proud to be proactive in having referrals ready for my meetings.

After all, the more referrals you can give, the more you can expect back through Giver’s Gain.

5) Be Listening for Specific Asks.

On the infrequent week that I don’t have a referral already planned for my Wednesday morning BNI meeting in San Francisco, I make sure I pay extra attention to each member’s infomercials and listen to specific asks for the type of referral they’re looking for this week.

This could be a nonprofit client for the business coach, someone who needs help obtaining a visa for the immigration attorney, large companies who are auditing their copying machine contracts, someone buying a home and needing the guidance of the mortgage broker, or a family in need of a trust attorney to straighten out an ongoing issue. Whatever the specific issue, I know I can connect the right BNI member to a possible client.

And as a BNI copywriter, when I hear a member complain that their website is not successful in helping them attract a new client, I refer myself to help revise the web content to better sell their products or services.

6) Be Doing More 1-2-1s.

Whenever I have an in-depth 1-2-1, it almost always leads to a referral for a BNI member.

These meetings enable us to take the time to drill down to exactly what kind of people each of our sphere of influence includes, who our best customers are, and who are dream clients should be.

Also, think about visiting other BNI Chapters in your area, or when you’re traveling to other cities. These can certainly lead to more referrals for members of your chapter –– and in a higher number of referrals for you.

For example, I visited another chapter two years ago and met a marketing expert. I told him I’d like to work with him on writing his client’s websites and blogs.

At the time, he was working with another writer from his own chapter, but shortly after we had a second 1-2-1, he phased me into his workflow. Now, every month, he sends me an email through a project management system to write a wide variety of projects and I am now poised to refer him to a possible long-term client, too.

7) Be Present With A Referral Mindset.

Frankly, it pisses me off to see fellow members on their phones during our BNI meetings.

If they’re checking email or reading news feeds, how can they be listening for referrals?

In addition, if you have what I call a “referral mindset”, you’re always looking for ways to refer others to people you know.

8) Be Proud.

Only one member in every BNI group can say that you lead your chapter in referrals.

So if it’s you, be proud. If it’s not, work harder every week so that you can grab that crown.

As Zero Mostel said in original Mel Brooks’ movie, “The Producers”, “When you’ve got it, flaunt it, baby, flaunt it!”

Gil Zeimer is a BNI Copywriter who has been a member of BNI Embarcadero in San Francisco, CA, since April 2005. He is a past chapter President, current Membership Chair, and a member of Dr. Ivan Misner’s International Board of Advisors.

Copyright: argus456 / 123RF Stock Photo