There have been occasions where a new member has joined BNI and been dissatisfied with the number of referrals they receive in their first few months. Long-standing members of BNI would understand exactly why this is. Established members of BNI understand that networking is about building relationships, not expecting referrals.
In the vast majority of occasions, BNI referrals come our way from members of our Chapter who trust us. Trust, in most cases, needs to be earned. But perhaps earned is not the right word. Developed, is probably a better description.
The best way to build trust (or indeed the only way in some opinions) is through relationship building. In fact, trust is a natural by-product of strong relationship building. You can’t have one without the other.
But building strong, trusting relationships takes time.
Some members discover a natural affinity quite quickly, but when professional reputations are at stake, it’s not uncommon for members to take time to get to know and trust someone before they refer them to their network.
In some cases, this trust process can take between 6 months to a year to develop. That’s why we advise people upon joining that they should consider committing to an initial 24-month duration to really see what BNI can do for their business.
If that sounds daunting, consider the following section of text taken from the synopsis of BNI Podcast Episode 596: I Want Referrals, and I Want Them Now!
“Strong referral relationships are like close personal friendships. It takes about 50 hours of interaction to move a person from “acquaintance” to “casual friend.” It takes a total of 90 hours to become “real friends,” and 200 hours to become close friends.
When BNI members reach the 90-hour mark, they start receiving more referrals. When those same individuals cross the 200-hour mark, they generate an average of five times as many referrals as they did in the first year.”
After hitting that 200-hour mark, not only do members enjoy a massive increase in referrals from their fellow members, but they have probably made a good, close friend to boot.
Are you a Farmer or a Hunter?
So remember, as you would often hear in BNI circles, networking is about farming, not hunting. Tend to your crops (member relationships) and enjoy the benefits of a bumper yield.