Members of BNI enjoy the benefits of being part of the world’s biggest and most successful networking organisation. With this comes exposure to knowledge and experience that assists us to network effectively and efficiently. In thinking of how other networking organisations operate, I was reminded today of a quote from our founder, Dr. Ivan Misner. He spelled it out quite well when he said “It’s Not Net-Sit or Net-Eat — It’s Called Net-Work”
Sure, we sit for our meetings. But the networking component happens before and after the meeting, and throughout the week.
Before the meeting starts, we should be actively seeking out fellow members and visitors to talk and network with.
Small talk is fine, but it’s best to show that you are interested in helping the other person achieve the success they are looking for. Through conversation, try and find out something you can do to help that person. Maybe it’s an introduction to someone, or sharing an experience that could solve a problem they’re facing.
Conversations like this are harder to have when you’re sitting down at a networking event, especially if everyone else is standing. Likewise, it should go without saying that conducting these conversations with a mouth full of food is also unwise, but it’s pretty common at many events.
Dr. Ivan Misner’s “10 Commandments of Networking” go like this…
- Have the tools to network with you at all times (card holder, badge, business cards, etc.).
- Set a goal for the number of people you’ll meet.
- Act like a host, not a guest.
- Listen and ask questions.
- Don’t try to “sell” to them.
- Give referrals whenever possible.
- Exchange business cards.
- Manage your time efficiently.
- Write notes about your conversation.
- Follow up!
You’ll notice that there is no mention of food or seating amongst those commandments.
Back in August of 2018, I wrote a blog on the “Power of One”. The Power of One forms the fundamentals of networking effectively within BNI. You’ll notice there’s no mention of sitting down and eating in that blog either.