Conversations with Oscar
My family has just relocated to Southern Utah. Being new to the area I don't really know anyone yet. I want to build my business using the hanging out formula. I'm thinking about joining a BNI chapter. If I join, how can I provide referrals to the group when I don't yet know anyone in the area?
Think of this new community of yours as your new garden. You seek a particular harvest (clients who will use your product or service, thereby generating revenue). It's never easy being the new "sprout" in the garden. But it's also a most exciting and wonderful position to be in for it positions you for incredible possibilities for growth and contribution.
The first step is to find networking opportunities. You'll find these in abundance at chambers of commerce mixers, business publication events, business open houses, ribbon cuttings and business association mixers. Look in the local business journal, or just Google those terms for your area to find such organizations and events.
As discussed in Hanging Out For a Living, attend as a guest but show up as a host.
Invite those you meet at the event, who you want to get to know better, to hang out for coffee (or, being that you're now in Utah, tea or soda) and complete the referral profile with each person. Allow them to ask about your business. By being interested, you will be interesting.
Once you've gotten familiar with these organizations, choose a couple to participate in regularly. It's difficult to effectively participate in more than two or three networking organizations, so only stick with those that feel right for you. Allow yourself the time to participate, contribute, and for people to get to know you before making any final decisions.
Realistically, this will process will take a couple of months or more. The more events you can attend at each organization, the more familiar you'll become to the organization. Familiarity will make it easier to meet more people.
Once you've established yourself as a familiar face within those networking environments, you're now ready to find your BNI chapter. Visit each one in the area and hang out with some of the members. Complete the referral profile with each person you hang out with (BNI members use the GAINS profile, so they'll already be up to speed with this process).
Once you've visited those chapters, and you've identified those which have an opening for your business classification, make your choice as to which one you're going to join.
Hang out with each member of that chapter and complete the GAINS profile or the referral profile. As you discover who their eggs, geese and granny geese are, you will also learn how to help them expand their networks. BNI members tend to focus on referring customers (golden eggs). So you'll need to educate them about the value of introductions to geese and granny geese.
Finally, ADD VALUE. We add value by introducing others to those who can even more effectively help them expand their networks. This means inviting them to the networking events you've been attending. Introducing them to those who might qualify as their golden eggs, geese and granny geese.
Following these steps will not only grow your network and position you to be introduced to those people, organizations and events you seek, but will make you an extremely valuable member of your BNI chapter as well. In time, you will be able to provide "customer referrals" (golden eggs) to the group. However, introductions to geese and granny geese, as well as networking opportunities, will prove much more valuable as they become sources of clients in themselves.
Before joining a referral group, position yourself to add value. The easiest way to add value to your new group is to be a connector. By following the steps outlined here (and explained in detail in Hanging Out For a Living), you'll quickly become the person who knows everyone! Remember to have fun in this journey, Julie, and I promise you won't be the new sprout in the garden for long.
Conversations with Oscar
Oscar is the ancient master who resides in the teapot.
Although he can be little rough around the edges, Oscar is happy to answer your questions and address your challenges regarding networking, strategic relationship building and other lessons he shares with Tyler in Hanging Out For a Living. You may submit your questions here. However, he is a little sensitive about his age (he was born Dec 4, 587 BC) and his weight (though he carries it well), so watch it!
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