BNI Live! Peek Into The Inner Workings Of A Real Networking Meeting

By December 3, 2015Podcast, With Guests
BNI Live! Peek Into The Inner Workings Of A Real Networking Meeting

The Web.Search.Social Podcast Is Live!

This week we’re doing something completely different. In response to a number of people asking us about a past episode where we spoke with BNI director Paul Scharff about networking, we’re recording this episode live from one of my weekly BNI meetings.

Why?

First, you’ll get an idea of how a networking meeting runs so you’ll have a little extra ammo if you decide to check out a local networking group of your own.

Second, you can learn a bit more about how to make networking more effective for your business.

We recorded most of the meeting – changed up just slightly for time – so if you listen all the way through you’ll hear every group member’s “commercial” interspersed by some commentary and a few lessons you can take away.

The BNI Commercials

As part of the weekly meeting every member gets 45 seconds to talk about his or her business and let the rest of the group know how they can help generate leads and sales for that business.

Time is of the essence! If someone goes over the 45 second limit they get dinged and have to wrap it up immediately.

We kept all the commercials in the recording because we thought it would be a great opportunity for you to hear how other people do it – and which were most successful. While we don’t comment on all the commercials, you can decide for yourself which were most interesting, which gave you the best idea of what a business is about, which made you yawn and which you could emulate to help you craft your own commercial.

First up:

Nick West, Family First Funding (residential and commercial mortgages)

Mike Garone, Shorepoint Travel (cruise planning and travel related services)

Mike Ash, Garden State Fire & Security (residential and commercial alarms)

Jay Eriv, GROUNDS KEEPER (residential landscape design)

Glen Koedding, Green Sun Energy (solar solutions and emergency generators)

Ed Bowen, Re/MAX Generations (residential real estate agent)

Ira Bernknopf, The Bernknopf Group (accounting and tax practice)

Randy Scoras, Holmdel Auto Body (auto repair)

We pause here to talk about the structure of a good commercial, which often includes a component that starts, “Did you know…” and ends with a memory hook so people can easily identify your business.

For example, Randy of Holmdel Auto Body uses the memory hook “you bend ’em, we mend ’em.” That makes it fun and easy to remember what Randy does and helps people find him leads.

A good commercial can also include a specific “ask.” Some members name a prospect they’re pitching and ask if anyone knows that person. You’d be surprised by how often someone knows someone else and can make a personal introduction.

In fact, one of the members recently asked to meet the president of a property management company – and that property management company just so happens to be the one that manages my homeowner’s community. In fact, I was having breakfast with the president that day. Not only was I able to make the introduction but I invited the president to attend the weekly meeting.

George Lechner, Coastal Air Conditioning (heating, air conditioning and HVAC)

Bill Savage, Savage Restoration (water, fire, mold and property damage restoration)

Dan Campbell, Campbell Petrie (employee benefit consulting)

Steve Burke, SLB Electrical Contracting (residential, commercial and industrial electrical services)

Staci Roccanova, Mikita & Roccanova (residential real estate attorney)

We pause again because Staci is the first woman we’ve heard from and I want to know how she feels about being in a room full of men. I ask her to talk about how women can overcome their fears of being in the vast minority.

Staci says she was overwhelmed when she first visited our group, because when she joined there were no other females (we have a few more now!) so she decided to bring a male colleague with her. That helped her feel more at ease at first, until she was able to determine that the group was welcoming and warm. She found that in this particular group, she didn’t feel like “a woman”. She just felt like a businessperson and an equal.

Staci goes on to say that it’s important to walk into a room with your head held high.

Carol Lynn agrees. She says that if you behave differently or fearfully then people will pick up on that. But if you expect to be treated as an equal and you walk into a room confidently then you’ll have a better experience.

Juan Ramos, AHR Design Solutions (handyman, home remodeling service)
Another quick pause as Paul Scharff reminds everyone that you have to get a good “feel” for a group. Not all networking groups are alike but you’ll get an intangible feeling about whether or not a group will be a good fit for you.

Brian Aubry, RCP Management (property management for condominiums and townhomes)

Steve Marchi, All Occasion Limousine (personalized limousine service)

Mike Lencsak, Buhler Auto Truck Group (automotive sales)

Donna Ostrowski, Amboy Bank (commercial bank services)

Antimo Russo, Antimo Plumbing & Heating (plumbing installation and repair)

Quick pause to talk about how membership works… many people think that only one person of any type of business can be a member in a group. For example, if the group has an attorney, no other attorney can join. But in our group we have 4 attorneys because each of them specializes in a different area of law.

A group could have two photographers, for example, if one specialized in weddings and another in family portraits.

Bill Mikita, Mikita & Roccanova (certified civil trial attorney)

Randy Drozd, Profulgent Technology (IT and computer services)

Hal Soden, Oliver E. Soden Agency (property and liability insurance consulting and risk management)

Trivia alert! Turns out that Hal is a colleague of friend of the show Ryan Hanley. I didn’t know that until one day recently when I told the group about Ryan’s book Content Warfare and Hal chimed in that he knew Ryan. Love how networking cements connections!

Mark Gabriel, Lyons & Associates (family law attorney)

John Finnegan, Atlantic Office Systems (copiers, printers, scanners and fax)

John Harvey, DUCTZ (air duct and dryer vent cleaning)

Dave Walker, D. Walker Design (graphic designer)

We mention the idea of a “power partner” here because Dave is a graphic designer and makes a great referral partner for us, and us for him. Our industries overlap and our collective clients often have a need for both of our services.

Bill Kugelman, Powell & Roman (transactional and business litigation services)

Dr. Dennis Hupka, Back 2 Health Family Wellness (chiropractor)

Carol Lynn Rivera, subbing for Tim Cahill, Siding & Windows by Tim Cahill (exterior home remodeling, siding, roofing, windows and doors)

When a member is absent, they can have someone sub for them. One of the members who was off on a hunting vacation asked Carol Lynn to sub, so she read his commercial.
Tony Martinez, Tapeo Restaurant (Spanish & Portuguese cuisine, private events)

Paul Scharff of Paul Scharff Photography, subbing for Carl Flohs, Flo-Dar (kitchen and bathroom design)

Paul was a guest on our podcast twice, once as we mentioned earlier to talk about networking but also to talk about how photography can be used to make you more money.

Featured Presentations

Each week two members get 10 minutes each to speak to the group in depth about their businesses. Today Paul is one of the featured presenters. He isn’t a member of our group but he is our regional BNI director and visits on occasion. We were lucky to have him today.

Instead of the usual speaker presentation, I ask a series of questions that Paul fields like the pro he is.

Firs I want to know, why join a networking group? Paul says it will make you more money. Each week you have a room full of people dedicated to listening to what you need and helping you close deals.

What makes a good networking group? Paul says – show up! Be present, participate and listen. And of course, make personal referrals whenever you can.

Paul pays us a compliment when he says that ours is one of the strongest groups in Monmouth and Middlesex counties. He suggests that for all members – in our group and elsewhere – always be thinking about your commercial. Use your fully allotted time and make sure you refine, refine, refine your pitch.

He also clears up a common misconception we hear often, which is that if you don’t deliver a certain number of referrals or revenue to the members of the group, you’ll be kicked out.

At least in BNI, that is simply not true. There are many ways you can participate in the group, whether through referrals, by being part of the leadership team, volunteering for other tasks, even bringing guests.

After Paul, it’s time for Tony to be featured. Tony is the owner of Tapeo Restaurant, which is also the venue for our weekly meetings. He started out as a boy on a farm in Spain, worked for some time in corporate America, opened a cooking school in Barcelona and finally landed in Hazlet New Jersey where he is feeding Portuguese and Spanish cooking to many happy locals.

Tony speaks a bit about his business, the types of services he offers and why we should send referrals his way.

The key to profitable networking is to let the people in the room know how they can go out into the world and be your sales team.

The Wrapup

One of the aspects of the meeting that we didn’t record was the roundtable we do at the end where every member has a chance to make a few comments on the meeting, thank other members for introductions or give testimonials.

But it’s also one of the most powerful parts of the meeting so we didn’t want you to miss out on it completely.

We give our own testimonial to close out the show, by thanking Tony for a great experience at his restaurant. The night before we recorded this podcast, we went to the restaurant to set up the podcasting equipment and afterwards we stuffed ourselves silly with tapas and mojitos.

Now we can recommend the restaurant to people with confidence because we’ve actually been there and done business personally with Tony. We know from experience that the food is great and that the owner truly will go out of his way to make sure you have a wonderful experience.

And that right there is the power of networking.

Whether you’re thinking of joining a BNI or some other networking group, get out there and visit a meeting. Visit two, three and more. Find the group that feels right for you, one where you feel welcomed, one where members are committed to helping each other. One hour a week can make a tremendous impact on your business and your bottom line.

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