Monday, January 14, 2008

Feeding the Hand

Yesterday I wrote a post about analyzing the groups you belong to. One important aspect of membership and involvement is using the group to make connections for your networking contacts.

That's right, instead of just trying to further your own success, what about only connecting with people who can help others in your network?

As people become better networkers, clearly understanding their target market in relation to their business success and networking, one fatal mistake I see is shortened vision.

Let me set the scene.

I will use the example of BNI (Business Network International) because that's the one I know best, but of course you can insert the name of any group.

For those of you who don't know BNI, let me give you a very short explanation.

Local BNI chapters are composed of business people meeting for the purpose delivering referrals to one another. Within each chapter there is just one person per profession. Also within each chapter, Power Teams will form, sort of like sub groups of the whole. They typically will have similar types of prospects and then can more easily help each other. Sometimes the PT will meet outside the regular BNI meeting, too. This is a good thing because they concentrate on helping one another and developing strong relationships so they are very comfortable referring best clients to each other.

OK, here is where crazy thinking will creep in.

Ever so often, the members of the Power Team will say, "Why should we meet with the big group or any other group for that matter? We're all we need. We don't need any of those other people." And before you know it, they have resigned their position within the chapter.

Here's the challenge of this mindset.

The group becomes inbred. Eventually it probably dies out because no new prospects are coming to the table. They are recycling the same old client/prospect list each time they meet. They are meeting no new contacts who might lead them to a great new prospect. In time each member's value diminishes to the rest of the members of the Power Team.

And that's why isolationism doesn't work. You have to keep going out to various other groups to bring "food" back to the nest. And that's how I look at Power Teams or any other similar group. It is a safe nest. It is good. It is a place to be nurtured and fed. But you can starve to death if no food is being brought back to you.

What groups do you belong to in order to specifically feed your referral sources?

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