Networking Tips


You Know An Expert! Passing Referrals to the Most Experienced

By: Daniel Dixon
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    Networking Tips

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    Daniel Dixon

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Submitted by Robby Slaughter of the BNI Ripple Effect chapter from Indianapolis, Indiana

There are countless ways to give a good referral. But one amazing technique is to ask whether or not the person is looking for an expert.  Members of the BNI Ripple Effect chapter in the Central Indiana Region have a few words to say about their industries.

Dan Vernon, chapter President and the General Manager at Green Arbor Tree Experts, is no stranger to his customers making the mistake of hiring someone less experienced. “Besides the obvious—jobs not being completed, not meeting deadlines, quality of the work, and more money spent on correcting mistakes—in my industry there is far more on the line. The greatest danger is to human life. According to the Tree Care Industry Association (TCIA) there were 126 reported tree care accidents with 81 of those being fatal in the U.S. in 2014. So, being an expert goes far beyond knowledge of trees but also how to properly take care of them and the people working on them. Proper safety practices, safety training, and Personal Protection Equipment do not come cheap and the non-expert usually finds these things as unnecessary.  At Green Arbor, our team members are employees, and we educate them on proper pruning techniques, provider worker’s comp, health insurance, and other benefits. A true expert cares about their craft—and their team!”

Beverly Johnson, owner and CEO of At Home Health Services, knows something about the topic of expertise. Her company provides skilled caregivers to people in need and has over 100 certified and licensed employees. But it didn’t start out that way. “In 2003, my parents were both ill. My sister and I struggled to make the difficult decision to place them into a nursing home. But in 2006, I attended a business planning workshop and realized that I could offer this service directly. I opened my business in 2008, helping to take care of my own parents and a few other people.”

“Having the personal experience of working as a caregiver to the individuals most important to me had a profound influence on my business. I credit my success to the Lord who took me, an ordinary person, and enabled me to build my business on the backs of me and my husband. Having worked personally as a caregiver means that I know what means to teach our people to provide support to your loved ones.”

“Insurance is a commodity—until you need to use it,” explains Elizabeth Marshall of State Farm Insurance, a 10-year member of BNI and a founding member of BNI Ripple Effect. “You can get an online quote for your auto insurance but most consumers are not aware that 25/50/10 means that they are legal to drive and they have insurance, but if they were to be in an at-fault accident the maximum the policy would pay on their behalf would be $25,000.  This puts the remainder of their assets and income at risk for possible recovery by an injury attorney for the other party.  Seek out an insurance professional that will review your policy with you so you are sure to have the proper coverage in the event of a claim.”

Michael Dickerson of Dickerson Wealth Advisers is in the business of being a financial expert. He is a Certified Financial Planner as well as a fixture at BNI Ripple Effect. He notes that: “Recent Vanguard research shows that your advisor not only adds peace of mind, but also may add about 3 percentage points of value in net portfolio returns over time. What does this mean? Your advisor has the ability and the time to evaluate your portfolio investments, meet with you to discuss objectives, and help get you through tough markets. All of these factored together potentially add value to your net returns (returns after taxes and fees) over time.”

Paul D’Andrea, professional photographer, is new to BNI but not to his business. “Every profession has its subtle challenges that are completely missed by the layman. As a commercial corporate photographer I've made thousands of business portraits and headshots. I've read blog posts and books, watched videos, and attended classes on portrait lighting, posing, and post production. Portrait photography has many subtle challenges: Lights need to be at just the right angle and power, subjects’ head position, pose, and expression need to be directed just so. In Photoshop color, contrast, and saturation need to be just right, and the touch up work needs to make someone look great but not go too far. Then there’s the intent of the portrait, what are we trying to portray? What in a portrait will communicate a confident lawyer, a concerned, competent doctor, a fun-loving tech startup?

These days when we need repair work done at home we call a pro, someone who knows how to tackle those hidden challenges. Professionals have all worked to see and account for the subtle problems in our fields, we’re prepared for the pitfalls laypeople will miss.”

Robby Slaughter, a Principal with AccelaWork, offers his professional speakers to a variety of audiences. “The difference between an amateur and an expert speaker is poise and comfort,” says Robby. “Our presenters don’t get stage fright. They don’t stammer. They impress your audience and by association, make you look good.”

Are your chapter members experts? If they are, PROMOTE THEM, spread the word to help find them referrals!


The Ripple Effect chapter from Indianapolis, Indiana, celebrated their ten-year anniversary last year. They are 31 members strong and growing.  Visit them online at