Networking Tips

Unlock BNI with One-to-Ones

Submitted by Erik Kolomaznik, BNI Vermont Ambassador



At the beginning of my membership I enjoyed One-to-Ones with fellow members and found them mostly useful. And yet, that was the extent of my One-to-Ones. The quality of relationships with my BNI teammates has always been a critical element to being part of my chapter, and I could see the quality of my relationships growing over time with repeated attendance plus a healthy serving of casual One-to-Ones. However, the evolution of my relationships at that time was gradual, unpredictable and slow. As they say: “There must be a better way!

 

  • Visiting other chapters is a fantastic way to expand your network! However, attending is not enough. Visiting another chapter and shaking hands with new people is not much better than popping into a Chamber of Commerce event. As with many things, it’s all about the preparation and follow through. Before attending, review the roster to see who would be a great One-to-One partner, and make sure those appointments are set before you visit. It’s the One-to-One meetings that grow our network, not the visit itself.
  • BNI is relationship marketing! But exactly what kind of relationship? Friendship? Professional acquaintance? Nope. The ideal is the elusive “Professional Friendship.” Its recipe consists of respect, integrity, collaboration, purpose, effectiveness, effort, and design. We build Professional Friendships intentionally, by design, and within a structured framework. Truthfully, if we don’t apply purpose and effort, the chances of creating the desired “Professional Friendship” by accident are nil. BNI provides a very valuable and unique environment in which this type of productive relationship could sprout up any day of the week.
  • It occurred to me that credibility and reputation form a bottleneck that most hinders the passing and receiving of referrals. (It’s not about you, though) Your fellow member, from whom you would like to be receiving referrals, is laying his or her credibility and reputation on the line when they refer you. We each must figure out how to ease the other person’s concerns and demonstrate that we understand and respect this risk to their reputation. The best tool in the BNI tool box for assuring other members about our ability to protect their reputation is the 121 meeting. Reducing the time that it takes to instill this confidence during One-to-One meetings is the key reason to continuously sharpen our One-to-One skills.

 

As with many things in BNI, there are plenty of best practices to adopt: have goals for the meeting, make it memorable and fun for the other person, keep your commitments, be punctual, be prepared, listen and take notes, etc. I agree with all those things. But I’m not satisfied with behaviors. I’m looking to crack the code. If you would like to add to these ideas and/or discuss, I would love to hear your insights and results. Might I suggest that we schedule a One-to-One?

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