Cys Bronner, BNI Executive Director and CRO (Chief Referral Officer), wants to you to know that you can have greater success with your BNI Chapter and business in general, if you treat those business relationships like a joint bank account. Are you making deposits or just withdrawals?
Hi, I’m Cys Bronner, Executive Director of BNI4Success in the Greater Los Angeles area and this week I want you to know that you can have greater success with your BNI Chapter and business in general, if you treat those business relationships like a joint bank account.
When I was younger a good friend of mine told me that relationships are like a bank account – you have to put in before you can take out. That simplified statement led to a larger discussion of relationship banking deposits, withdrawals and even interest gained that helped me in many ways, including business.
You see, when you enter a relationship – even a business relationship, you open an account with a lot of hope. Hope that it will grow and support over time.
And it can – The key is to make those deposits! Just like anything else, deposits need to be larger or more often than your withdrawals or there won’t be any interest achieved – that’s literal and figurative
I like to deposit by way of introductions. Some time ago, when I was newer in the business world, one of my clients, CK Tseng of Northridge Travel (who was a master networker, btw), took me under his wing and gave me a glimpse into the steps that it took towards positive networking success. I have to admit, that I didn’t get it at first – until he said to me “you can’t go it alone”. Click! The light went one and I saw what he was generously inviting me to be a part of.
C.K. asked if he might introduce me to a Judge that he knew who was well connected and extremely interesting. Of course, I accepted and thought that alone was a major deposit into our business relationship account, but it was only the start.
I arrived at the designated lunch spot, which happened to be the Diamond Princess cruise ship prior to her maiden voyage. CK was waiting at the entrance to the terminal lounge area and the most gracious host swiftly introducing me to the Judge he mentioned and asking him to introduce me to the President of a Noodle company as he turned to greet the next guest prior to our 3 hour tour of the ship and an exceptional catered lunch where we all could connect. Multiple deposits!
Of course, it wasn’t long before I was finding my own way to make deposits into my business relationship accounts.
Knowing mostly men in the business community and realizing that this must be an issue for other women, I decided that I would host a monthly lunch of 5 or 6 women in business that would find each other interesting. No pitching on my part, just connecting professional ladies who I thought had enough in common, did not know each other and would enjoy each others company over lunch. Eventually, I did broaden the invitations to include men who often told me how much they valued that I thought enough of them to invite them to my “interesting ladies luncheon”. I suppose I had made so many deposits that I didn’t even know that it was so named and spoken about!
Sometimes inviting someone isn’t about creating introductions; the deposit can be just as valuable when you honor someone by inviting them to an event that you are participating in. They have the option to mix and mingle, creating their own introductions or just be aware that you value them enough to extend the invitation.
This can happen in so many ways. Roozbeh Farahanipour is a business leader in our community as well as being a BNI member. I’ve had the honor of sitting at his table for various business and community events. His invitations have allowed me to see where I can make a difference for myself and to others. Clearly, his Givers Gain® mentality through inviting as been a step forward for each of us and created a great bond of trust.
My favorite story about depositing into a business relationship comes through a Facebook connection. Yes, one of my deepest relationships came through a network other than BNI. I’m not sure at what point I noticed that Star Tomlinson and I had many of the same connections and interests. She networked to promote her company, The Drain Co., in many of the same avenues that I did and she was passionate about the same things as I was, including the LLS, The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society.
We chatted and sent each other invitations to each other’s events, not just networking or fundraising, but moments of pride like her participation as Woman of the Year and my being honored by my Rotary Club as a Paul Harris Fellow. We’ve done business together for years now and that joint bank account is so big that we’ve invited each other to our own very private weddings.
Can inviting be a withdrawal to your relationship bank? Look, anything can have a negative action to it, but it depends how it all goes down. I think that there is a responsibility on the part of the invitee to show some gratitude, and behave in a way that represents the person who did the inviting well. Suppose I drank to excess – not much chance of that since I don’t drink, but say I did to the point of overstepping social conventions. It’s not going to reflect well on my host when I tell his other guests that I had no idea that the center piece was not edible or speak about them behind their back – that would probably count as a withdrawal from our business relationship bank.
If you really want to make an impression and gain deposits, focus on that person. The most obvious way is to have a One to One and make it meaningful. What do I mean by making it meaningful? Take some time to prepare questions that really allow you to understand that person and their business, take notes and focus on their current goals and business needs. Once you are armed with that information dedicate the following 4 to 6 weeks to finding referrals and introductions to that person. Not just a fleeting thought but really look to being their referral hub during that time. That activity not only grows your deposits, but it creates interest where you become a two-way referral partner. Heck, it didn’t just gain you interest deposits but it raised your limits!
Better yet, why not take a lead from BNI Singapore? Way back when BNI Singapore only had 4 chapters, they also had a chapter average of 50 members. I was fairly impressed and asked them how they managed to fit it into the 90 minute time frame and sustain the quality of referrals.
We discussed a few different aspects (probably best for another podcast) but the One to Ones that took place after the meeting is what I want to share. Since they didn’t serve food at those early morning meetings, members would stay after and pair off into Ones to Ones. They would order crispy noodles and share their rolodex – contact list for those of you under a certain age.
These are great items of focus what would take away from that you ask?
Not honoring the event or it’s purpose. If you are a BNI member, you’re very familiar with the purpose of a One to One. It’s where two members get together and through a planned, structured meeting dive deeper into each other’s background, goals and current business needs.
Not too long ago – at the start of the pandemic, I decided to dedicate time to having One to Ones with every member in our region via our BNI Online™ zoom platform.
I wanted to support our members, reaching out to really help them by creating deeper relationships and referring business to them or simply making introductions after our business meeting.
For the most part, this went really well. There were tons of two-way deposits into our relationship banks! Until <queue ominous music> I arrived for a One to One with a member who was wrapped up in a towel around her body as well as her hair.
I figured that she must have been running late, something happened, etc… so since I wanted the best results for both of us, I asked if she needed a little more time. To her credit, she did apologize, but then … but then said “no, thanks – it’s just us”
Whoa, just us? Is that what should would say to someone else in a business setting? You might be thinking “well Cys, it’s just one of your BNI members that you probably have a close relationship with – get over yourself”
See, that’s the thing. I didn’t have a close relationship with her. As a matter of fact, I hardly knew her. But that experience, didn’t make me feel valued or respected. It certainly made me nervous about how she would show up for any other online meeting.
There are other ways of making deposits into that create compounded interest through Support. Coaching/Mentoring can be an obvious relationship builder, but I want to talk about the smaller, less obvious and maybe even more important things that offer support.
Years ago, and I really mean years, this was way back in 2004 or so. I had officially left my prior region, was working with new groups in Los Angeles and coming to assist the older chapters in Santa Monica who had no idea who I was other than some BNI person from somewhere else.
After a few visits to one chapter that wasn’t responding really well to change – it happens – Maureen Stubbs came up to me during our Open Networking. Since Maureen was “the old guard” I was a little nervous, but here’s what she did …
She offered me a book, saying “Cys, I thought of you when I finished reading this, thinking it’s something you might enjoy and get some benefit from. Would you mind having this book and re-purposing it by giving it to someone else when you are done?”
Would I mind? Would I mind? I LOVE receiving and sharing books! It’s been years since that moment of educational support and I still remember that. Why? Not because I love reading, but because Maureen hit on one of the major pillars of positivity, Show That You Care.
I’d like to keep this on a more positive vein, but there are a few withdrawals to your business relationship accounts that could lower your spending limits, so to speak.
Our favorite song, you know Me, me, me – this could be part of the focused One to One. Where you spend all your time discussing you and your business but do not take the time to really learn about how you can help the other party.
A lack of gratitude can have negative results. Actually, I shouldn’t say can – it will. Remember, it’s never too late to acknowledge and give gratitude.
Asking, asking, asking, then not responding when the advice, or the connection is made? That displays a lack of gratitude as well.
Your best business builder that gives you the deposits and results is by routinely meeting with other focused, motivated business professionals.
Your business relationships create a joint bank account. You enrich them or deplete them. Your goal throughout the relationship (not just in the early stages) is to create more deposits and lesser withdrawals. As a result, the enriched bank balance adds a great value to your relationship and inspires each of you, avoiding business relationship bankruptcy.
Thank you for listening today.
I look forward to seeing your comments and learning more about your relationship banking at BNIPodcast4Success.com
In networking: The more memorable (positive and helpful) you are, the better the results.
Questions? Feel free to call BNI Executive Director Cys Bronner 866-889-3466 or email her at Cys.Bronner@BNI4success.com
Her motto: BNI, Making word of mouth marketing work for you