I go to a lot of BNI meetings all over the world and they are all the same, people all over the world make the same mistake week-after-week, month-after-month, year-after-year. If I could correct this one thing for every member in BNI it would be this: STOP telling me what you do! I get it, I got it, I don’t need to keep hearing it.

My success in BNI is measured by the number of referrals I pass in the chapter as well as the number of visitors I bring into the meeting each week. But members make it impossible for me to refer to them when they will not give me a clue. Here is what I need to know if I am going to identify a potentially good referral for you:

  1. Who are they? Are you looking to meet the marketing person at XYZ company? What is their name? I might know them as a mom at my kids preschool or someone who I volunteer with, but I will know them by their name not by their profession or position they hold in their company. Do your homework, call the company and ask for the name of the person who makes the decision for your product or service.
  1. How would I know if someone needs you? What is going on in their life—are they training for a triathlon? Do they have young children enrolling in school for the first time? Could they be the owners of a new home in a certain part of town? Maybe they have pet? Do your homework and “break down” your clients to teach me how to recognize them.
  1. When I meet these people what do you want me to do? How do you want to be referred? Is it a name and address on a piece of paper? An email, phone, or face to face introduction? Is there anything special that you need for me to say once I do identify them? What questions could I ask to help you have a higher level referral?
  1. Can you tell me a brief story about how you helped someone and how I can find people just like that for you?

The more you can teach me about how to identify your clients and how to open that conversation on your behalf, the more likely you are to get the referrals that you want. Your fellow members are more than willing to help you, in fact they made a commitment to do just that but telling them over and over what you do is not going to help them find you the referrals that you really desire.

All of this takes work on your part, it means you need to decide who you want your clients to be and how they can be identified. Unfortunately, most members do not take the time to investigate who their clients are or how to identify others just like them. Further, few members ever take the time to prepare for their request prior to showing up at the BNI meeting. They only plan when it is almost their time to speak during the meeting, this leaves me to wonder if they do the same thing with their businesses.

If you have spent the money to be a member of a referral group then you must now spend the time to help your fellow members identify possible prospects for you. If you cannot spend the time doing that then you have little chance of getting the quality referrals you want.

Ask yourself, “Who are my ideal clients and how can my fellow members help me find them?”


Keep It Simple,


There are few women better at building a global network than Hazel Walker . Renowned for her straight talk and no-holds-barred approach, Hazel is a globally sought after speaker.