We all know that we should be thankful for our many blessings. I have a warm house, a working car and a business that is exclusively referral-based. But so often I, like many of you, take that gift for granted. And make no mistake, it is a gift.

I can already hear many of you saying, “I worked hard for everything I have.” While that may be true, none of us does it all by ourselves. We are dependent on others every single day, whether it is the teenager who makes your fast-food lunch or the post office employee who delivers your client checks, we all are irrevocably tied to others for our success.

In an effort to be more mindful of how much I owe to others, I have taken to setting aside the first 15 minutes of my business day to thinking about and thanking those who have made my wonderful life possible. In addition to setting the positive tone for the rest of my day, I’ve enjoyed hearing back from those I’ve thanked.

There’s no doubt that our relationships are even stronger now, not only on a personal level, but on a business level too. More and better referrals means that I spend less time on marketing my business and more time doing the things I love.

How can you make gratitude pay dividends for you?

It makes sense to start with your BNI chapter. Make it a goal to thank every.single.member. I know some of you are thinking, “But not everyone has given me a referral.” That’s fine. In fact, you should probably thank those members first.

Why?

Think of it this way. What are some of the reasons that BNI members don’t refer others?

  • They know someone who does what you do.
  • They don’t trust you with their best clients.
  • You haven’t referred them.

These can all be overcome with a well-placed thank you. Referral relationships are built on credibility and trust. What better way to cement trust than to let someone know the value they have to you and your business?

It is so much easier to refer business to you rather than my brother-in-law, when he never even thanks me for all the business I send his way. The same applies to trusting you with my best clients; when I know you’ll treat them with respect and gratitude. Lastly, investing in the very act of thanking someone makes it easier to send them business. I raise their value to me and my business simply by spending time thinking about and thanking them—it’s that easy.

More people will see the value in sending you referrals when you demonstrate your business philosophy in such a tangible way.

How do you thank someone who hasn’t given you a referral?

You start by becoming very observant. Watch them carefully at BNI meetings.

  • Do they arrive early to help set up or greet guests?
  • Do they stay after to clean up?
  • Do they keep their presentations within the allotted time?
  • Do they give quality referrals to others?
  • Do they bring guests?

All of these are reasons to thank them, even if those acts are not directly beneficial to you, they are all important to the running of an effective chapter, which is crucial to every member. You can also thank them for dressing professionally, displaying a positive attitude or volunteering to serve on the leadership team. What matters is that you genuinely thank them for an act that they have performed.

This month I challenge you to spend just 15 minutes a day thinking about and thanking those who have had an impact on your success. It doesn’t matter if you write them a note, send them an email or thank them in person—it’s the gratitude that makes the difference. I promise the dividends will be immense!

PR Chick Jill Bode founded Designed Write Public Relations in 1998. Working with recycled bubble gum, string and duct tape, she managed to craft a cutting-edge, custom PR consortium that works with clients all over the world–including BNI Central Indiana.