As a BNI member there is no better way to quickly build your referral network than to engage in one-to-one (121) meetings with your fellow members. Not only will they be able to better refer you after a productive 121, but you will be able to refer them and their business to your family, friends and co-workers (which can make you look like quite the hero!).

But like every project, it pays to have the right tools before you start the project, so with that in mind, here are the top seven tools I use to ensure productive 121 meeting every.single.time!

  1. Calendar app–I like to start the new year off by scheduling 121s with 6-12 BNI members. The most efficient way to do this is to check calendars either during open networking or immediately following a chapter meeting. I like an app that lets me see my calendar, schedule the time and send a reminder all in one step (I use Google calendar). This ensures that you both have the appointment on your calendar AND each other’s contact info handy.
  2. GAINS Profile–I have mine filled out and I email it to my 121 partner at least a few days before our meeting so that they have time to read it in advance. This also serves as a meeting reminder for them. If you don’t have a current GAINS profile filled out, I suggest using this online fillable GAINS PDF to create a professional profile that you can easily share. If you haven’t updated your GAINS profile for this year, now is a good time. I also take a blank GAINS profile with me tothe meeting, just in case my 121 partner hasn’t sent me one or doesn’t bring theirs to the meeting.
  3. BNI Connect–I use BNI Connect to review the online profile of my 121 partner at least a day in advance of our meeting. I typically jot down a few questions I might have about them or their business.
  4. Cell phone–I’m going to ask you to put your cell phone on silent and put it away during our meeting. Studies show that even the presence of a cell phone sitting on a table causes us to become distracted and unable to fully focus. HOWEVER, because our time is valuable, I will use the Timer feature of my phone to alert us when our time is over. In  my case, I set my phone on “Do Not Disturb” and then set the timer for 10 minutes less than our total allotted time. This allows us to wrap things up and get out our cell phones to access our contacts for any referrals we may have for each other at the end of the meeting.
  5. A notepad and a great pen–I like to take notes while someone is meeting with me. I particularly like to write down any action steps that we agree on during our meeting. For example, I may offer to send my 121 partner  info on a online training that may be of interest to them. They may offer to send me their marketing materials to share with a friend.
  6. Referral slips (or the above notepad)–Although a lot of us have gone to online referral slips, I still find it helpful to jot down the ideas I may have for making referrals to my 121 partner (especially if I can’t complete them right away). This is important for me because I know that the minute I get back to the office there will be a dozen items vying for my attention, I’ll need the reminder so that this referral doesn’t fall through the cracks.
  7. Thank you Notes/Email–I like to follow up 121 meetings with a thank you note. Yours may be an email or handwritten, either is great. It is also a good time to reiterate any action steps that you and your partner have agreed to and set a time to follow up.

What items do you have in your 121 Tool Kit? Have you found something that makes the process even easier or more productive? Share yoru ideas in the comments below.

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.