How much time should you spend on business referral networking with BNI Chapter 3 Manhattan?

Whether you’re considering joining our local business referral networking group, or you’re already in a group - this discussion is critical to achieving success.

So how much time should spend on BNI3?

The answer is not “depends” but rather, as much time as you can.

Let’s start with the first and most fundamental question: Why did you join?

There is really no viable answer except, “to grow my business.” BNI3 is not a social club or one of those networking gathering where you come, go and pray to get lucky and “meet someone interesting.” No, if you are serious about working smart not hard and recognize that you need or want to grow — then being a part of what we do is right for you.

Manhattan BNI3 is an extension of your business development activities; it’s an extension of your “sales team.” But, it will not work without the right mindset and commitment.

How much time you should spend on BNI3 can be divided into four main areas, by order of priority: (estimated time is in bold)

  1. Weekly meetings: before/during/after time commitment is around 1:45 hours. The meeting is the “hub” of what we do; your chance to meet visitors, stand up and present your commercial to 30-40 people, and stay to connect with someone in the room who can be a good partner. (2 hours)

  2. 1-2-1s. Depending upon the size of your roster (let’s say an average of 30 members), you need to spend an hour with individual members to deepen the connection and understanding of each other’s business. The number and quality of referrals goes up exponentially when we have a solid understanding of what you do, what makes you unique and who you want to meet. On average, members meet at least once a week for an hour with one other member. Obviously, if you’re in a large chapter, you may want to meet with two members per week. (1 hour)

  3. Define your “Sphere” partners and focus on generating referrals to each other. A sphere is the group of members with whom there is an organic flow of referrals. Your 1-2-1s should start with this group, they are your most direct and valuable referring partners. 1 hour min.
    For example, the Real Estate Sphere may consist of the following:

    1. Real Estate Broker

    2. Title Search

    3. Real Estate Attorney

    4. Mortgage Banker/Broker

    5. Mover

  4. Creative outbound referrals. Pick one member who is outside your sphere, and assuming you’ve had a 1-2-1 with her, go through your email list and LinkedIn connections and identify some people who could use her services. 1 hour.

  5. Chapter volunteer activity. Running an effective chapter requires participation and help from members. This is your chance to be part of the success; highly performing chapters run like a Swiss watch and don’t miss a beat. You’ve heard of “It Takes a Village to Raise a Child” , the same principal works here: your chapter (or the referrals you get) are only as good as the time you put into it. 1 hour on average.

So, minimum accepted time commitment in order to maximize your return on BNI3 investment is: 6 hours per week. And, I can hear the voice inside your head screaming already:

“Wow, that’s a lot of time.” - Seriously? Compared to what? Cold-calling? Spam emailing? Posting on social media and praying for an engagement? Or visiting as many networking functions as possible? (odds slightly better than winning the lotto.)

If you’re an entrepreneur, you’re likely working 10-hour days or 50-60 hours per week. So while 6 hours per week seem like a big investment, it only represents 10% of your week on something that has a higher probability of success than any of the other forms of sales/business development and even marketing mentioned above.

How long will it take before I see results/referrals? There is a direct correlation between the time you spend on BNI (all of the above) and your ROI. The simple rule to follow with BNI3 is: Visibility Equals Profitability - in other words, the more members see of “you” (visibility) the higher the likelihood that they will remember what you do and refer you.

My final advice is to live by the New York Lotto slogan: You Gotta Be In It To Win It and if you consider that the odds of getting a referral that turns into business are better than buying lotto, commit and you’ll never look back.

While this may be somewhat rare, but it happens in every chapter, two of our members were able to secure $500K and $400K in business from simply meeting a visitor at the meeting. For one of our members, that visitor continues to generate new income which now stands at around $600K.

Think of what we call in marketing The Lifetime Value of a Customer - For a Trust & Estate attorney, an average “job” is around $3,500. Subsequent additions/changes to the Will may be $1,000. So the LTV is around $4,500 but WAIT — if that client simply refers 3-5 new clients to that attorney, the LTV of one referral is now: $4,500 plus $22,500 in income. And, all fo that for an annual membership+breakfast cost of $1,700 on average.

So there you have it — you don’t have to Go BIG or GO HOME in business referral networking; you start with “GO” consistently and making the best of the meetings and 1-2-1s. Dismiss the “I am very busy” notion — are you spending time productively? Are you focused on building your business and investing your time in areas that will likely yield consistent and sustaining results?

Happy networking my friend. Have fun first the rest will follow (if you spend the time).