Forgive, So You Can Truly Live: via HuffPost

“Forgiveness is giving up the hope that the past could be any different.” Forgive, So You Can Truly Live: ~ Oprah Winfrey via HuffPost

Notes from a conference call with BNI Founder Dr. Ivan Misner

I was on a conference call which included a conversation with Dr. Ivan Misner, Founder & Chairman of BNI (Business Network International.)  Founded in 1985, with over 6150 chapters all over the world and with 143,000 members, BNI is considered the #1 business networking organization on the planet.

Dr Misner shared his thoughts on how professionals can effectively build a business network. Here are a few of my notes from the conference call:

  • There’s no quick way to build a network, it takes time – six to 12 months.
  • Trying to pitch at a networking event is the wrong approach, it requires a relationship. Ask for a show of hands at any networking event. “How many are here to sell?” [all hands up!] “How many are here to buy?” “Anyone, anyone?”  [no hands]
  • Building a referral network is more like farming than hunting. A growing season is required before the harvest.
  • Profitable referral relationships get built through the VCP process
Visibility I know who you are and what you do.
Credibility I know who you are, what you do and now know that you’re good at it!
Profitability I know who you are, what you do and how good you are to the point that I am willing to refer you to people who trust me and my word.
  • While over 91% of surveyed professionals cite networking as a role in their success, this skill is not taught in school. We need to learn this skill set through training, books and experience.
  • The average “networker” spends six 1/2 hours per week in networking activities.  Doing better than average requires eight to ten hours.

Dr. Misner recommends diversifying your networking through multiple streams of contacts

  1. A network of casual contacts like the chamber of commerce.
  2. A network of knowledge contacts, people you meet while enhancing your skills (e.g.. Toastmasters)
  3. A network of strong contacts where members are committed to each other’s success. (e.g. BNI, BRNG, etc.)
  4. An online network like Linked In, Twitter and Facebook.

The interview also included a discussion on sales processes using a script or a “from the heart” conversation.  Dr Misner advised sales professionals to “tell a story” that includes four components.

  1. Give them a fact.
  2. Wrap the fact within emotion
  3. …that compels people to take action,
  4. …that will transform them in a meaningful way.

Getting back to networking, Dr Misner touched on the GAINS system utilized by BNI chapters.  When networking participants share their Goals, Accomplishments, Interests, Network and Skills, it makes it easier for relationships to progress from visible to credible to profitable.

Dr. Misner agreed with authors Tom Hopkins, Joe Girard and Harvey McKay – the unexpected thank you or expression of gratitude is a very powerful way to strengthen and build upon hard earned relationships.  For that, my SendOutCards account works very well.

Watch “The Gratitude Challenge” YouTube video

The Gratitude Challenge: Send a heartfelt card of thanks, gratitude and appreciation every day, for 30 days. I guarantee a dramatic positive response. Watch the 3 minute video about why we express gratitude to those we care for:

Brand Management vs. Experience Management

I have been reading “Clued In” by author Lewis Carbone.

There is plenty of attention today on “brand building,” that is, what you project to affect customers’ impression of your business.

Carbone stresses a reverse approach, literally “customer-back.” It starts by identifying the emotions customers want to feel as a result of the experience.

“You can put  bug-ridden software in a pretty box, put shabby clothes on a big-name model, or spend millions of dollars hyping a movie before it debuts at the multi-plex.  But as soon as customer have their experiences, their word-of-mouth reviews will define your future and fortunes. Significantly, those reviews are more credible than any brand polishing efforts you can commission precisely because they reflect how customers felt during real experiences.  Experience truly is the best teacher.”

Carbone cites Starbucks, Disney and even Roto-Roter as examples of the progression from a customer commodity to a product to a service and ultimately to an experience.

As Carone puts it, “”when businesses place more emphasis on how the customer creates value for the company instead of the company creating value for the customer, customers become free agents, disappointed, disgruntled and ultimately disloyal.” (back to the customer retention issue, again.)

What do you say, can you think of another company that truly provides its customers with the emotional experience that sets it apart from its competition?


October 16: National Boss’s Day

What do people do on National Boss’s Day?

Boss’s Day is dedicated to all employers and provides a prospect of improving the workplace relationships between employers and their staff.  This observance also gives employees a chance to recognize those in supervisory positions.

Some people give their bosses cards, gift certificates, or flowers on Boss’s Day. This observance is becoming increasingly popular in various workplaces.


The concept of National Boss Day began in 1958 when Patricia Bays Haroski, then an employee at State Farm Insurance Company in Deerfield, Illinois, registered the holiday with the United States Chamber of Commerce. She designated October 16 as the special day because it was her father’s birthday. Haroski’s purpose was to designate a day to show appreciation for her boss and other bosses. She also hoped to improve the relationship between employees and supervisors.

Four years later in 1962, Illinois Governor Otto Kerner backed Haroski’s registration and officially proclaimed the day. The event’s popularity is growing outside the United States and is now also observed in countries such as Australia, India, and South Africa.

This is a great day to express appreciation to that mentor, supervisor or boss helping you with your career.

Here’s a way to send him or her a Thank You greeting card.

It’s free – as my thanks to you, a reader of my blog.

Here’s what to do: click on this link.  You will be brought to a web page where you can watch a short video, select a real card, add a photo if you wish, personalize the message, and add the recipient’s name and address.  Tell us when to put it in the mail; we’ll add the postage and deliver this to your employer in time for October 16 National Boss’s Day.

How to “Competition Proof” Your Business with Mark S A Smith


“Do Your Customers Refuse to Buy from Anyone Else?”

Click here and listen to the full 15 minute interview


In this 15 minute episode, Dan and his guest Mark S A Smith, co-author of three books in the “Guerrilla Marketing” series, discuss ways by which entrepreneurs can make their business “competition proof.”  While many business owners cite “price” as the primary reason customers defect to the competition, Mark’s blog includes examples of how business owners create value and deliver products in a way that customers refuse to from anyone else, regardless of price.  [Sign up for Mark’s blog e-mail or follow Competition Proof on Facebook.

Gracias, Merci, Grazie….Thank You

After the holidays, it’s easy to view thank you note writing as a chore, but author John Kralik says that sincerity is the best approach — he encourages people to focus on one true, meaningful sentence about the gift or the person. The notes don’t have to be long, Kralik explains; sometimes limiting yourself to just a few sentences forces you to distill your sentiments.  As for Facebook or email thank-yous? “Things we write in cyberspace are so easily deleted and forgotten … buried by the next 30 e-mails we receive,” Kralik says. “In this day and age, a handwritten note is something that people really feel is special.”

Listen to a 6 minute NPR interview with Kralk, author of 365 Thank Yous: The Year A Simple Act of Daily Gratitude Changed My Life.

In his book, author Kralik explains how saying thank you 365 days can have a profound effect on your life. It can also help strengthen your business relationships. In the popular business book, “Appreciation Marketing” authors Tommy Wyatt and Curtis Lewsey describe the power in becoming The Appreciator, “one who practices the principles of appreciation and gratitude – in some capacity – every day.”  (Check out an earlier post about Joe Girard, the “World’s Greatest Salesman”)

Personally speaking, I need to get better at this and know I won’t start out next week by sending a thank you card every day.  However, I now have my first 2011 resolution, to start at one physical thank you card each week and to increase the pace so, by this time next year, I’ll be sending five thank you cards on a weekly basis.  Who wants to hold me accountable?  Care to join me and regularly thank those in your personal and professional life?

My best wishes to you and yours for a fresh new year of health, happiness and prosperity; and, of course, my sincere thanks to you!

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