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It's Marketing not a meeting

Years ago, I was at a business luncheon, talking to several attendees about what I was planning for the up coming year. It was the New Year, and we were talking about new products, growing our businesses and marketing. I brought up the subject of creating a word of mouth marketing campaign that I would deliver through my BNI chapter.

One of the people in our little discussion group immediately stated that he had heard of BNI and had attended a chapter meeting. This person felt that meeting were a waste time, required too much work and too much effort on his part.

My reply to him was simple. For me, BNI is not a meeting, its marketing! Like most things in life, you get out of it what you put into it. I told him that I prepare my message each week and practice it in advance. I told him how I make sure I get there early and make sure I have a set of predetermined questions I can use to engage my fellow net-workers in meaningful business conversations. I explained to him that I make sure I have a referral, a testimonial or bring a visitor every week to help build credibility with my fellow members. I also told him that after the event is over, I stay and network with other members, either in small groups or in a one to one setting.

He looked at me and said; "That sound like a lot of work". I looked him in the eye and said; "You know it not called Net Working for nothing. It's not called net sit or net eat or net talk about the game of the week. Its' Net Work, and you only get out of it what you put into it.”

I have heard many people say that word of mouth is the best form of advertising yet when it comes time to put for the effort to make it work for them most people only want to invest the least amount of time necessary and that why they fail.

Any endeavor worth its salt requires an investment of time, effort, learning and practice. Without these four payments, no endeavor will produce fruits. Word of mouth marketing is the same. It takes time, effort and practice to learn what to do so you can build a system that delivers results.

I have never seen a person fail, who has really taken the time and put forth a sincere effort to make word of mouth marketing deliver. When I query a person who says, "It does not work", those same people always tell me that, its takes too much time or requires too much effort.

Remember this, your BNI, Net Worth or Chamber event is not a meeting, its marketing. Approach it from a marketing point of view and you have the right attitude to aim for success. The only thing you personally need to add is time, effort, learning and practice. The rest will come to you by being consistent.

If you want to learn, more about word of mouth marketing join a local networking organization like The Chamber, BNI or Net Worth. Subscribe to this blog and you will receive fee articles that will lead you towards success. If you would like to learn how to create a comprehensive word of mouth marketing plan, read my new book, "60 Seconds To Success". It will show you how to do this in a set-by-set manner. Thanks for reading my opinion. I hope to hear yours. Post your comments or write me at
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Making the most of your next Networking event.

Your BNI Networking Summer Social is coming up, are you ready? Here are some tips to get the most out of that next social or any networking event.

Always go to any networking event with a plan. Ask yourself these questions. Who am I looking to be introduced to? What new businesses have I been working this month? What professions often send me referrals? Also are you there to get referrals just for yourself or for other. I will often bring 3 business cards of one member of my BNI chapter and work to specially get them referrals that day. Using these questions should help you produce your list of at least 6 to 12 names or categories of people.

Furthermore, remember that your BNI Social is a great place to invite potential guest to your chapters. It is easy to invite people to a social and it’s also a great way to introduce them to the power of BNI and more importantly, your chapters' network.

Your plan also has to take into account how long the meeting is. For every 10 minutes of meeting time, you can effectively talk to at least 1 person. In 1 hour time, that's 6 people, in two hours time, you could have at least 12 names. It is possible to talk to a lot more especially if you are talking to small groups of people at a time.

Make sure you bring plenty of business cards, at least 50 for big events. Also bring a pen and a pocket note pad. These are all important business tools. If you’re in BNI also bring your business card file. This could be a great opportunity to find referrals. I usually bring two big stacks of my business cards.

Always ask to be introduce to the people on your list "after" you ask them about who are they looking for first. Remember giver gain. Make sure you also ask them who they are looking for or about their business first.

Once you have your list, decide what you want to say as your 30 second presentation. Don't ask for too many categories or people. Ask for no more than 3 at a time. If you get to meet your first 3 you can start on another three. In my 30 second presentation, I usually say something like; "tell me about your business (or who are you looking to be introduce to) and then listen. When it’s my turn, I say something like I'm on a mission to be introduced to these 3 people (or categories). After that most people will try to introduce you if they can.

If you’re looking to get referrals for someone else, remember my 3 card trick. Select a member of your BNI chapter who you have decided to help. Ask everyone you meet this. I have a friend who has helped me out a lot this month, and I want to repay their kindness. Who do you know here who is _____ and fill in the blank with the people your referral partner is looking to be introduce to! Obviously, you have to know who they need. Use this technique at every networking event you attend, and you will always have referrals for you BNI meetings.

Now when attending the event, focus on your list, don't be distracted, stay on task... Don't drink or eat too much. You’re there to market your business, (or get referrals for others) and meet very specific categories’ of people.

With your list of who you want to meet, start working the room from right to left and go through each section of the room until the entire room has been covered, then start over again. In two hours, you should be able to go through the room twice.

Make sure every person you talk to knows who you’re looking to be introduced to. Furthermore, let them know that you would appreciate that they mention it to their referral partners as well.

At the end of this event you should have about 12 names to follow up on. This is not the best place to try and sell somebody your product or service, especially if they don't know you. Take the time to get to know them and build trust through 1-2-1 meetings.

Use these tips at your next networking event and get more business. If you have any suggestions, different ideas or comments, they are welcome. Click on the link below and let us know what you think.

That’s my opinion, I want to hear yours.

Hector Cisneros is a writer, has been an entrepreneur for more than 30 years, is a veteran of BNI for 19 years and was a BNI director for over five years. He is still an active BNI member and follows the philosophy of Givers Gain. He is the owner of several businesses in Jacksonville, Florida. He actively coaches business owners in the fine art of Online advertising, Business Networking and Word of Mouth marketing. He is the president of Website Know How, Inc. a holding company for his business ventures that include online advertising, word of mouth marketing, real estate holdings, non-profit training/support, book publishing, health and wellness product sales and Adventure sports. Hector's new book 60 Seconds to success, teaches business owners how to get the most from word of mouth marketing by using great 60 second introductions. To learn more about Hector Cisneros, Social Media, Online Marketing or Word of Mouth Marketing visit the Networkers Apprentice workshop or my book website at

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