Networking 101: Who the Heck Will Give You Referrals?

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Expert Points Out Who You Can Tap, and Why

You're a businessperson and you need business. Advertising and marketing cost time and money you don't have. You've heard that referrals others give you can work as effectively, or even better. So how do you sign up for some of these free and believable referrals? Well, the first thing to realize is that they are not for sale. The second – that they are all around you if you know where to look.

In an effort to shed light on the subject he knows best, Dr. Ivan Misner, CEO of BNI, the world's largest referral networking firm and author of many books on the subject, has recently published a list of the types of people most of us can consider viable targets for referral help:

1)    People in your contact sphere – a group of businesses or professions that complement rather than compete with each other. It's a sure thing: if you put a caterer, a florist, an entertainer, a printer, and a photographer in the same room, you couldn’t stop them from doing business.

2)    Satisfied clients – having firsthand experience with your products of services, they are believers and can communicate convincing testimonials.

3)    People whose business benefits from yours – nobody stands to gain more than those who get more business when you get more business. If you sell workbooks, the printer who prints them for you benefits when you do.

4)    Others with whom you do business – perhaps your business has nothing to do with dentistry or hairstyling or automobiles, but every day you do business with dentists, hairstylists, and auto mechanics. By contributing to the success of their business, you gain their goodwill; to keep you as a customer, they’re inclined to help you secure customers of your own.

“It's amazing every time,” Misner says, “when I see people react to this kind of list. You see them paging through their mental Rolodexes and immediately finding prospective help.”

BNI ( is a referral networking organization, which at last count had over 3,600 individual chapters in 22 countries worldwide. BNI’s Founder & CEO, Dr. Ivan Misner is the author of several book's including the NY Times best-seller, Masters of Networking, ( and the recently released #1 best-seller, Masters of Success (


Michael Drew



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