What They Don’t Teach in Business School about Networking Can Hurt You

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Higher education often skips teaching the importance of referral business.

It is predicated on the age-old idea of ‘what goes around comes around.’ If I help you, you'll help me and we'll all do better as a result of it.

All over the country, business schools are preparing the next generation of professionals to enter into careers directing multi-million dollar advertising campaigns or investing funds for Fortune 500 companies. But many of today’s best schools are neglecting the easiest and best way to secure new business – referral marketing.

While students often leave business school with skills to manage numbers and ideas, their curriculum often under-emphasizes the people skills key to this type of marketing. “Generating referrals,” says Dr. Ivan Misner, the founder of the world’s largest networking organization, “calls for a commitment to devote a certain amount of time and effort to building relationships that will pay off in increased referrals.”

Misner should know – he is the CEO of BNI (Business Network International), an organization dedicated to the systematic cultivation of word of mouth business.

Where to start? Misner, also a business professor at Cal Poly in Pomona, CA, suggests identifying and categorizing your referral network members. These include:

  • People in Your Contact Sphere
  • Satisfied Clients
  • People Whose Business Benefits From Yours
  • Others with Whom You Do Business
  • Staff Members
  • People to Whom You’ve Given Referrals

Next, nurture these relationships by keeping in contact with important members of your network.

Also, come up with ways to give meaningful referrals to your contacts. “Our philosophy is ‘Givers Gain,’” Misner explains. “It is predicated on the age-old idea of ‘what goes around comes around.’ If I help you, you'll help me and we'll all do better as a result of it.”

BNI (http://www.bni.com) is a referral networking organization, which at last count had over 4,000 individual chapters in 25 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, (http://www.MastersofNetworking.com) and the recently released #1 best-seller, Masters of Success (http://www.MastersofSucces.biz).

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Michael Drew

850-747-8188

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