September is back to school season and as we prepare for the fall, it is a good time to reflect on what do we need to re-learn ourselves. One of the things that I have found over the years is that we become like the people that we hang out with. If we want to be happy, then we should hang out with happy people. In fact, if we find out that we are not happy, then perhaps we are hanging out with the wrong people. So who do you spend time with?
I was at a forming “Mastermind” group in Cranberry Township on Tuesday with other business owners when one of the potential members quoted Jim Rohn “You are the average of the five people you spend the most time with.” None of the potential members of the group was looking for referrals or networking, they were only looking for support – but what if you can get both in one place and what about your five top referral marketing partners – are the adding to your energy or detracting from it?
Finding support is often a difficult problem for small business owners. I joined BNI as a strong contract referral network to help me grow my business by being in front of people that would likely be able to send me business as I would be able to send them business. I had no idea that what I bought into was a system designed to make me a better business owner.
What I found over the three years that I have been in a BNI chapter is that I have been exposed to a group of people that has the ability to give me ideas on how I can be better at my business because they are mostly people like me who are small business owners themselves. And because BNI, like other category exclusive groups, prevents my competition from being in the room we can be more forthcoming about how we do business with one another.
The time we spend with one another is significant – because we meet outside of our ninety minute sales meeting each week to jointly plan how we can find business for one another. If I am truthful with myself, I have to admit that if I was not doing that with other professionals, I would not do it myself.
When meeting with other people that are your virtual sales force there are a lot of things that you can ask of one another like:
- How clear am I about what the benefit of working with me are?
- What are people asking you about my services when you suggest that I might be able to help them with their business?
- Who else should I be talking to about what I offer?
- How understandable are my weekly sales presentations?
In our regular interactions we can also brainstorm common business problems like:
- How do you handle customer complaints?
- Where have you found sources of policies and procedures to use for your employee manuals?
- What are you doing about 401k plans?
- Who handles your social media?
By having one or two of these meetings each week we are able to be much better business owners. We get exposed to ideas that we never would have considered ourselves and our referral partners might have skills that we do not have ourselves. In fact I find that it is useful for me to review my partners accomplishments, skills and outside interests when meet with them. Once good thing to ask one another when you met, and it works at casual networking events is “what is the biggest challenge you are having with your business right now?”
If you are going to spend time with people like this on a regular basis then you better make sure that the people are positive and supportive. When joining a strong contact group, make sure that the people in the room work with you to increase the energy that you have to perform well in your business not detract from it?
What about you? Who do you spend time with? Are they building you up – or are they tearing you down? If you are interested in visiting our BNI chapter and finding people that will build you up, please visit our Facebook page.