When you receive an external referral from a member it means you have reached Visibility and Credibility with them, they are trusting you with their reputation. There is not enough business to be had if we only refer internally between members. External referrals are the “gold” in BNI and where we can experience true profitability.
The value of internal and external referrals is reflected by the fact that in the CATS (Chapter Accountability Tracking System) scores an internal referral is worth 1 point and an external referral is worth 2 points.
In many BNI chapters you may see 2-3 members that have reached the full potential of their referral relationship, they work together to find each other external referrals regularly and they close a lot of business. You might have members with similar relationships in your own chapter and wonder why they do so well in BNI. This education helps to explain how we can work towards giving and receiving external referrals and experiencing profitability within our BNI chapter.
The underlying core value for BNI is Givers Gain®. While we love to receive referrals, we know that if we don’t find referrals for other chapter members, they won’t be finding referrals for us.
In other words, if members don’t find referrals for each other, no one will receive referrals and the whole system breaks down. It is crucial we each take responsibility for proactively looking for referrals for our fellow chapter members.
On the upside there is much joy to be found through giving to others – so this is a positive and proactive core value to embrace.
VCP or visibility and credibility leading to the possibility of being profitable in BNI should be as familiar as the concept of Givers Gain®. Until another member has reached Visibility and Credibility with us, there is no possibility of finding external referrals for them unless we don’t care about protecting our own reputation.
This is because every time we make an external referral, we trust the other chapter member with our own credibility.
Therefore the first key to finding external referrals for other members is that they must be visible and credible to us, on an individual basis.
Ask yourself, who do you unreservedly trust in your chapter? Do you know what they do and that they do it very well and at the right price? Would you refer your very best friend to them for their product or service?
Reaching VCP with Each Other
The key here is to use their services yourself or if that isn’t possible, have enough intentional 1-2-1s* with each other (not cups of tea) so they are both Visible and Credible to you.
Members often think one 1-2-1 with another member is enough to build a referral relationship but it isn’t. The suggested recommended number of 1-2-1’s to help you enter into a referral partnership with another member is 8!
You really have to understand the type of clients (even the personality of those clients) that they are looking for, how and when they can help them, what and how they charge before they are Visible and Credible to you. It is likely you would have tested them with a referral by this point and given honest feedback on that referral
*We don’t’ have time to go into effective 1-2-1s in this education but there are nuggets on this topic you may want to use another time.
Finding External Referrals Intentionally
In reality, if we are truly Visible and Credible to each other we are probably already finding external referrals for each other. What we need to do is to increase the frequency of those referrals. It’s a case of moving from accidental to deliberate referral generation.
This is usually easy if they are servicing clients with similar needs, if you do a type of marketing, its relatively easy to refer your clients to other members doing other types of marketing in your chapter.
Accidental referrals are where you wait to be asked if you know someone that offers a service. Deliberate referrals occur when you know it’s likely someone will have needs for types of services, and you ask them if they have that need covered. This can be a checklist, survey or questionnaire, or stock verbal questions you ask a client or potential client at the right time in your sales process.
For example, an accountant will have a checklist as part of their annual account review that will ask questions about trusts, wills, insurance, certain costs. Those questions lead to referral opportunities that can add value to the service the accountant offers to their clients.
Givers Gain® – finding referrals for each other is what makes BNI work.
External referrals are the true gold or profitability in BNI
If you aren’t giving or receiving referrals you may not be at Visibility or Credibility with each other yet.
Review which members are Visible and Credible to you, especially those that should be your key referral partners.
Talk to those members about making a concerted, mutual effort to form a referral partnership with them.
Note, sometimes doing this doesn’t work, the relationship doesn’t work, or the partnership is not successful, but when it works well, it can reap large rewards.
BNI University References:
Podcast 304 – Building Referral Relationships:
Podcast 570 – More One to Ones = More referrals:
This week’s Education files: