How BNI Referral Exchange Can Help Your Business!

How BNI Referral Exchange Will Work Wonders For Your Business

I recently had a conversation with a new business owner who just couldn’t figure out how to get new people through the door, how to build her clientele, and start getting more referrals for her business.

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It’s a tough go out there for any new business. You can build the shop and products, websites, and Social Media pages, blogs, local promotions, engage clients online – but it comes down to this. How do you get them through the door and buying? 

Being a new arrival in Australia and not knowing anyone upon arrival here was a tough go. Not only was I just starting out – building my portfolio, trying to figure out what my demographic is, what my business looked like (that will be a moving target forever), I had to find people who were in need of my services! So I took the plunge and joined a newly minted BNI Group in my regional area.

What is BNI?

BNI is a business networking organisation with 6,600 active chapters and 160,000 members in 50 countries, it is the most successful business referral organisation of its kind.

Now before you think Im getting all sales pitchy on you, I want to tell you where I was before BNI, and where I am after.

What is Referral Networking?

Let’s start off with what Referral Networking is and how I think it is ABSOLUTELY essential for any and all businesses. Even the old guys have to admit that thier business comes from referral network. People who know you, and refer you to others. It’s based on a relationship of trust and knowledge of your business…they are advocates for you. You are top of mind when they hear someone needs new Headshots, Family portraits etc.In laymans terms its word of mouth. 

When I joined BNI last year, I had VERY few clients, and those that I did have were mostly my friends, but what I did have was a solid idea of who my target audience was, a strong brand, and a desire to help people. In BNI the buzz phrase is ‘Givers Gain‘ and that in essence is how it works. If I give you business, you will return that to me. Now this is not 100% of course. Some people you have synergy with and some you don’t. Such is life. But when we spend time together, getting to know about each others businesses, forging bonds, then there is definitely a top of mind attitude that brings business to you.

The Way It Works

BNI have chapters all over the world. In fact I guarantee there is one in your area. The difference with other networking groups is that each chapter only has 1 person per profession available in each chapter: 1 photographer, 1 mortgage specialist, one coach, 1 plumber, 1 real estate agent etc. By joining you get to lock out your category, and you now have a group of 20-50 members referring their business over to you along with the extended networks they bring to the table. Voila. Pretty much instant business. Your mission if you choose to accept it is to do your weekly 1-2-1 meetings getting to intimately know the other members businesses so that next time you are chatting away at the office, dinner party ect, you have a GREAT accountant that you can recommend and pass potential business to. Thats the Give. Other members are obviously in the same space so you are getting passed business as well from the other members. Do your 1-2-1’s. You are receiving business from other members at the table. You will also have 10-15 visitors at your chapters meeting every week that you have the opportunity to talk to. Every week! It’s your responsibility to see where the opportunities lie. The more effort you put in, the more you can get out of it. There’s the Gain

HeadHunters Headshots MelbourneWhy It works

Taking the time to understand your other members businesses is a lot of time and effort. You meet once a week for BNI, for 1.5 hrs, but then there is the time outside that meeting where you are meeting and keeping in contact with all the other members. Its time consuming – yes- but you are carefully building a network that is passing you business all the time. Nurture, is the key here. You are creating relationships that will feed and grow your business. And believe me, it’s worth it. You could expect that 50-75% of your business come from BNI when you are fully engaged in the process. You will find power teams like Finance & Real Estate, Creative Networks of Web Devs and graphics, Tradies, beauty, coaches and fitness and on. You may find that most of your referrals come from 2-3 members, and that the ones that pass you referrals aren’t necessarily the ones that you pass to, but there will be flow and you will recognise who your greatest proponents are.

Networking & Skills Development

I can’t speak highly enough about how much I have learned and grown as a person and a business through BNI referral exchange over this last year.  I have perfected my elevator pitch (aka Sales Moment), public speaking ability, Networking skills, business acumen thanks to all the great advice, financial flexibility, creative teams I work with…the list goes on. The members are inspirational, I have a fabulous group of new friends and colleagues, and I am weekly pushed out of my comfort zone to grow myself and business. There is also an immense amount of training that goes into its members weekly, monthly, yearly and via the BNI website, Chapter Building Sessions, and the organisation itself that refers members all over the world.

BNI referral exchange is the best networking group that I have ever participated in. And I’ve done many. In fact, I am involved in another 5-10 groups at any given time. But they have difference focuses, more women based, more association based, locally, internationally, speaker and education based, and they all have their merits. But for putting dollars into my pocket, there is no comparison. It’s BNI all the way.

And hey, if there isn’t a chapter near you, START one yourself. There will be regional BNI referral exchange facilitators that can help you forge the waters, start a new group if your category is locked down in the closest group, or travel to find business outside of your area locally…its a great way to do business and it WILL make a big difference in your bottom line.

Good luck and go and Pay it Forward!

 

 

Do you think Your Website Images Need an Update?

Ideas, Images, Infographics, Style and Design are rapidly changing, and you are trying to keep up with a market segment that is pouring more resources and time and digital energy into their website every day.

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So how does your website keep up let alone compete? Why do consumers choose your business  over theirs?

With incredible, creative, relevant images. And its not as hard as you might think!

As a small business where can you effectively put your limited resources into the get the best bang for the buck or for your larger entities your ROI?

Great images can help you drive sales, grow your business and build your online community.

For the uninitiated photography newbie, there are a few little tweaks that can help you retain your clients and start to get longer stays and better more qualified conversions for your business.

What are the best images to use for your business and how do you get them?

THE best images that you can use for your business are images of – you guessed it  – YOUR business! People want an experience. They are BEGGING for it! What better way is there to sell yourself and business than showing them what you do, and how, and why? From a spa style dentist office to boutique restaurant to florist, show what you do best. Have a professional photographer come and bring LIGHT to what your business is about. A second option is to use stock images (istock.com, shutterstock.com, getty.com). They are great. They can supplement your personalized images, but don’t make the mistake of using the same image that the dentist office down the street is using of the girl with the pearly whites…these types of images are overused, impersonal and not representational of your business.

How can you use photographic images to create some buzz?

yelling man image

Its a great reason to announce on all your media platforms that you have relaunched your website. Its free PR! And YOU will be top of mind next time they need a wax, a haircut (before and after for beauty services), financial service, or their car fixed. It’s also a great way to announce that you are committed to improving your business, offer new services, and a reason for them to come back and check you out again. A few more things to consider using images with: newsletters, mailing list, direct mailings, and emails are all great ways to use images to enhance all your fulfilment procedures.

Where to use images to get the best ROI and conversion rate?

Front page of your website and landing pages would be the key ingredients here. When you figure out where people are landing and where you want them to go…you leave them a trail of breadcrumbs (images) to lead them around…

Environmental images and services will have the greatest impact on retaining hits. Great images will bring people to your website from social media, online listings, associations etc. When people are doing their snooping and investigating, their eye will be drawn to the pretty picture, and light spaces first, so plan your media images to draw the eye.

It has to be said. Responsive websites and devices are what you need to be working towards. There is no point in having a great image on a poorly designed mobile device that wont scale properly. Goodbye customer – immediately, and never to return. Experience is everything on mobile devices and 45% of us use them for surfing these days and this is growing rapidly. So there is no point in building a site that sits statically on a mobile device.

Use Infographics!

Coolinfographics.com has a great list of Infographics. Lets make statics EXCITING! When you need to use numbers in your business presentation, Infographics are a great way to go.

tall_infographics

 

 

 

 

(The Tall Infographics design from Randall Munroe at xkcd literally made me laugh out loud.  As he mentions in the text: “‘Big Data’ doesn’t just mean increasing the font size.)

Images that kill your experience and send them running

There are lots of great examples of things that dont work well, and here is the far end of the spectrum that need no explaining: cigarette packages, surgical procedures, awkward family shots…well I think you get the ‘picture’. When it comes to medical services, people are nervous enough, so less is more. Think END product.

Some other things that dont work well would be irrelevant imagery. People want to see pictures of your business. Not a picture of the outside of your building thats located in an industrial park, or a stock image of a pretty smiling face with a head microphone. It feels fake, and Im sure your not in the business of selling what you are not.

Consider that your images need to work well with your website as well. That means color tone and crop work for your banners, pages are places relevantly and they are consistent within your messaging in site.

There are multitudes of things to consider when chosing how to design your business images. But know that a consistent, well designed message and images help you meet the coherent message that you want your viewers to see and conversions will go from a trickly to a pour.

See you online!

Erin Pimm

www.head-hunters.com

 

 

 

Why Should You Use Images, Infographics and Videos on your website?

Images get your website noticed and create conversions

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I’ve recently been asked to work with several small businesses in the Melbourne area that have asked me forthright – WHY do we need to have images on our website? Why do we want to have video? What are Infographics, sliding presentations and movement?

WHAT DOES IT ALL MEAN?

Lets go back to basics.

90% of information transmitted to the brain is visual, and visuals are processed 60,000X faster in the brain than text.

(Sources: 3M Corporation and Zabisco) 

It’s an immediate impression that you are making on your client. It’s a feeling, an understanding of experience your clients will receive from you. Are your images professional? Do they represent your product, your environment, and your distinctions?

 

40% of people will respond better to visual information than plain text. (Source: Zabisco)

Catch them with a stunning visual then lead them down the path. They will spend more time on your website which in turn leads to more conversions. They feel comfortable now; Let’s throw in the HOOK!

Posts with videos attract 3 times more inbound links than plain text posts.

(Source: SEOmoz)  

images for websites

We want to be entertained. YouTube is the best example of this, not only for the best funniest videos, but what you probably DONT know is that YouTube is the second largest search engine in the world. Do you have channel? Are you creating interesting videos that you can now imbed on your website about your companies infomercial? Do you have a fabulous behind the scenes video that will entice further, relax, and invite clients to you?
And here’s the biggie: What are you offering for learning and engagement that will lead your customers down the path towards your business. Videos are a GREAT way to build your expertise, give people information, allow them to trust you, and then set in hooks. People are searching for free information. So many people learn online and if you want to guide them into your company, providing free information to get them through the door is an incredibly valuable resource to your future clients.


46% of people say a website’s design is the number one criterion for discerning the credibility of the company. (Source: Stanford Persuasive Technology Lab)

images for websites

Say no more. Images build trust.

On Facebook, photos perform best for likes, comments, and shares as compared to text, video, and links. (Source: Dan Zarrella) 

Facebook’s algorithm (aka Edgerank) is dead. Keep it relevant, timely, and often. You’re post can be buried in seconds.

“Facebook is improving on its ability to detect high-quality content. In order to best optimize for Facebook’s News Feed algorithm, marketers need to think of social comments the same way we think of content meant for Google and other search engines — in other words, if you want your content to be visible to your target audience, it must be timely, relevant, trustworthy and valuable.”

(source: http://marketingland.com/r-i-p-edgerank-how-to-optimize-for-facebooks-newsfeed-algorithm-61226)

25 million smartphone users stream 4 hours of mobile video per month. 75% of smartphone users watch videos on their phones, 26% of whom use video at least once a day. (Sources: Ooyala and Ipsos) 

mobile images for web design

Your website HAS to be mobile ready. Estimates are that 75% of web traffic is going to be mobile over the next few years. People are moving away from landlines, network cables. Today it’s all wireless and mobile. So if your site isn’t responsive, and mobile ready you are going to LOSE people, dropping like flies if they cant access what they want, when they want it, how they want it. You must be up to speed and designed for ecommerce and complete functionality by mobile, tablet, ipad etc.

Viewers are 85% more likely to purchase a product after watching a product video. (Source: Internet Retailer) 

This is self explanatory on the surface, but also consider your services. Perhaps for something that is a little less understood, or intimidating, or downright scared. Being able to familiarize and becoming comfortable with your products will leave your clients feeling safe in your hands and again leading towards website conversion.

Now go get some GREAT images from your local photographer. It will make a difference.

I look forward to hearing your thoughts as well.

Erin Pimm

 

How important are first impressions?

How important are first impressions?

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Statistics say that the average person will make a decision about whether or not they will do business with you within 6 seconds of visiting your website or viewing your profile, and first impressions are within the FIRST second someone. ONE SECOND!

There is no opportunity to make a second impression and seconds truly do count!

Lets translate this to the digital world and your profile and website images.

Princeton University psychologist Alex Todorov conducted an experiment in which she had people view a microsecond of video of a political candidate. The results showed that 70 percent of subjects were able to make an instantaneus and very accurate about who would win the election…in a NANO second!

So how do we make an impression that is accurate? Here are some ideas:

Intention

You should have a reason for being where you are, when you are. Spend some time considering who you want to meet there and why. Its like previsioning, and its proven that using visualization works towards your end goals. Successful athletes use some form of visualization every day as do businesses,  so start setting aside time every day, pre event and even moment to moment in your interactions.

Adornments

Consider what your suit, watch, shoes, tie, briefcase, and earrings say about you! I know a woman who carries her brochures around in a gold case because she knows how she values her business. Also think about the occassion and location. All require appropriate attire. You do not want to be the odd man out, under, or over dressed. Dress to impress. Im quite knit picky and consider, hair, make-up, nails and polished shoes part of the equation at every meeting I might take.

Body Language

Be open open open. There isn’t much more of a kiss of death than arms crossed in front of you, or standing face to face at an event that says ‘I’m closed off to you”. The next person that walks by could be a potential client, boss, or business partner. Stand at right angles, keep your circle open for newcomers looking to break in, be aware of your posture, how you walk (watch the high heels ladies), make eye contact, have a firm handshake (I cant TELL you how many wet fish I get), and be confident. Your attitude most CERTAINLY shines though in your personal presentation.

Pick Your Good Days

Lord knows we all have em…the funk, the grump, the tired impatient days. So…if you are having one of these, make a choice. Go do something that will get you out of it (nice run in the park, yoga, meditation, a glass of wine on the beach) or simply stay home. If you make a bad first impression (and people will read it on you in a nano second and run) there is little or no recourse to change that.

Get Interested

People want to be heard. The more you ask, the more they will genuinely think you are interesting as well. They may focus the whole time on themselves, but YOU just made a great impression on THEM by listening. Then you can kill them with your wit and gregariousness when you have coffee next week to discuss opportunities. Seek first to understand, then to be understood.

And you’re off…good luck and happy networking!

 

By Erin Pimm