Expanding Your Network with BNI

All loan originators wish they had more referrals and expanding your network is one proven way to develop a strong referral pipeline. Participating in a referral group such as BNI is a key strategy that has worked for many originators. It requires commitment and patience, but is well worth the investment.

Cathy Warshawsky, Bay Area Loan, Inc., San Jose, CA, has been a BNI member for nine years and is currently on the leadership team as the Vice President of her San Jose area chapter. She has seen the BNI benefits first-hand. “It’s been good for my business; I have received a lot of referrals,” she said.

During the last two years, Warshawsky has developed a referral-only business and estimates that approximately 25 percent of her current volume is generated from BNI contacts.

The BNI concept is simple. Local chapters include an average of 35 members—each representing a different profession—who meet weekly to share referrals with each other. “These are strong referrals rather than general leads,” said Warshawsky. “We provide the information that sets our fellow members up for success.”

While members are asked to provide a specific number of referrals every week, they may offer more at one meeting and fewer at the next gathering. “The concept is based on ‘givers gain,’ meaning that the purpose is to give referrals without worrying about receiving an immediate return; knowing that you will get your referrals as well,” said Warshawsky. “There is definitely a long-term benefit. For example, I continue to receive referrals from BNI contacts I made several years ago.”

The meetings also include educational presentations and infomercials that enable members to share more information about their jobs.

In addition, members are encouraged to spend “one-on-one” time with each other to expand their professional relationships. “Whether at lunch or some other situation, this offers a chance to get to know people away from the business environment,” she said. “Of course, we also meet at members’ work sites to see how they do business, which gives you even greater insights about the type of people who may be interested in their particular service.”

Visitors are encouraged to attend meetings to see how they can benefit from BNI membership. To learn more about BNI and find a local chapter, visit www.bni.com

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