“Don’t Make the #1 Mistake that Kills Most Referral Relationships and Power Teams Before They Ever Start!

January 22, 2013

By Lee Abraham

We’ve all heard the cliché, “The road to hell is paved with good intentions!”

deal with the devilWhether we like them or not, a cliché stands the test of time because it is an expression of truth.  Sometimes the truth is obvious, other times it is elusive and counter-intuitive.

In business networking, the “good intentions” cliché applies to referral relationships, and is particularly meaningful in the formation of a Power Team.

Typically, Power Teams are formed by a group of people, usually from the same industry group, who have the best of intentions. After all, they like and trust and each other, and want to help build each other’s business. Based on the idea that they often work for clients who could be cooperatively passed back and forth as non-competing referrals, the Power Team partners get together to brainstorm and make a commitment to help each other make more money.

What could be wrong with that?

In the beginning, there’s nothing wrong in gathering with like-minded individuals who want to help each other. The problem arises when the initial excitement wears off and the commitments made fail to materialize into results because there is no plan in place to transform the group’s good intentions into action.

Two Critical Steps

In their eagerness to pass business back and forth, Power Teams invariably repeat the #1 mistake that kills most referral relationships before they ever start by skipping over two critical steps in what my research has shown to be the “4 Stages of Power Team Development.”

money stairsI’ll cut to the chase. The first step to building successful referral relationships is to prepare yourself to go out and train your referral partners, or “Bragging Buddies,” to create high quality referrals for you.

During this first stage of Power Team “Boot Camp,” you should have two goals: to simplify the description of your targeted prospects, making it easier for your Bragging Buddy to recognize referral opportunities for you, and to clarify your message of why you and your product or service are special, which empowers your Bragging Buddy give more compelling testimonials about you.

Once you’ve completed boot camp, you’re ready for stage two, training your Bragging Buddy to recognize opportunity and give compelling testimonials. After all, what good is a referral partner who is excited and full of good intentions, but doesn’t know what to look for or what to say?

The Rest of the Story

With steps one and two in place, a group of properly trained Bragging Buddies are now ready for stage 3, getting together as Power Team Pioneers, excited and prepared to transform their collective good intentions into action as Power Team.

Makes sense, right? Lacking a clear roadmap to follow, the vast majority of Power Teams not only skip over stage one and two, they fumble through stage three as Power Team Pioneers and sadly, have no idea about stage four as an Advanced Power Team.

In the end, even the best of intentions unfortunately fade away, leaving only frustration, disappointment, unfulfilled hopes and dreams, and worst of all, a huge stack of money on the table.

Want to fulfill your hopes and dreams? Visit www.moneyonthetablebook.com and learn how to claim your money on the table with an easy-to-follow Power Team Roadmap™!


Body Shops, Panel Beaters and the International Language of Referrals

February 7, 2012

Translating Money on the Table into the Local Lingo Helps More BNI Members Make More Money

by Lee Abraham
Money talks. No translation needed. Currency exchange, yes, but translation, no. Anywhere you go around the world, people know how to trade money for goods and services.

Same with referrals. Regardless of culture, folks in every continent on the planet prefer to do business by word-of-mouth with people they know, like and trust.

And just like each country has its own currency, words and phrases can be as unique as the local cuisine.

For example, in the USA, an automobile collision repair business is commonly known as a “Body Shop.” However in Australia, the locals send referrals for wrecked cars to the “Panel Beater.”

Universal Message, Local Lingo, Global Network

As a trainer, speaking the local language is critical if you want students to achieve maximum results. More than just words, images can also be tailored for familiarity and maximum impact.

As publisher of Money on the Table, Referrals in the Bank along with my co-author Dr. Ivan Misner, FAST180 Press works with BNI National and Executive Directors from across the country and around the world to customize training material for the benefit of their local BNI members. We see this as an essential role in effectively serving BNI’s global network. Not to mention very rewarding and a lot of fun!

Thanks in part to our “Personalized Foreword” program, where local leaders can contribute to the book and get their name on the front cover and local branding on the back, FAST180 Press is honored to report that Money on the Table is quickly becoming an international sensation!

Since its release less than a year ago, the book has been published with local flavor in Malaysia, Canada, the USA and now Australia!

Check out the latest version of the cover, featuring Australian currency and a personalized foreword by BNI Australia National Director Frederick Marcoux on the front, and BNI Australia branding on the back!

In addition to the obvious changes to the front and back cover, the Australian version of Money on the Table talks about “panel beaters” not “body shops” and many other local terms and phrases to help local members of BNI Australia learn how to create Power Teams and as a result, make more money.

Just listen to the scuttlebutt around the BNI coffee dripper… “Members Making More Money” sounds good in any language!

For more information about how you can create a Personalized Foreword version of Money on the Table, please visit: http://moneyonthetablebook.com/YOUR_Namer_on_the_Cover.html

Referral Party: Are You Going Formal or Business Casual?

June 8, 2011

Any seasoned sales pro knows word-of-mouth referrals are the platinum standard of lead generation. Why? Let’s start with higher closing ratios. Then we look at a low cost per lead which pencils to only a fraction of traditional marketing and advertising expenses. Combine the two for a lucrative income stream whether you are selling real estate, massage therapy or cleaning services.

Ask the grizzled marketer how they go about generating referrals and you’ll get one of three very different responses. Among the most popular:

 “I do a great job for my customers and they tell people about me.” Translation: I do not have a referral system. Hope is my strategy. Let’s call this the “business casual” approach.

Another common answer is any number of variations on  an old, and ill-advised theme, “I do a lot of networking and always tell people that I’m never too busy for their referrals.” Translation: You ask people for referrals and sometimes you get one. Sorry to say this is not networking. Without giving an abundance of relevant value first, asking for referrals spirals downward over time into a doomed campaign of begging for dollars. After a while, even your strongest supporters will get tired of hearing from you. My advice: adopt a Givers Gain® philosophy before you further damage your most valuable asset, relationships with people who like you and trust you.

Finally, less common but indicative of someone whose networking activities are aligned with generating referrals, “I belong to BNI” (or some other referral group), is the response of a professional networker.  If creating referrals was a party, this black-tie formal approach to word-of-mouth networking would be the hottest ticket in town.

Givers Gain®

Let’s start with the basics. Generating referrals for yourself begins with you finding and creating referrals for others. So that’s the first step to referral marketing – building or joining a network of referral partners who you like, trust and send referrals to.

Next is consistently making your network visible to its targeted prospects. Best results come from systematic use of simple but powerful tools like a business card organizer, network directory flyer and website, as well as social media to promote the products and services of your networking partners to your clients and sphere-of-influence.

Finally, a networking group that meets regularly creates more referrals that those that do not. Statistics show that once a week is the optimal frequency for a group meeting of networking partners who have made a commitment to actively participate in a reciprocal, mutually beneficial relationship to maximize referral results.

Time Crunch

Unfortunately however, most people do not have the scheduling flexibility to belong to an existing referral group with a regularly scheduled meeting, or the knowledge, resources and experience to create and run one on their own.

There is good news!

While a regularly scheduled meeting is the pinnacle of structured business networking, an individual “free agent” networker can create a more loosely structured semi-formal network and an abundance of referrals, both inbound and out, with systematic integration of an advanced power team process.

So here’s the question:If there is no meeting, what is the system? How does the network operate? Answer: There will be meetings, but they will NOT be regularly scheduled, ongoing meetings with the entire group.

You as the leader of your own free agent network will go to breakfast, lunch or coffee when you can with a few of your networking partners at a time to learn more about each others’ business and cross pollinate referral opportunities by discussing current projects, clients, haves/wants, etc.

Shift Activity from Meeting to Promoting

While the group meetings take a backseat based on scheduling, the primary focus shifts to systematic promotion and network visibility by all networking partners with a variety of tools, including: 

  • business card organizer
  • promotional information on contracts and paperwork
  • directory flyer
  • website
  • social media
  • email “signature”
  • voice mail message

The free agent network fits somewhere between an informal, unstructured, “I go to mixers and just sort of know a few people who send me referrals” approach and the professional commitment of belonging to a structured networking group with a regularly scheduled meeting.

 To clarify this concept, here are the three levels of referral marketing:

  1. Business Casual – No directory, no meetings
  2. Semi-formal – Directory of trusted vendors, irregular meetings
  3. Formal – Ongoing structured networking meeting

Whether you are already riding a wave of referrals from a structured networking group or an individual business person flopping around like a beached fish, frantically squirming to create referrals on your own, the secrets of free agent, semi-formal networking can dramatically improve your results. How? I will be happy to tell you at our next irregularly scheduled meeting of the minds, when our adventure in networking continues…

Are YOU ready for a FAST180?

May 20, 2011

With the new release of Money on the Table, I look back in time and realize that my personal FAST180 began on April 10th, 2008. That was the day Dr. Ivan Misner agreed to sit and listen to me ramble, hope and dream about my idea for a book on power teams.

The meeting had been prearranged. An old mentor of mine told me many moons ago that if you want to hunt for elephants, go to Africa. Wanna surf? Hit the beach. I got the point. Possessed with the notion of Dr. Misner co-authoring the book, I took advantage of his appearance at a Referral Institute event in Scottsdale, Arizona to schedule a few minutes of his time. To be perfectly honest, I had no idea what would happen after that.

The hotel’s large theater-style meeting room was packed. Presentations from the stage crackled with energy as one excellent Referral Institute speaker after another shared their networking and referral wisdom with the rest of us. Pulling me aside and telling me that he’d be swamped during the breaks, Dr. Misner suggested that we slip out of the meeting room to sit down and talk in a quiet corner of the hotel lobby.

The moment of opportunity I had been visualizing in my mind for months was happening… right now! We found a table, sat down, and Dr. Misner asked me to tell him about the book.

I explained that the book would be an easy-to-follow system for building a power team with a new twist on recognizing and converting commonly overlooked referral opportunities. He asked a few questions and told me that he liked the ideas. “Color me interested,” was his exact quote. That my friends, was the moment my personal FAST180 took a turn in the right direction.

Now, just over three years later, the power team book has evolved into Money on the Table, literally, figuratively, and any other way imaginable. This blog was used to flesh out the bulk of the material that ultimately made it into the book. With the book now complete, I’m on a mission to share its lessons, tools and strategies with business people from all industries who are interested in creating more, better quality referrals for their networking partners and of course, themselves.

Last point: If you spend a moment looking at this blog you will notice that other than this current post, it’s been over a year since any new content was featured here. During that time I made a transition from real estate broker to business referral guru and Senior Vice President of Consulting for MaxAvenue, an intellectual property and consulting firm specializing in real estate. Most of the material for the book had already been finished when I made the career switch, and as a result, the blog became a forgotten piece of my FAST180 puzzle.

Until now… That’s right – the Adventures in Networking blog is back! Sometimes you’ve gotta do a “slow 360” and come full circle to complete a FAST180. In other words, with Money on the Table finally in print, the blog has returned as a viable outlet for power team news, ideas, upcoming events and Money on the Table success stories.

Thank you for visiting! Please check back often or subscribe for updates. These are wild and wacky times and I am excited to find out what happens next, as our adventure in networking continues…

Passion Is Everything – CRUSH IT!

March 2, 2010


All entrepreneurs dream. Successful entrepreneurs take action. Lot’s of it. Some are calculated, carefully plotting and planning every move. A rare few bring an artistic approach to business. Guided by passion and intuition, these natural born empire builders always know what to do, how to do it and when to make it happen. One more thing. They really enjoy what they do!

Meet Gary Vaynerchuk, New York Times best selling author of CRUSH IT! Why NOW is the time to cash in on your passion. Grab a cup of coffee my friend and settle in for a good read. The guy has an interesting story to tell.

At the tender age of eight years old, Gary V. operated multiple lemonade stands and hired other kids to actually sell the lemonade. In the eighth grade he ran a successful, money making baseball card business and at age 15 began working part time as a clerk at the family liquor store. Within a few years of going full time, Vaynerchuk grew annual sales at the store from $4 million to over $50 million!

How? By parlaying self taught sales and marketing skills learned as a childhood business mogul. Oh yeah, he also took the family business online with his wildly popular internet program Wine Library TV.

There are several core elements to Gary V’s success. Passion, fun, commitment to family, hard work and being the best in the world at something are a few of the biggies.

But there’s more to CRUSH IT! than philosophy. A master of personal branding, social media and video blogging, Vaynerchuk serves up an easy to follow blueprint for success. That’s right, your success!

I said easy to follow, not easy to implement. One of Gary V’s principals is to identify your passion. So go ahead, ask yourself, are you passionate about something? Do you have an all consuming, burning desire to achieve a specific goal or manifest a life long dream? Yes? Now is the time to get started. Read the book. CRUSH IT!

Sub Sandwich – More Bread, Any Way You Slice It

April 8, 2009


by Lee Abraham


Last time out we looked at the importance of making a commitment to attend your networking group’s weekly meeting. sandwichNot just to blindly follow rules, but to build strong, meaningful relationships with your networking partners that lead to giving and receiving an ongoing stream of money making referrals.


So what happens when you really can’t make the meeting? Glad you asked!


Basic Etiquette 106 – Have a substitute represent you at networking meetings you can’t attend.


The first benefit of having a “Sub” is obvious: it demonstrates your commitment to the group. In networking terms, having someone represent your business keeps your Visibility intact and moves you toward Credibility, showing your networking partners some of the people from your world.


So far, so good. But there’s more to having a productive Sub than just lining up a warm body sit in your chair. For starters, you want to have a Sub who makes you look good.


Remember when we focused on how everything you do or say factors into your Personal Brand with other people, including your networking partners? Understand that substitutes are an extension of you. What they do and say will contribute to where your networking partners place you in the VCP Process®.

So let’s put the pieces of the Sub puzzle together with a few important key points:.substitutes-2

1) Who should sub? Someone from your company is a great place to start. A co-worker, boss, employee or anyone else affiliated in some way with your business is an obvious choice. Other prime candidates include anyone who can speak from first hand experience about what a great person you are. 

2) Sub’s Goal: to help the other members of the group like and trust you by sharing the story of a compelling, first hand experience with you

Although counter intuitive, specific and detailed knowledge of your products and services is NOT necessary for an effective Sub. Sure, the ability to speak intelligently about your business is a good thing, but only a bonus. 

The most elusive and valuable element of the VCP Process® is the underlying emotion your networking partners bring to the table as your “Bragging Buddy” when talking to prospects on your behalf and creating referrals for you. Having a Sub who can speak first hand about what makes YOU special is the best type of Sub you can find!

3) No Compete: Be sure your Sub does not promote anything that competes with a current member of your group.

4) Prep Work: Make sure your Sub is well prepared by explaining the two parts of the meeting when they will need to speak: strategy-1Giving your Sales Force Update to the group and Passing Referrals to other members.

Be specific in prepping your Sub. Outline how to tell the group about the type of referral you are looking for this week and encourage the Sub to share their own, warm and fuzzy first hand experience with you.

As for referrals, give your Sub any Referral Slips you have for the week to pass to your networking partners in your absence. This is much more powerful than the Sub simply showing up and saying they don’t know if you had any referrals this week or not.

Bonus Points: A Super Sub passes a money making referral of their own, either as a customer, or for someone they know who can do business with one of your networking partners.

5) Plan Ahead: Arrange for a Substitute BEFORE YOU NEED IT! Don’t wait until the last minute to line up a Sub, particularly when you know in advance that you will not be able to make a meeting. There are very few good excuses to not have a Sub. Yes, emergencies pop up at the last minute and sometimes it is truly impossible to make the meeting or find a Sub on short notice. No worries. It happens. 

But as the old cliché says, “Failing to plan is planning to fail.” music-gearAnd perhaps more than any other way to go beyond simply planning, is to create your own success by showing commitment to your networking group and having a great Sub represent at you at a meeting you can’t attend. 

Want to jump start your VCP? Join us next time when we step onstage and under the bright lights as a referral rock star, successfully inviting Visitors and cranking up the volume at your networking meeting, when our adventure in networking continues… Follow me on Twitter!

Show Up, Look Good and Be Sharp – 3 Keys to Success at Networking Meetings (part 2)

April 3, 2009


diversity-1by Lee Abraham


Diversity is good. Particularly in networking. The wider variety of business categories, as well as age, ethnicity and just about any other demographic variable, including a balance of both men and women, the stronger the network and further its reach.


Other factors, including dress and appearance, require a delicate balance between diversity and minimum standards. And therein lies the rub. Why? Opinions on dress and appearance, particularly our own, can be very subjective.


Basic Etiquette 103 – Dress to Meet or Exceed Expectations For Your Occupation.


The operative phrase is “expectations for your occupation.”


Someone representing a Carpet Cleaning business is perfectly professional in a nice pair of shorts and short sleeve, company logo shirt. On the other hand, an Attorney or CPA is expected to look like a “business” professional, decked out in a suit or some other, equally natty attire.


Should be simple, right? Listen. Anyone who has been involved in structured networking for any length of time can tell you a story about the slob who used to be in their group, and how that person never ceased to amaze with a sloppy appearance and counterproductive self image.


Do yourself and the rest of the group a favor: do not be that person. decisionLet’s face it, you only have one chance to make a good first impression and you never know who you will meet at a networking meeting!

Rationalizing a too causal look with “Well, everybody there already knows me,” or “I don’t have any other appointments after the meeting, so why bother?” is the teetering point of good and bad decision making. Unlike too many things in life and business, you have control over what you wear and how you look. Take advantage of the opportunity. Don’t be lazy, be sharp!

Basic Etiquette 104 – Be Prepared to Train Your Sales Force

Getting the most out of a networking meeting is in a large part due to preparation. Some of the essentials are your business cards and any promotional material you’d like to use. 

Most importantly though, be prepared to clearly train the rest of the group, your “Sales Force,” to recognize your Target Market for this week and what to tell the prospect on your behalf. 

Waiting for the last minute to figure out your weekly Target Market and how to quickly train the group to find it for you, begs repeating of an old cliché: “Failing to plan is planning to fail.” ‘Nuff said!

next-time-6Sure, there are many other details you can prepare each week to maximize your results from structured networking. We are going to look at two of the most important, regular attendance, as well as finding, training and rewarding a substitute “Bragging Buddy” to fill in at meetings you can’t attend, next time, when our adventure in networking continues… Follow Me on Twitter!