NIA Business Networking Technology
A friend of mine joined a local networking group in Houston a couple of years ago and was told he had to attend an orientation class before he would be allowed to become a member of the group. This particular friend is a seasoned business owner and accomplished networker. I promise you that he could teach all of us a thing or two about networking. However, he was told in no uncertain terms that it was important that he be introduced into The BNI® Way.
Reluctantly, he agreed to attend and, as often happens in this big old city, he found himself running ten minutes late due to traffic problems. He showed up outside a locked door. After much banging on the door, the moderator finally made his way over to my friend and told him very pointedly that “showing up late was not the BNI® way,” and that he was going to have to return at another time. I cannot print here what his response was.
Fast forward two years, and he’s sipping wine at home while he’s watching the Network In Action tutorials from his phone—doing things The NIA® Way.
He has been a great contributor to his NIA® group for years.
In today’s world where our on-demand, technology-driven culture has made its way into every industry, the lack of technology in the world of networking groups is mind-boggling. It’s ridiculous and unnecessary to require you to take a few hours out of your busy schedule to learn how to be a good, loyal Kool-Aid drinker of whatever networking group you just joined. Most weekly, early-morning meetings run by volunteers rely on little slips of pink paper to keep track of referrals—both for the accounting of referrals from the collective group and for you personally to send and receive referrals. If you don’t happen to have one of those little slips of paper in your back pocket when you come across a referral for someone in your group, oh well! It’s frustrating watching all of these reports being given based on those bits of paper. Can that possibly be accurate? What if you did happen to capture a referral, but the paper ended up in the wash? Or crumpled up at the bottom of your purse? Or left on a countertop somewhere? It’s just not practical.
At NIA®, we recognize that there is a better way.
We like to treat our members like adults. We encourage you to take our orientation from the comfort of your own home at your leisure with our e-learning platform. Though you may not have those pink slips with you all the time, today it is a sure bet you will have your smart phone handy.
We spent eight months developing our proprietary platform that synchronizes with your smart phone so that you can send and receive referrals instantly. As long as you have access to your phone or your computer, you’re in business. In addition, this technology keeps a record of all of your activity within the group so that you can keep an eye on the value you are creating and the value you are receiving with your membership. We like to say that if Facebook and LinkedIn had a baby—it would look like our NIA® platform.
With a tap of the screen, you are able to monitor all the details of your activity and stay connected with the group at large. You can RSVP for group events such as monthly meetings or supplemental networking opportunities, message members individually, and create your own personal marketing campaign within the group.
Our app gives you instant access to all of the following:
- Pass a Referral: When you hit the “pass” button and add the prospect’s info, three things happen: First, you receive fifty points on the member scoreboard. Everyone in the group can see business is being transacted, which also reminds them to pass referrals as well. Second, the member receives the prospect’s information in real time so he or she can reach out and capture that business. Third, the prospect receives an introduction to the member or referral recipient with both a short bio video and a link to the member’s website. This is one of our most unique and popular features. It’s no surprise that our members find this platform to be so much easier than the old tried-and-true, tri-colored paper of years past.
- My Referrals: This is where you will have constant access to the referrals that have been sent to you. The group leader also uses this feature to check to ensure our members are getting the referrals promised when they signed on. With this function, you never have to worry about losing a valuable prospect’s contact information.
- Sent Referrals: This is similar to My Referrals, but in reverse. This is where you can view and keep track of all the referrals you have sent to other members. This data allows the group leader to easily monitor each member’s commitment to pass referrals to existing members. If existing members are not doing their part, the franchise owners have that information right at their fingertips and can take appropriate action, which is always with the intention of making NIA® the most powerful and efficient networking option out there for business owners.
- Pavement Points: This is where you will monitor your involvement in the group. The more engaged you are, the greater your success and ROI will be. Pavement Points help track the number of physical meetings you attend as well as the extracurricular things, such as one-to-one meetings with other group members, tag-alongs, individual coaching sessions with the group leader, attending the monthly coaching session, or showing up for any other supplemental networking event such as a happy hour mixer. The points speak straight to the member scoreboard, which keeps track of everyone’s activity.
- Group Scoreboard: This may be one of the NIA® team’s best ideas. This is where you can see everyone’s point totals. These points speak volumes. With a quick look, all members can see who the movers and shakers are in the group. Our NIA® members agree that by having the scoreboard, there is simply zero reason to bore everyone at meetings with twenty-five to thirty minutes of everyone standing up and reporting whether they have been good little boys or girls and passed a referral. At most NIA® meetings, less than five minutes are spent on this activity because we understand that today’s business owner is simply looking for efficiency, including in their networking. Typically, a franchise owner will show a quick glimpse of the scoreboard and acknowledge the members who achieved the most since the last meeting. Guess what? This now leaves an additional twenty-five to thirty minutes to do what? Network! You know—what you came to do in the first place.
- Create Connection: This is one of the favorite tools of our NIA® management team. The idea was borne out of the fact that in traditional networking groups, once the group has finished passing around the low-lying fruit, the return for members starts to diminish. It is almost imperative that people are either asked to leave or replaced to make room for “new blood.” At NIA®, we recognize that the referrals from mature business connectors are not just from the people in the room, but rather from the incredible group of people they know. These are secondary referrals. For instance, maybe you don’t know anyone who is looking to buy a house, but you know a mortgage lender you can connect with the realtor in your group. Or, perhaps the pest control guy is looking to hire a new admin, and you know someone who you think would be a good fit. Connections include anyone who you feel can help to fill a need or support any of your group members in any way.
- Group Roster: This is simply a quick reference of all the members in your group. If you are sitting at a railroad crossing and need a quick reminder of who’s who, it is simply a click away. All members are listed alphabetically with their accompanying photo, video bio, and a link to their personal website. It gives you all the information you need to refer with confidence.
- The NIA® Marketplace: This is our latest technology advancement. We realized that as NIA® began to grow across the country, there were members who may have special skills to offer other members. Since existing NIA® members love referring people who they can trust, we wanted to expand their network across all of our groups across the country. We’ve done this by creating a marketing platform where you can post your special offers, and they are immediately accessible to the entire NIA® membership of hundreds of group members. In addition, when you need something for your business, you can log in and see if anyone is offering a special promotion on the exact services or products you’re looking for. For example, let’s say we have a patent attorney in one of our California groups, and a member in South Carolina needs patent work done. The NIA® marketplace creates a platform for these members to be able to find each other from across the entire country.
NIA® will always be about the spirit of giving, but our second highest calling is to keep business in the family. In today’s global economy, we are able to help members anywhere a NIA® franchise is operating. With your help and the help of our advanced technology, we expect that reach to extend to fifty-one states and territories across the US and numerous countries around the globe within the next few years.
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