Hi everyone, I’m Ted Wong, with WSI and I’m a long-time digital marketing consultant. I am also a long term BNI member. For those that don’t know what BNI stands for, it’s Business Networking International. BNI is a referral networking organization with chapters in a number of countries worldwide.

As of December 2023 there were 317,000 members,  over 11,000 chapters globally,  that generated over 14.6 referrals for members. 

I’ve been a BNI member since 2015 and have learned a lot of business networking tips and best practices. One area that I feel that is very valuable but is often misunderstood by other members is the concepts of Power Teams and Contact Spheres.

I recently listened to the webinar hosted by BNI Global called “How to Leverage Your Power Team Now More than Ever”. This was a panel discussion with Mac Srinivasan, Global President of CRCs; Jen Tolley, US Regional Director and Meaghan Chitwood, President of Franchised Countries, and Gina Herald, Director of Global Training.

I believe the information in this webinar is very valuable, and not just for BNI members but for anyone looking to grow their business through referral networking. Before I dive deeper into some of my key takeaways and points of interest from the webinar, I thought I’d start with a definition of a “Contact Sphere” and “Power Team” as discussed in the webinar.

One of the speakers in the webinar was Meaghan Chitwood, and she provides a definition of “Contact Sphere” and “Power Team” as such:

A Contact Sphere is a group of people in a similar group that is in a similar industry, but not overlapping business services or business classifications.

A Power Team is people who have the same target market that is specific. Members of a power team may not be in the same contact sphere as each other.

This webinar was over 40 minutes long with plenty of nuggets for anyone interested in improving their business networking. Here are eight key takeaways and points of interest I took from watching the webinar:

#1) Identify Your Target Market: Understand who your ideal customer is and define your target market. If you don’t identify your target market, it will be difficult to craft messaging that resonances with them.

#2) Use Contact Spheres for Growth: If you are a member of a BNI Chapter, use Contact Spheres as a means to grow your chapter. Once the Chapter is a good size, identify the members in the chapter who best align with your target market. If your not in BNI, make a list of business owners and professionals you already have a relationship with who are in a similar industry classification (such as home servicing, or media and marketing) and meet with them on a regular basis.

#3) Aligned Business Values: Have a good understanding of your business values and ensure they are aligned with the values of the businesses you wish to develop a strong referral relationship with. If your values are mis-aligned it will be difficult to maintain a good relationship and refer business to each other.

#4) Take Proactive Action: Successful people are proactive and willing to take action. Don’t wait for someone else to form a Power Team. As Meaghan stated, “…there’s no shortcut anywhere worth going”. Another quote from Max was “…successful people DO what unsuccessful people are NOT willing to DO”.

#5) Start Small Building a Power Team: Begin by connecting with just one person in your BNI chapter or in your business network who shares the same target market.

#6) Meet Regularly as a Power Team: Meet at least once a month. If meeting in person is difficult, online meeting platforms such as Zoom will help maintain this schedule. Also, have a pre-set agenda. This is not a social meeting. This is a business meeting. 

#7) Build on Referral Strategies: Practice the method of continuous process improvement. Identify a referral strategy for your Power Team and implement a process to pass referrals. During your regular Power Team meetings, share your experiences in regards to the referral process and discuss the wins as well as any potential improvements. 

#8) Adapt to Changing Needs: As a business and power team, you need to be open to change. We just came out of the biggest disruption to personal and business needs in human history. If you are not willing to adapt to changing needs, it will be difficult to find success.

For years, I have been involved in Power Teams at a BNI Chapter. I was either in an already formed Power Team or forming a power team with members of BNI. Regardless if you are a member of BNI, there are great benefits in being in a Power Team. If you are not in a power team at the moment, then there is no better time to get started than today.