Home » Today at my BNI Business Networking Meeting, my specific referral request is…..

Today at my BNI Business Networking Meeting, my specific referral request is…..

by Richard Foulkes

I’ve been away in England for 4 weeks and being a confessed “BNIaholic” , I couldn’t go for 4 weeks without going to a BNI Meeting, so I headed along to one in Oxford.

I was eager to see the differences and the similarities. One difference was that it was an evening meeting. In a quintessential country English Pub with low rafters (I know because I hit my head on one when I stood to present my weekly presentation). The meeting ran from 6:30pm to 8pm, followed by dinner. 

This chapter followed the agenda to the letter. The biggest difference, apart from the time of the meeting, is that they ALL said, “And my specific is”.  90% of them went on to name the person and the business they wanted to be connected to in their specific referral request. It was clear they had spent time before the meeting thinking about who they wanted to be introduced to.

In fact, the President, knowing I was going to be there, asked for an introduction to a Personal Trainer in Auckland by the Personal Trainer’s name. Did it work? About 10% of their “specifics” had some kind of impact immediately where another member mentioned they could make an introduction. That’s a good strike rate although, of course, I couldn’t tell if they were followed through on.

However, looking at their TYFCB (which they call, “Thanks for the Business” ) as a chapter of 17, they had recorded $3.5M NZ dollars in the last 12 months. An inference could be drawn that a contributor to this high TYFCB rate of $200k per member, is their focus on a very specific referral request. 

In New Zealand I don’t hear members use specific referral requests as much. It’s a tool we could use better to generate more business. This week we are looking at the why and how of “My Specific Is”.  The goal of this education is to get more members using the specific referral request as part of the weekly presentation and to use it well to generate more business.

NB: include a “specific” in your own weekly presentation this week to demonstrate how it’s done. Think through some examples for members in your chapter.

Related Video:
Specific Is Terrific! – YouTube

A or B?

Which is the better specific referral request from a Plumber?

A. Anyone with a leak

B. Alicia Martins, Building Project Manager at Exquisite Homes.

A is not a specific referral request. It’s an obvious referral to a plumber that we will come across by accident. B is a specific referral request that, if made by a plumber with VCP in the chapter, is likely to result in an introduction.

Why? New Zealand is a small place, it’s more like 2 degrees of separation than 7! Our brains are also trained to make connections, especially when they are led in the direction of the connection. Asking if they know Alicia will automatically make them think if they have met her.

What’s the Value of a Specific Referral Request?

It greatly increases the likelihood of a referral and the likelihood of getting a referral to someone you want to work with.

You’ll get more and better referrals and be more profitable.

It means you have to work harder outside the meeting through One-to-Ones to educate members about the connections you need to get the referrals you want.

Preparation and Persistence

A specific referral request in our Sales Pitches takes prior preparation and we all know what that prevents. Our specific referral request should fit in with the rest of our sales pitch as the sales pitch can explain why the introduction to that person will be of value to them. If our plumber talks about leaky taps and then wants to meet a property developer, it doesn’t tie in.

We need to prepare our pitch AND think (research) who we would like to be introduced to. So, it does take some forethought. They do work better for Business-to-Business companies than Business to Consumer companies. It’s harder for a real estate agent to name a potential client than a website developer. But a Business to Consumer company can be very specific about the clients they want to be introduced to. Like people downsizing in a specific neighbourhood.

Specific referral requests take persistence. They might work 1 out of 10 times on average. That means you need to do 9 to get 1! Not none to get none. It’s a long run strategy where doing the same thing expecting a different result makes sense.


Specific referral requests take preparation, practice and pinpoint pitching but provide powerful rewards.

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