23 years ago, our main business was print sales, in a very different business environment to now. Our main marketing avenues were cold calling and flyer drops to companies’ business post office boxes, (no websites, or social media, which were still very much in their infancy).
At the end of one particularly hard week I had just delivered an order of flyers to Lynn Lockwood the manager at Bayley’s Real Estate Newmarket. Over a coffee we were sharing on marketing strategies and the challenges of cold calling. Lynn invited me to attend a meeting of a group of businesspeople she had joined.
So, a week later found me attending this meeting which took place in the basement room of a pub on Vulcan Lane in Auckland’s CBD. It was dark, poorly lit, the carpets were sticky, the room smelt strongly of the previous night’s stale beer and cigarette smoke, and I was feeling seriously doubtful.
The meeting got underway, and people stood to make their 60 second presentations about their businesses. The lady sitting next to me was Leanne Beard, an architect. Leanne stood and said ‘I don’t want to talk about my business this morning, I want to talk about my father who is shortly turning 70. The family has been secretly putting together a ‘This is Your Life Video’ and as he has been a staunch Labour Party supporter all his life, we are wanting to get Helen Clark (the then NZ Prime Minister) to preface it. Can anyone in the room help in making an introduction to Helen Clark?’.
My sceptical thought at the time was ‘you have to be joking – that someone amongst the fifteen odd people in a basement room in a pub in Auckland would have the reach to get the Prime Minister to take time away from running the country to preface your video!’
The 60 seconds presentations continued around the table and Sheena Haywood the photographer stood and said ‘Leanne, I am doing a photoshoot with Helen next week, I will ask her’.
And so the deal was done and I had my eyes opened to the power of accessing other people’s networks and that asking for a specific referral request could have such far reaching results.
This was the beginning of my BNI journey with our business being founded on referrals from networking and each year between 60 and 70% of our business being generated from networking and the resultant referrals.