There’s a small news story in today’s FT Weekend about BNI (Business Network International) making an award to the UK’s most successful networker. Step forward 36-year-old Simon Johnson, who is a flooring specialist from East Anglia. The story is on the FT website – but you will need to register to get access.
The story says that over the past 12 months, Simon has generated his contacts £634,233 of business after creating 102 money-making referrals for his colleagues in the King’s Lynn BNI Chapter. It certainly shows the value of Personal Networks that are well managed – Simon seems an expert.
I am not sure whether Personal Networking is just about referrals (especially the measured and recorded type). In previous blog posts I have supported the view of people like Keith Ferrazzi (author of “Never Eat Alone”) that networking is not about keeping score. Also, one of my favourite quotes on networking is from Mick Cope (who wrote the FT’s book “Personal Networking”) – he puts forward the view that a network is about having contacts who support you, NOT that you sell to.
I find the BNI model interesting – but it does challenge my views on networking. The BNI’s “Handbook” – “Networking like a PRO” by Dr. Ivan Misner – makes a strong point about being a “Farmer” not a “Hunter”. I struggle to see how you are a “Farmer” when you keep score on a day-to-day basis. Does BNI – or Simon – get a “cut” of the referrals? Is this a “sale” to friends – or just the generosity of a good networker (with a small “thank you” attached).
I’m going to track down Simon in King’s Lynn – and ask him for his comments/thoughts. It would be good to meet an excellent personal networker – and I’d like to get his views on “keeping score”.