Today I decided to take advantage of the beautiful day and work out on the front porch. It was sunny, light breeze and very quiet. I set up my laptop, got out my cell phone and poured me a cup of coffee, I noticed just a few little birds chirping. I thought that it would be the perfect place to sit and do my conference call with Dr. Ivan Misner and authors from around the world.
Suddenly, the silence was shattered! It sounded like a birdie gang war! I stepped off my front porch, looked up on my roof to find a group of little sparrows and one little black bird in the middle of the sparrows. Those sparrows were chirping, squawking, and tweeting at him. All the while, he continued to sit on the roof peek in the middle of the sparrows as if he was deaf to their incessant chatter, every so often letting out a little chirp of his own.
As I watched this little bird drama play out I realized those birds were behaving much the same way that we humans behave with our networks. As a BNI Director I often visit many of the groups, some are big, others much smaller. When I have a conversation with the chapters about inviting guest and adding new members, I will hear great reluctance from some of the members and I often get the following comment “We like the group small and intimate.” “We like it the way it is.” “We all get along now.” It is often the strangers in the room who are the source of those dream referrals, it is those strangers who have the connections you are looking for or who become your next best customer. How often do we discount the person not like us, the person who is the stranger in the room?
How do you treat the strangers who come into your network? Do you stand around with your friends and try to figure out who they are, who invited them, what they are doing in the room? Like the little birds? Or do you reach out to make them feel welcome? Do you take the time to build a relationship and add them to your network or, are you networking like the little sparrows twittering among yourselves and ignoring the stranger hopeing that he will go away?