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Episode # 180   Ivan Misner

About The Episode:

Today, Natalie Ledwell speaks with Dr. Ivan Misner, the founder & chairman of BNI, the worlds largest business networking organization. Ivan explains that years ago he worked as a managing consultant, but while building his personal list of referrals, he discovered something shocking. Ivan realized that most high level, educated entrepreneurs he was working with didnt know the correct way to network. During the show, Ivan discusses the importance of networking for a successful business but still this skill is not taught in schools around the world. Today, Ivan is dubbed the 'Father of Modern Networking' and is the leader of the largest business networking organization, with 6,300 groups in more than 50 countries around the world. Ivan reveals the number one most important thing to remember when networking and explains why building relationships is vital for success and profitability.

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Episode # 180 Ivan Misner

Natalie: Today on the show I'm speaking with Dr. Ivan Misner who is the founder of BNI which visits networking groups all over the world. He talks about luck versus law of attraction and the number one most important thing you should remember when networking. So, stay tuned.

Natalie: Hi! I'm Natalie Ledwell and this is The Inspiration Show. And today my special guest is Dr. Ivan Misner. Hi! Dr. Ivan, how are you?

Ivan: I am doing great and please just call me Ivan.

Natalie: Oh, sweet! Okay! I will definitely do that. Now, it is an absolute pleasure to have you here on the show cause you are a legend of sorts and have accomplished quite a lot in your lifetime. So, what we might do is to start with your background which is got led you up to where you are today.

Ivan: Well, I founded an organization called BNI, Business Network International. BNI has 6,300 groups, in more than 50 countries around the world. I'd like to tell you that I had these vision of an international organization when I started BNI, but the truth is I was looking for some referrals for my consulting practice. I was a management consultant, my doctor work is an organizational behavior, and I put together some people I trusted and they trusted me, and we agreed we would refer each other. Someone came to that first group who couldn't join because from the very beginning we only took one person per profession. Her profession was represent age, she asked if I'd help her open up another group, I said, "No, this isn't what I do, I'm a business consultant" and she said, "Hey, this is sort of like consulting, you know it would be helpful for me" and so I said, "Okay", we opened up a second group. Two people came to that second group who couldn't join and both of them said, "Wow! This is great. I could get a lot of business out of this if you help me open up my own group, I'll bring 20-30 people". I said, "Well this isn't what I do", they said, "You know, it would help", I said, "Okay". So, I opened up two more, three people came who couldn't join, two and one and one on the other. So, the thing just snowballed, we ended opening 20 groups the first year by accident. And it was at that point, where I did something that I've been doing for a few years between Christmas and new years of every year, I go away, usually to the mountain side, just kind of reflect back on, "What happened last year? And what do I plan on doing next year? What am I gonna different?" And I realized the struck a cord in the business community that I didn't expect and that cord was that we don't teach anyone in colleges and universities about networking. We don't teach people, you people bachelors degrees in business and they don't have a clue how to network, yet, a survey I did of 12,000 people said, 92% of the respondents said that networking played a role in their success, 92% Natalie, when was the last time you saw 92% of any group of people ever agreed to anything?

Natalie: I don't think I ever have.

Ivan: No, and yet we don't teach these in colleges and universities. At that point that I said, "Well, I really struck a chord here. I think there's a need that I knew I had and I knew some of my friends had, but I didn't realized pretty much everyone seems to have that." And that was really the launch of the BNI strategy to become national and now global.

Natalie: Right. I know. What an amazing journey. Actually I was aware of BNI when I was back in Australia and I had a local coffee franchisers. It such a fantastic group to be involved with. And that's the thing, actually I had this discussion the other day about with college students, networking and sales seems to be like one of those skills that you could always use. I mean you use it in every business, you use it in every walk of life and so, they're really important skills to pick up.

Ivan: But then you said sales, right?

Natalie: Yes.

Ivan: Okay. Now, how many courses are there at colleges and universities on closing techniques in sales? Almost none.

Natalie: Yes.

Ivan: Right. So, you hit on the other thing that is not being thought in colleges and universities. Kids come out with their bachelors degree and they don't know how to sell anything. And so, the first thing they have to do is go to a O'Brien, Tracy seminar on how to sell because they have a degree on business but they don't have a clue how to sell. These are the kinds of things that we don't teach in university and I say that having been an adjunct faculty member at a state university here in California for almost 20 years. And so, now I'm a board of trustees for universities. So, I feel like I'm someone who understands universities and yet I can't get universities to teach it.

Natalie: Yes. It's a challenge, isn't it? Cause we're talking about all our success training and our success knowledge that we're trying to instill in children as well. And I know that you actually have a lot of knowledge on the whole success track as well.

Ivan: Well, yeah. I wrote a book called Masters of Success, and I really enjoyed doing that. I think the central theme from that book is, "Success is the uncommon application of common knowledge." And here's why I came to that and I'll describe it a little bit more. I started asking the average business person, entrepreneurs, people that are BNI, or that are business associate, "What's the secret to success?" And they generally said the things like, "Well, you know having clear cut goals, vision, using systems, social capital related things like people's skills" these were the kinds of things that they mentioned. So, then I started asking really, really successful people, some of the big names that we interviewed or we did stories from, like Buzz Aldrin, the astronaut or Erin Brockovich and of course Brian Tracy and Jack Canfield and others. We asked them and you know what they said?

Natalie: What did they say?

Ivan: Goals, visions, system, social capital, passion, then you know, all the same exact stuff. Now, I thought that was really interesting, so, I was still teaching under graduate school and so, I started asking college students, under graduate college students, kids whip behind the ear, never had a full time job. Asked them what the secret to success, you know what they said?

Natalie: What?

Ivan: Goals, visions, system, passion. They gave me the exact same list, except for one thing, they did say luck. So, here's my theory on sustained success and luck. The harder you work, the luckier you get. So, other than luck, students gave me the exact same list that the mega millionaires, the very well known gave me, that the average business person gave me. So, here's the question, "If we all know what it takes to really be successful, why is it that we're not all as successful as we would like to be?" I think the answer to that is that really success is the uncommon application of common knowledge, because we all kind of know that it takes passion and goals, and vision and system, and social capital skills, that are few of the things, some combination of those to be successful, we don't know that. But what we don't do is the uncommon application of that knowledge, we don't apply it in a way that it hasn't been done before or with a passion that beats the competition, and I think that's really the core of becoming successful.

Natalie: Or consistency, like having a second nature so that it's just like, you're not even thinking about it, this is just what you do, this behavior.

Ivan: So important. I tell people for years, do six things a thousand times, not a thousand things six times. Find a handful of things that you believed work for sure or other experts have told you worked, you have some experience or you know that to work for some reason and then do it a thousand times. The problem is that entrepreneurs tend to be a little ADD you know, little expression, "oh oh my goodness", "oh there's a bright shiny object, oh there's a bright shiny object." And they go off on all these bright and shiny objects rather than taking an idea that's known to work and doing it over and over and over again.

Natalie: Yeah. You know, I wanna ask you about luck, cause I actually don't believe in luck. I don't believe in luck. I think that now, knowing a lot of the principles of law of attraction and how that works, I think that that place is more into play than say, luck. What do you think?

Ivan: I absolutely agree with you. You know everyone gets a little lucky break here and there but generally, that luck happens because they positioned themselves in some way. I had a guy who said to me, "You know, I've gotten some great referrals taken back to networking which play wheelhouse, I've gotten some great referrals but they've all been damned luck. Describe more of them to me. And he said, "Well, I got a referral to this person that ended up being this gigantic client." And I said, "Great! Who gave you the referral? Give me the name." He gave me the name. I said, " Where did you meet the person?. "Oh! He was a part of the network group that I belong to." And I said, " Great! And, How often do you go to that networking group?". " Oh! It's a weekly meeting". And how many years were you a member? " 3 years". And then he started to see... "THERE WAS NO LUCK" . That wasn't lucky. You went to a 150 meetings. How many other clients did you get as part of that? And then he started naming off all the other referrals. I said, " There's no luck involved. The harder you work, the luckier you get." This is why people win the lottery. OK! That's luck, I give you that. But, how many times did you hear about people that won the lottery and lost it all.

Natalie: Yeah. You know what, more often than not.

Ivan: Yeah.

Natalie: More often than not.

Ivan: You're absolutely right. Why is that happening? Because they never developed the skillset of wealth. Or, they didn't surround themselves with people who got those skillset. And so, they continue to do the things that they've always done but now they've got a lot of cash and they blew through it. Very very quickly so, luck is very, in my opinion, very little to do with long term sustain success.

Natalie: Exactly! Alright. Now, I know that we're getting close to end of time but I wanted to think that networking is really your well health. What is probably the number one most important thing people should remember if they had networking effectively?

Ivan: Okay. So, I'll give you one but I'll have to say that the number one secret to success in networking is, that there is not one secret. There are many things, it's like a recipe, but I'll give you one concept, it's the foundation of everything I teach, it's called the VCP process, stands for Visibility, Credibility, Profitability, VCP. First, you have to be visible in the community. People have to know who you are and what you do. And this is a chronological process, so, you have to go from visibility to credibility. Credibility is where people know who you are, what you do, they know you're good at it. Then, you go from credibility to profitability, where people know who you are, they know what you do, they know you're good at it and they're willing to pass you referrals on a long term reciprocal basis. And so, the VCP process is key in building the foundation for long term success at networking, what tends to happen is that people meet one another at networking events, so, they go, "Hi, Natalie. My name's Ivan, we should do business." And they try to jump over visibility, you maybe never see me again or you haven't met me before and yet I'm asking you to do business with me, and I'm jumping over visibility, I'm jumping over credibility, I'm trying to get right the profitability. I wrote a book with Hazel Walker and Frank De Rafelle called The Business Networking and Sex.

Natalie: Right.

Ivan: Not what you think, men and women are having network. And we call that jumping over visibility, over credibility, we call that premature solicitation, which you don't wanna say fast, three times, it will get you in trouble. That's where you meet somebody and you try to jump right into doing business. Listen, networking is all about relationships. And if you understand that it's about going through the VCP process and relationships, you understand that it's not what you know or who you know, it's how well you know each other that really cares.

Natalie: Absolutely! Hear, hear. Ivan, thank you so much for spending time with us today. You have been an absolute wealth of information which I know that you would be. Now, I'm glad that we actually got to meet in this respect. So, look, if people wanna find out more about you and the work that you do or possibly BNI, where can we send them?

Ivan: Well, our website is There you can find out what countries we're in and what cities and what not. So, is the global website. Also, if your viewers would like to have access to a lot of content that I've written, they can go to my blog at I've got over 500 blogs up there, so, years worth of content that so valuable for entrepreneurs, business people.

Natalie: Right. And guys, if you click on the banner to the side there, you can go straight to Ivan's blog from there. And if you wanna find out about networking, it's, correct?

Ivan: Great. Yes. Thank you, Natalie.

Natalie: Now guys, I encourage you to share this video and all the information in it, and you can do that by clicking the Facebook and the Twitter share buttons above. And if you haven't done so already, make sure that you put your email on the box above there, I'd love to send you my Manifesting with the Masters Video E-Course. It has masters like Bob Proctor, Joe Vitale, John Assaraf. It's valued $87 but I'd love to send it to you for free. So, make sure you put your email on the box over there to get that. So, until next time, remember to live large, choose courageously and love without limits. We'll see you soon.

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