Using LinkedIn To Generate Referrals And Visitors In BNI

As the incoming president of Manhattan BNI 7, I was trying to think of ways to help my chapter and remembered what BNI Assistant Director and former Manhattan BNI 7 president, Lauren Simpson said at a Leadership Training session about LinkedIn and using it as a tool to connect with other professionals.

In the upper right hand corner of a LinkedIn page to the right of the “people” search tool is an Advanced search button that if you click it, it brings you to another page with greater search capabilities. There you can enter key words and further limit your results by a radius of say ten miles from a certain zip code, thus localizing those results.

At one of our Chapter 7 meeting, a member, an image consultant and personal stylist said she was looking for Matchmakers as referrals and possible power partners, (power partners being people who can be an ongoing source of referrals). This prompted me to search for Matchmakers within a ten mile radius of zip code 10022 in Manhattan.

Once the information was entered and the radius filter set, I saw that there were several pages of results, the first results being those people within the first few degrees of my personal LinkedIn network. This can be handy if there is an immediate connection or link between you and your prospective referral. If there is, you can ask your connection for an introduction and go from there. If not, you can try an e-mail or a phone call assuming you have that information available. In my case, out of a list of about 6 potential prospects, none were within the first degree of my LinkedIn network so I came up with this simple e-mail asking not only if my member can contact them, but I also invited the prospect to learn more about BNI and even come to visit the chapter:


Hello (first name):

I found your profile on LinkedIn. I am the president of Manhattan BNI Chapter 7 and one of my members who offers image consulting and personal styling is looking for an introduction to someone in your profession. Perhaps you would be able to help each other. In any event, her name is (full name of member). Please let me know if I can provide (first name of member) your information and have her contact you.

As well, let me know if you would like to learn more about BNI 7 and/or visit as my guest.

Thank you,

Bill Allen


Notice I don’t give out my members’ info but ask if I can have her contact them as this shows their seriousness and willingness to receive the call and it also confirms that this is an actual referral to my member.

Of the e-mails I sent out, three did not respond and the other 3 responded favorably that they would like to be contacted and one of those also checked out our BNI 7 website, found another member she wanted to speak with and then visited the chapter as my guest the following week.

As well, Chapter 7 like many other BNI Chapters, is always looking to grow so I thought why not do a search for professionals that are not currently represented in our group. In this instance you can do a similar search to the one above and use an e-mail or phrase like this when you speak with them:


Hello (first name):

I found your profile on LinkedIn. I am the president/member of Manhattan BNI 7 and we are looking for a (their profession) to refer business to. Please let me know if you would like to learn more about BNI 7 and/or visit as my guest.

I look forward to hearing from you.

Thank you,

Bill Allen


Again, Lauren Simpson was kind enough to suggest the idea behind this simple, but very effective phrasing which she would use at networking events and cocktail parties. And from this technique alone this year I’ve had 5 or 6 visitors to my chapter.

I don’t mention that we meet every Wednesday at 7 a.m. in the morning or give any further details unless they express a real interest in visiting and then if the seem hesitant I say “come for a visit, I can’t guarantee this will be for you but I can say you will like our group and you will have a good time and then you can decide if it’s something you want to do. There’s no obligation to join and it won’t hurt to visit once.” This gives them an out but it also piques their interest that they should at the very least, check out the scene.

This networking technique does take a bit of time to sift through the search results, and in some instances there is limited contact information available, but many LinkedIn profiles do have company or personal website links which will provide the contact info you’ll need. Try it, and feel free to use and personalize the e-mail templates provided. If the prospects don’t respond, move on, if they do, great! But remember, if you don’t ask, the answer will always be no. Keep at it, it will work eventually and the time you invest will benefit your fellow BNI members which in turn will benefit you. For as we all know, Givers Gain!

Best of luck!

Bill Allen

Owner of The William C. Allen Insurance Agency
President of Manhattan BNI 7


Q3030 Becomes First Urban Network On Web TV

Q3030 Networks Connects With WOOMI And DIVX TV

Partnership Makes Q3030 The Biggest Urban Network On Web TV

In January 2011, Q3030 Networks an Atlanta based, new broadcast media network has partnered with Woomi and DivX TV to launch on 1 Million Samsung web-enabled HDTV’s in the UK and 1 million LG blu-ray players in the US. With this launch, Q3030 has officially become the first Urban network on Web TV. Currently the network is broadcasting a music video show called Q3030 Hip Hop and is partnering with production partners such as Skee TV, Dragonfruit Studios, Clarendon Entertainment, Jermaine Dupri and others to reveal a host of premium urban entertainment.  The re-launching of the network’s flagship series, “This Is Glam” is also scheduled for later this year.

Full Release here:

Shadow And Act Debuts New Digital Filmmaker Showcase


Shadow and Act, the popular black cinema blog, today announced an alliance with CEI Media Partners to debut the Shadow And Act Filmmaker Showcase.  The Showcase is an online short film competition where viewers vote for their favorite films and the winning filmmakers receive cash prizes.
Participating films will be streamed exclusively on the Shadow and Act site during the first 10 days of its qualifying round.  After that, films will be syndicated to a network of affiliated websites to expand its potential audience and build a fan base for participating filmmakers. Each qualifying round winner receives $1,000 and the final round grand prize winner receives an additional $4,000. Winners will be determined by the number of votes they receive in each round.  Among non-winning entries, one film will be announced as the popular winner at the end of the season based on cumulative votes received and awarded $1,000.
Submission deadline for the first qualifying round is March 25, 2011.

Read full release here;



WITNESS Details Al Jackson’s Rise From Chicago’s South Side To Paris

WITNESS Details Al Jackson’s Rise From Chicago’s South Side To Paris


W. Alvin Jackson (known as Al) was part of a handpicked team in the late `80s, under the direction of Lee Iacocca, to re-launch Chrysler in every major country in Europe, Asia Pacific, the Middle East and Latin America.  While in college and after graduating, he was offered his first real job by the Ebony/Jet publisher, John H. Johnson, who became one of his mentors.  At the age of 16, he shook hands with the King of Sweden, as a member of the historic “53 Little Ambassadors from Chicago.”  His memoir, “Witness,” connects his real world experiences to the teachings of the bible and provides a fresh perspective on single-mothers, faith, family and the struggle to survive living on the South Side of Chicago during the `50s.
Read full release here



Foursquare As A Networking Tool

"Mayor" badge (IRL)
Many of my “serious minded” business colleagues  laugh at location-based services such as Foursquare. What they refuse to acknowledge is that there is more to Foursquare than checking in and becoming a mayor.  It’s a tremendous way to connect with someone.

With social media, we all have more friends now.  But some of these friends are only social media friends – you have never talked with these people, you don’t know their nicknames and if some of them walked into your office right now, you wouldn’t even recognize them. But you probably “friended” them or are following them for a good reason.

I had some  client news that I thought was appropriate for someone whose body of work I know via social media.  We don’t know each other, but we know of each other.  I didn’t have this person’s phone number or email address.  And I am not comfortable with @reply-ing a pitch on Twitter in order to get someone’s attention.  But as I was scrolling through Foursquare to see where some of my “friends” were hanging out, his avatar appeared.  I almost forgot that we are Foursquare friends. I clicked on his entry and scrolled down to his contact info.  Whaddya know – his email, text, and phone were listed.  So, I reached out.

If I was not goofing around on Foursquare, the  connection would have been harder to make.  Yes, there are valid arguments that some of  these new tools are distractions.  But if you understand what your business needs are and apply that as you  examine each tool, you can find reasons to sign up and give the tools a once-over.

So ask yourself, are you being stubborn or are Foursquare and similar programs really not helpful for your biz?


Shameless plug:  Foursquare founder Dennis Crowley and I are featured in the same issue of Entrepreneur.
Hey, they put me on the cover of Entrepreneur magazine! @chelsa is psyched cause she gave me that haircut! Ha!