How Referrals Can Grow a Business – Braith Bamkin

How Referrals Can Grow a Business – Braith Bamkin

In business everyone wants to make more sales or money!  

Many believe sales is difficult. That you need to do your ABC’s (always be closing) and looking for new customers.  

But there is a much more productive way to generate opportunities to sell and grow your business.  In today’s show my guest Braith Bamkin shares how referrals can grow a business.

But before we start, here’s a bit about Braith…

Braith has several degrees, including Psychology and Marketing and has worked for organisations such as Nokia and Telstra.

These days Braith is a speaker, trainer AND the Executive Director of 2 successful BNI regions in Australia.  BNI which stands for Business Networking International, is an American franchised networking organization with over 270,000 members across 74 countries around the world.  Like his BNI groups, Braith is passionate about helping businesses grow through referrals.

In this episode, Braith and I discuss what a referral is, how to give and receive them and how, with the right strategy, it can grow a business.

To find out more about Braith, visit

To find out more about BNI (Business Networking International) or find a BNI in your area of the world, visit 


Donna Hanson: Experts insight episode we speak with Braith Bamkin. Braith has several degrees, including psychology and marketing and it’s worked for organizations such as Nokia and Telstra, but these days. Bryce is the executive director of two successful BNI for the uninitiated that stands for business networking international regions and he’s passionate about helping businesses grow through referrals. Hi, Braith. Welcome. How are you today.

Braith Bamkin: I am fantastic Donna, thank you very much for inviting me on to said this with you and your viewers.

Donna Hanson: Awesome. So, let’s just get stuck striding what my first question shifting from corporate to BNI and having BNI on many regions why the move?

Braith Bamkin: Do you mind if I take you back in time back to the 80s and I was around I’m not sure you were around my very first real job was working in commercial textiles and I remember in the very first week of working in that company, the woman that had started this business. Now we’re driving across the Sydney Harbour Bridge as you do. And I was looking up at the good as and she said to me, Braith, if you’re going to be successful in this business, you need to know how to network. So, this is the 80s is I was young, I knew everything. Of course, I knew nothing, and I had no idea what that word meant so we went into town. We did our business and on the way, back. I was looking at the girl as again on the Harbour Bridge. And I said, Judy. I have no idea what networking is can you explain what you mean by that. And over the next two years, she taught me what networking was and how you could build your business and how you can become successful through networking and it was a lesson that I took with me. Well, the rest of my time in that business.

And as I moved through corporate and one thing led to another and my very last job, I was working in the mattress business. I was a national sales and marketing manager. We had franchisees and I think you’ve got a network, you’ve got a network. And one of them said to me, where are you doing it. And I went, you know, I’ve given up something I know works well. In fact, I had actually started a networking group here in Melbourne about 20 years ago so nothing. Nothing to do with being I was a not for profit.

And it’s still going. And you know, I went back into it and somebody invited me to obey and I’m at and the rest, as they say, is history.

Donna Hanson: Wow, you know, sometimes you dip your toe into the water on something and then you decide that. That’s for you.

Braith Bamkin: Yeah. Well, I mean, my father said to me when I was probably in my 30s. My father is a chemical engineer. He’s very… This plus this equals that he’s the guy that I opened the box and read the instructions and then landed on the guy that reps, the box open shots they caught in the puck and like I have this work. So, we’re very different, but my dad said to me.

The reason that you’re so successful is that you really understand how to engage with people and he said as a kid. When we had family functions and events. You are always going around making sure people had drinks, people would take for each other. Making sure that are connected. You are always very concerned the people were comfortable with each other side, you’ve always been a networker so I went, Wow, that’s cool. So even as a kid, he recognized that

Donna Hanson: Oh, wow. Hey, the consummate into host. It sounds like you know, before we get on to referrals. There’s one other thing that I want to ask what do you, what do you think has been the major reason why the BNI on business networking international concept has been so successful because it’s a global brand, right.

Braith Bamkin: Correct, yes, it’s in. I think now 74 or 75 countries we have currently 270,000 plus members around the globe. It’s been going for 36 years this year. So, a long time but like most businesses Donna.

If you have a system and you follow the system, you get an outcome. And if you repeat that system and you become an expert at the system, you get a better result. So BNI all BNI is you’re buying a system to use in your business to marketing tool. So, it’s the same as you would buy zero to do your books.

And if you’re you keep paying a subscription to zero, you get access to zero. Man is the same thing, but with BNI we are teaching people how to build relationships and the beauty of it is that no one at university or school teaches us how to build trust and as you would know trust is the cornerstone of any relationship.

And often people go into premature solicitation is a word we like to use in here and I where people go straight from the high Donna, nice to meet to do you want to buy my widget. You’ve all been to one of those events where somebody started that you’re in the corner going. Whoa, hey, we’ve just met. And I know a lot of people don’t understand that. So, we teach people how to go from what we call visibility through credibility into profitability.

Donna Hanson: Okay, so let’s talk about the concept of referrals, because I’m sure a lot of our viewers or listeners, um, you know, broadly, maybe have an understanding of in a broad sense water referrals, but I just want to make sure we’re all on the same page. So, could you define that for us.

Braith Bamkin: Thanks, Don, I think it’s important to identify that, because it is a big difference at a lot of people talk about the leads. You’ve heard the leads before and referrals are some people use those terms interchangeably.

But they’re very different. So, a lead would be if I ran you up and said, Donna. I was eating a barbecue on the weekend and my colleague wants to buy your widgets. Here’s his phone number ring him up.

Hearing up my colleague, he said, bright told me to give you a call, you want to buy my widget. And he goes, wow. Who are you, and why are you calling so, there’s no engagement from me to that person, that person wasn’t expecting your call. It wasn’t set up. It’s a cold call I could give you the yellow pages or for young, young people wouldn’t know what Yellow Pages of Google and you know, that would be the same thing, whereas a referral requires three people and those three people must have interaction between each other.

So, if I see my mate at the barbecue and I say you’ve got it. My friend has a referral is simply solving someone’s problems. My friend says, I’ve got this problem. I got, ah, Donna Hanson sells widgets and they’re going to serve your problem and fix your problem now.

Would you be okay if I introduce you to Donna Hanson and when would be a good time for her to give you a call, which preferred email you and so, I’ve set it up so I introduced you I’ve told him that you’re going to solve his problems.

Braith Bamkin: And that your widgets are going to make his Needs, I probably have edified you in that conversation as well. And then I’ve made a clear introduction of when the introduction is going to happen by phone or email and then when you call you got. Hey, I’m Donna Hanson. I’ve got my widgets to sell you because Dr. Bryce told me you’re amazing. I’m really looking forward to working with you.

How soon can you fix my problem. So not a cold call it’s an it’s a warm introduction and there are levels of that and that’s a very low-level introduction, but it’s a referral and the high you get in the quality of referral. I high value referral might require may sign high, you need to make Donna. She sounds great. We just but let’s have lunch together when we’re out of the lockdown. Sit down.

And have lunch together, and I’ll introduce you, Over lunch. So, I’ve taken the time out of my schedule to sit down with the refer and the referee to make that relationship happen now do you recommend going to close that sale.

Donna Hanson: You’d like to think so.

Braith Bamkin: Pretty much like this thing. So, whereas if you call these blood gap and go, I’ve got my widgets. He’s never heard of you, not that. Not that the calls rates, very small.

Donna Hanson: So, can I ask a question about that totally slightly off track. Why would somebody do referral like that. What, why would you do an any introduction and say, come to lunch and I want to introduce you to what motivates people to want to do something like that.

Braith Bamkin: I am so glad you asked. And this is not a set up, but this really is a very important part of the referral process. So, when I introduce you to my friend, what I’m doing is I’m transferring trust to you, between you and him so he and I have trust you and I have trust.

And it’s a transference of that trust between the two of you that implicit. So even though you to have never met and done business. It’s that level of transfer trust that enables you to engage with each other off the bat. Because I say you’re okay. I say he’s okay you both trust each other and off you go. And the beauty of that is that when I help you
and I help my mates who looks good.

Donna Hanson: You do.

Braith Bamkin: And then what happens when I look good to you, what do you want to do the may

Donna Hanson: I want to help you.

Braith Bamkin: What’s been a while ago.

Donna Hanson: He wants to help you too

Braith Bamkin: everyone’s are winner

Donna Hanson: Yeah, I okay now I understand. Not that I didn’t understand but I really appreciate the clarity, you know, and, and a lot of people get joy from that I know that I get joy from solving someone else’s problem. It’s not by selling what it is that I have, but by them going, oh my goodness, I hadn’t even thought of that.

They say you know when you’re a kid, they say it’s better to give than receive, but as a kid you are thinking, well, I want to receive the Christmas presents daily, but as an adult. You find that when you’re giving the gift of a referral or you’re helping someone out. It seems you up doesn’t it.

Braith Bamkin: Does what in banner, the core philosophy of the organization is givers gain. So, we know that when people join BNI on the more they give from the get go, the sooner they received back but now in the corona crazy world that we’re in. One of the things that I have seen have has really helped people to lift themselves up is to help somebody else. So, I don’t know about you, have you ever done volunteering before

Donna Hanson: Yeah, absolutely.

Braith Bamkin: Oh, I’ve done a lot of volunteering in my life and I’m sure like me when you volunteer with some with an organization. You put time and effort in and you expect nothing back and you get so much back, you get personal development back, you may get business opportunities back, you get relationships back, you cannot get I have found you cannot give enough to compensate for what you get back. I always leave a volunteering opportunity with so much more in my life.

In richness and fullness and it’s the same philosophy. When you help other people you’re just going to feel good about yourself. And obviously if you’re if you’re feeling bad about yourself and there’s a few people out there now that are feeling down in the dumps.

Go and do something nice for someone else expect nothing in return. And if all you get back is to lift your spirits high a lot of bad if

Donna Hanson: Awesome. So now, again, a lot of our viewers and our listeners and probably received or given a referral at some stage, but I’ve heard that having a process or a structure is important to get more referrals. Why should we have a process and, you know, don’t I just, you know, when I see an opportunity. Just throw it out there.

Braith Bamkin: That’s a good question. So, I just got back to me and my night. Let’s call him Dive at the barbecue and Donna, and you’ve got your widgets and let’s say I set this up and I started Dive.

You are doing to meet Donna. She’s got these great widgets eager to see dive I set it up, you may, and suddenly dive finds out the you only sell your widgets.

In Melbourne in the centre of Melbourne and you don’t sell widgets in Frank’s to knowledge along but he’s all his businesses ranks and in July.

You know how we talked about the transference of trust, suddenly, my credibility is diminished. Your credibility is diminished he’s frustrated with you. You’ve spent energy and effort meeting with him. He spent energy and effort thinking, Oh, this one’s going to solve my problem.

But it doesn’t. So, finding out about your business and the problems that you solve and how I make that introduction to the referral source is paramount to a great referral. Because if I just go down and sales. We just and she sells witches to everybody, but I don’t get the euro specialized which at Maker. And you’re only you’re only deliver within 10 kilometres of the city or whatever the case might be. Or, you know, if it’s a service.

Maybe, maybe you’re pitching at a very specific target market. And this is very key to what you need to know who your target market is so if you’re teaching me my target market is financial services and I send you to Dive and Dive works in the Health and Wellness industry. And that’s not your gig, you know, again, it’s an it’s a misfire so no one’s a winner. In that case, and I look if that happens, and that happens quite a lot. What I would say to somebody is go back to the person that gave you that referral and say bye. Thank you so much for thinking of me.

But when I spoke to Dive, I found out that Dive’s in the professional’s finance industry. I did. You know, I only work in the health and wellness industry. And so, these are the kind of people I work with. And these are the kind of problems that I saw.

So even getting a bad referral is a great teaching opportunity. So, not, not, this is actually the band for or even getting a referral. That doesn’t generate business is a massive teaching opportunity. And I’m going to go, Wow, I didn’t know that about you and in then I’m even more likely to want to look out for somebody that you are going to do business with because the more information I have about you, your product and your service, the better that referral is going to be when it comes so

Donna Hanson: I’m guessing that the key to being able to get good referrals is to build the relationships. So, I know you know me, we understand what each other does. You may not necessarily have purchased my services. I’m using myself as an example.

But you understand the problems that are sold. So, and then I might say to you, hey, brave. I’m looking for referrals to organizations who are looking for training for this sales teams. So, suddenly, you’re niching down and you’re able to go. Okay. Donna works with sales teams.

Braith Bamkin: Absolutely. And I think what happens is as your relationships deepen with individuals you start moving from what we would call Reactive referrals, which is mean David the BBQ to proactive referrals. So, you’ve taught me that you work with sales organizations, you’ve taught me that you work in a specific type of area. You given me a lot of information that I can edify you with when I find somebody in that sort of organizations. I can start the conversation and you take and the deeper, we have a relationship, the more information I can have to help that referral come through and then it becomes a proactive referral.

I proactively go and look for referrals for you and I tend to be much higher value than reactive referrals were active referrals is, you know, if you’re obviously not. But if you’re a plumber and dive needs plumbing job and his bathrooms leaking. That’s a great reactive referral. There’s nothing wrong with a reactive referral. But I proactive I’ve gone out to look for somebody in my network that you wish to relate to that’s a high degree of relationships that takes time and that’s a function on things we do well

Donna Hanson: Always going to say, I’m guessing I don’t. You don’t rock out to a networking event flesh out because we’ve all seen that happening or somebody just comes to the networking event. And that’s all they seem to want to do

Braith Bamkin: Yeah, networking events, a great first started, so most networking events. People go so, I always ask people in training. How many of you, God and when networking event to buy someone, no hands go up? How many of you go to a networking event, hoping that somebody is going to buy your product or service everyone’s hand goes up.

So, the disconnect there is no one’s going to buy but everyone’s going to sell someone’s going to be unhappy. But if you go there with the knowledge that you have an opportunity to make potential new relationships that you can faster over time. Then you go with a very different approach.

Donna Hanson: And I’m guessing to its less some stressful if perhaps you’re not, you don’t feel like you’re a sales person.

Braith Bamkin: Yeah, absolutely. So, I, I always say to anyone that goes when they’re working event and Ben is not necessarily a networking event. It’s a referral organization but networking events.

At the end, there’s a lot of them when we have a lot of opportunities.

I said the best way to go into that and not feel icky and leave feeling a key is to go in there and act like a host. So how would you be if somebody was coming to your home to the same thing. And that’s the precursor to a good relationship, you might only find one person that you
choose to have a relationship with after that meeting, but one every month for a year is 12 new meaningful contacts. Let’s give you 11 for one will give you a month off for Christmas.

But let’s just say, you know, it turned out to be half of that would five or six good solid relationships that you invest some time in every year, build your network.

Donna Hanson: Yeah, absolutely. Absolutely. So, um, so it’s important that we have a tight idea of how to communicate what we’re looking for in a referral, otherwise you could get just about anything. Is that right,

Braith Bamkin: Absolutely. I think it starts with this is me, I’m a marketer. I have a background in marketing ads, my, my absolute passion. These people in business.

I think the reason most people in business file is not because they’re not good business people, it’s because they don’t have a clear target market. And if you don’t know who you want to do business with. How am I going to find your referral, because you can’t explain it to me? Has anyone going to find the referral and taking it out of the referral environment on or if you look at all your marketing your print your collateral your social all that everything that you do needs to speak to your target market. And if you’re not clear on your target market. And my favourite thing is when I asked people. Who is your target market? I got everyone that needs an x, y Z. I’m like, Great Well, this is an opportunity. We must help you type that data and the more specific you get about your target market, the easier it is to refer its counter invites, but it is absolutely without question. The one thing that people who get very high value referrals will side is the riches of the American side, it’s the riches are in the niches. Richest of Indonesia sub regions around the nation’s we would satisfy for the more specific you are, the easier it is to refer you, and the higher value, you will generate from referrals and from your business. Because when you are very clear and you’re one of the only people that does that.

Donna Hanson: Awesome. Okay so clarity on who you serve. Who is your target, target market is important?

And why. Yeah and why. Okay, okay. So, in your experience, what sort of things stop people from getting more referrals. Is it that target market, you mentioned, obviously, if you don’t know who it is.

And you’re selling to everybody. But are there other things that you see that’s sort of, you know, stop people in their tracks.

Braith Bamkin: Yeah, for sure. So not having a clear system. So, if you’re going to have referrals as a marketing strategy, you need a CRM system. So, if we have had a meeting, I need to document what’s happening there. Are you can have a CRM system that’s an Excel spreadsheet. It doesn’t have to be. It doesn’t have to be a you know a big fancy system. But if I’ve had lunch with Donna and Donna mentioned to me that she’s got
two puppies and a frog at home for her pets and write that down to Donna has two puppies and a frog. And the next time I made with you, I’d say.

Two puppies and a frog again at summits our relationship. So, I need to have notes. And then as we get deeper into our relationship and I become clear that you work with sales people.

And then I then we move into what kind of company’s organizations, you’d work with and one of the best tools that we have in BNI and I that anybody could use. You don’t need to be in BNI it to use this is be clear about who your past 10 customers are and be able to tell the story of how they came to you and the problem you solve and the journey took them on. So, if I was in a referral relationship with you and I had 10 customers like it’s I don’t let me tell you about this latest customer that came to me. This is the problem that I had this is how we looked at that and this is the resolution we got for that you will be armed with the knowledge because you know what stories sell

You know, you’re a public speaker, you know, this more than anyone else when we’re on the public speaking game, but your story, sell people remember stories. I can’t remember the details. You know, I made a lot of people, a lot of industries. I don’t remember that’s the stuff about their business. I remember the stories that they tell so

Donna Hanson: So, so that makes sense. So, having some ideas around how you’ve helped people and being able to bring those out as stories, rather than inanimate objects such as I sell widgets.

Braith Bamkin: Yeah. Well, a lot of people also use industry speed and it’s very disengaging to have industry speak coming at you. And here’s the thing anyone in financial services can bore you to death with the industry speak and they love it because I think they’re really interesting.

To me that, but other financial people there fabulously interesting but if you speak to me and you use industry speak. I don’t get it. So, I can’t sell that to somebody else to tell that to somebody else. But if you tell me how you’ve helped a client, I get that. And I can lie that I like to repeat your story.

Braith Bamkin: And that’s why I can edify you

Donna Hanson: And that sounds a bit more real, doesn’t it?

Braith Bamkin: Yeah, yeah. Because we can all carry a story with us and repeat it.

Donna Hanson: Absolutely, absolutely. Okay. So that’s quite target market and watch and having stories are two important things

Braith Bamkin: And a system of follow up.

Donna Hanson: And a system of follow up. Okay. Do you have a couple of other ideas or strategies?

Braith Bamkin: I do sitting next to me on my desk. And the call pulls something out. I went to India, just before lockdown bought off one of those streets sellers hundreds of these cards little card with a beautiful little painting inside the book. I don’t know if you can see that through the screen, but it’s a beautiful hand painted

Well, you probably can’t see it, but it’s a hand painted on a lake. It’s stunning and I have this sitting next to my computer. I’ve got about 80 of them left how pile of these Mandela tents. That way it stands guard to $1 to $1 I just bought some all the other day. I’ve been sending stamps to see if you are sending cards as. Thank you. So even if you have just had coffee with somebody for the first time.

Saying, thank you for your time. I really enjoyed meeting you and then give them something now. It doesn’t have to be a thing. It can be a really simple thing like after meeting with you. I thought about this book that I had read so write the name of the book in there or after meeting with you, I realized I’ve seen a great article that I thought was beneficial for you or I saw a great zoom meeting that’s coming up or makeup or I thought about somebody else that’s doing something similar to you. Have a look at their website so doesn’t have to be significant. If we had a really high value. Meaning, then we might, I might give you a book or you have a whole pile of books, but they’ve so over there but I might send the book to somebody and I’d say, hey, this books really helped me. I thought this would be great for you. People just cannot believe that they get something in the mail.

And if it’s a high value relationship if they get a book in the mail. They love it. I also use send out card. If you know the 10 cards concept but I use that for all our member engagements as well so I send out send out cards. To people in the membership, but I also use that as well to other people that are might meet my zoom in that. So, it depends on who they are, but I will have a sentence in that card or a handwritten card and make an effort of doing that. You’ve got to also write in your CRM system or your Excel spreadsheet that you’ve done it because you will forget and everyone gets one goes, Oh my goodness. Thank you so much for my card use the dollar 10 and it took me two minutes to write

Donna Hanson: Awesome. So, it’s just about being thoughtful because I guess you never know where a conversation is going to go lead and really, what you’re doing is just going, well, you might not have something for me right now because often what happens is people are going out there, networking, they’re looking for referrals, because they’re desperate and speed, like if you’re looking for a date, you know, all I can imagine, you know, I’ve been married for nearly eight years. I think about that for a minute.

We’ve been together for 20 years. My husband and I, and you know you got to go out on a date and go hey, I look at you. You want to get married.
So, it’s just about, you know, nurturing the relationship because once that person may not buy your product or service they could know somebody who does

Braith Bamkin: You don’t know who I know and it takes time for that to happen to happen. I see it all the time. In fact, I’ll tell you a quick story. I saw a couple of years ago. And one of our chapters, a member standing up and hit stood up for six weeks in a row, asking for a very specific person. He wanted to meet and one day a visitor was there and she said to that guy. After the meeting. You do know the president of your chapters wife went to school with that guy’s wife.

And, you know, how would you know that because that’s not something that would come up. So, the visitor saw that she told this guy. He went to the presence and your wife knows the wife of the black that I’m trying to get them. It turned out to be a really fantastic referral, a very significant dollar value referral. But no one knew that and you just don’t know who people live.

Donna Hanson: Yeah, yeah. It’s some it’s just like you said, give us getting the law of reciprocity. I know very early in my career I learn about that. So now I’m conscious to The Times rice new I reckon we could probably talk for hours.Or

So, well, we, we looked at, let’s just summarize what we spoke about. So, it’s about being clear on who your target market is and knowing what you want to sell. Being able to tell some stories to give examples about what you’ve done and also having a follow up sort of system and even creating simple things to continue the conversation or create the engagement, a bit more beyond the initial mailing civilians, a card.

Or maybe even just an email or a book depending upon the depth of the connection that you you’ve made and sometimes too and I get shown the same you meet people and you go I’m not feeling the vibe, you know, and then other people, you just be lot. Boom. We have you been all my life. We just see so much connection because there’s a values alignment. So not everybody, you’re going to meet with you’re going to have a values alignment. We bet it’s important that you know all your relationships.
Conducted with dignity and respect because you never know who that person knows

Braith Bamkin: Correct.

Donna Hanson: We’ve all seen those movies where somebody upsets the receptionist and then the big we never want to talk to the person who are

Braith Bamkin: Absolutely. Yeah, because you don’t know who I know and you don’t know how you are upsetting may is going to affect all the relationships in your world. So, you know, I always best to

Braith Bamkin: Be open and generous, generous of spirit and generous and kind and look to help other people that really is the foundation of success in referrals, but in life and in business.

Braith Bamkin: Helping people

Donna Hanson: Absolutely, absolutely. And these days with technology, the way it is back in the old day you know if you had a bad experience. You might tell 10 people. But now, if you had a bad experience you tell hundreds of thousands through social media. So, you want your interactions, whatever they resulting to be have people walking away feeling positive about that interaction. Don’t you

Absolutely awesome. So, a break. If any of our listeners or viewers want to get in touch with you to explore how they can get your help, or Perhaps curious about BNI were should they go

Braith Bamkin: So, jump onto the BNI Melbourne Central website which has or if they want to specifically get in touch with me and you can follow the links to find me.

Donna Hanson: Awesome. Braith thanks so very much for your time today and he was sites on referrals. Thanks for joining us for this episode of Expert Insights until next time this is Australian productivity and technology expert Donna Hanson have an amazing week

Leave A Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *