Friday, June 4, 2010

A Local Connection

Interviewed Ivan Misner, founder and chairman of BNI, this morning about social networking "best practices." In contrast to a lot of big shots I interview (BNI claims to be the world's largest business networking organization, with 5,600 chapters worldwide, and Misner's been called the "Father of Networking" by CNN), it would be hard to find a nicer guy.

On the phone at least, Misner comes across as genuine, down-to-earth and funny. When we discovered a local connection (he lives in Claremont), he stopped for a 10-minute chat on restaurants. For the record, he recommends Tutti Mangia and Aruffo's Italian Cuisine, and he commented favorably on Yianni's, a Greek place I went to just last weekend.

Turns out that Misner started BNI in 1985 in Arcadia. In fact, the founding chapter still meets at the Coco's on Santa Anita! The second chapter started a few weeks later in Pasadena and things spread from there. Misner said it was one year and 20 chapters later when he finally figured out he had created a phenomenon and sat down to write a business plan for it.

The group operates on the philosophy that networking is about giving, and relationship building, rather than selling and promotion. True to his word, before we wrapped up the interview, Misner was mentioning that he knows loads of business owners and would be happy to connect me with some if I ever need sources.

Definitely a class act. The interview was very interesting, too. I'll post a link here when it is published next week.


  1. Looking forward to reading the interview.

    And I agree: Thumbs up for Tutti Mangia.

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  3. I had no idea the BNI-guy was local!

  4. I'll have to try Tutti Mangia next time I'm out there, Susan. Their website plays beautiful music, I'll give them that so far!

    Paula, I was surprised also, but then I remembered that someone - Lilli? - told me a long time ago that it started here.

  5. My point exactly! Networking is giving!

    Sorry for the exclamation points but I'm so happy to find corroboration for what I've been preaching.

  6. You're exactly right, Petrea.

    Misner mentioned in our conversation how "slimy" some networking feels because it's not relationship-oriented, it's just direct selling. And bad direct selling at that.

  7. Slimy. Exactly.

    As I said in my blogging talk Saturday, I used to think networking meant "schmoozing"--lurking around with my business card and trying to get people to hire me, which felt like an icky form of begging. When I realized that networking is giving it made it so much easier.