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Are you ready to jump into the fire?

I built a huge campfire on a very cold morning while on a recent camping trip with my Dad, G. David Alexander.  The fire was awesome, its radiant glow warmed up the entire area.  While I sat there enjoying it, I noticed an ember fall out of the pit.  It burned brightly and warmly for some time and then it started to diminish, grew cold and grey and eventually turned black.  So, I flipped it back into the fire and guess what?  It immediately started to burn brightly again. The most successful people I know never grow cold, they are radiant successful and connected.  What about the embers or people that fall out of the fire?  Many networkers, business people and entrepreneurs practice scorched earth networking instead of keeping their referral fires burning.

My Dad G. David Alexander

So what exactly is scorched earth networking?  It’s when you build a network only for your own benefit.  These people are the ones that you run from when you see them out and about.  Why?  Because you know they are going to try to sell you on their latest big idea.   These are also the people who are only interested in a meaningful conversation about themselves.

To build referrals, you build a network to support, nurture, and energize each other.  It is a two-way street.

I ran into a BNI member recently who shared his current successes.  His success in these economic times is impressive, especially considering he is a home inspector.  He shared with me that he has made $68,000.00 in income related to referrals he has received.  I asked him how he did it and he said, “I am committed to the people in my chapter and my network.”  I will share more on the commitment thing later.

Now, let’s get back to the ember.  To create a successful referral marketing plan, you have to stay involved, connected and committed to the people in your network.  Many, if not most, people jump into new projects, groups, training programs or marketing campaigns expecting immediate results.  Sometimes that happens, but more often it happens over time.

When I am training people, I usually ask, “How many of you could run a marathon this weekend if I registered you?”  Very few hands go up.   I then ask, “If the building was on fire could you run outside?”  Every hand goes up.  In this example, it’s not about the running.   They can all run. It’s about the training, discipline, and accountability to prepare.  Accountability is all about staying in the fire.  We might not like it at times; it might get hot and uncomfortable, but it will produce results.

Let’s go back to that immediate success idea.  Often times when people start achieving success with their team, they think that it’s time to do it on their own again.  Remember what happens when that ember falls out of the fire pit?

Let’s talk about three steps to keep you in the fire:

1.  Plug into a group of like-minded people.  If you need referrals, find a successful networking group.  If you are growing your business, plug into a group coaching program.  If you want to give back to your community, join a civic organization.  If you are into self-development, join a self-development program or mastermind group.  Remember commitment, any of these require it.  If you plug in and really commit, you will be rewarded by becoming a credible expert.

2.  Form an accountability group and keep track of each other’s success and progress.  Five frogs are sitting on a log and four decide to jump off.  How many are left?  One? Nope, all five are still on the log.   Deciding and committing are two different things.  I believe in the power of others to help keep you in the fire.

3. Find others whom you can pull into the fire.   If you want more clients, connect to people who can connect you to more clients.  Does anyone come to mind with whom you would love to connect?  Maybe you even envy their success or client list.  Ask them to meet you for a cup of coffee, tea or whatever THEY like.  What’s the worst thing that can happen?  They could say no, but if they say yes, then help them with something they need.

I believe one of the most powerful strategies that we can use to keep the referral fire burning bright is to spend as much of our time as possible helping other people achieve their goals.  What comes around goes around, right?

Happy Networking,


“If you can dream it, then you can achieve it. You will get all you want in life if you help enough other people get what they want.”
Zig Ziglar

Rich is the Chief Catalyst at International Business Fuel and Shifu at Rou Long Ma Taijiquan.

David Gray Alexander

David is the Executive Director of BNI in Georgia and North Carolina and the Chief Networking Officer of  High Achievers.