I recently interviewed Janeen Smith, MS, MFT
about what makes a good business referral. Janeen is a San Francisco-based psychotherapist who helps people create the relationships and lives they want through psychotherapy, counseling, and education.
Janeen recently started a new BNI
group, which is where we met. I am not a BNI member – I was a guest of Mike, a mutual friend and member of Janeen’s BNI group.
BNI stands for Business Networking International and markets itself as the world’s largest business networking organization. BNI’s motto is “givers gain.”
Janeen is indeed a natural referrer. Before we officially started the interview, Janeen was already thinking about people I needed to meet.
Janeen Smith, Referral Queen
KS: Is it ok if I turn the tape recorder on?
JS: I just had a flash. I’m listening to you talk about marketing and listening to what you do, and seeing you light up about it. As I was thinking about you, and I started thinking about my dear friend, and I started imagining you two as partners in a firm, and then I come back and I think, I would love for you to meet my friend. That’s how I roll in the referral world.
KS: Please introduce yourself and tell me a little bit about your practice.
I’m a psychotherapist, consultant, and trainer. I have about 20 years in the field. I’m a licensed marriage and family therapist. My business is its peak when I’m seeing individuals, adults, adolescents, kids, couples, and families. I do specialize in some scary things: substance abuse, mental health, and domestic violence.
I believe people can change. I believe they have to want to. And I am good helping people want to change.
I also love to sit with people who are having trouble keeping connections. That’s it in a nutshell.
KS: You described yourself to me in an e-mail as the referral queen. How did you come by that title?
I like to see everybody prosper. I do believe that if we work together, there’s enough for all of us, so I’m always thinking about who’s a good partner. Maybe it started in my Yenta days. I wanted to help people find love.
KS: What makes a good referral?
In the past five weeks I’ve made three connections for Mike, a friend in BNI
. I started by sitting down with Mike and getting to learn about him. He brought his daughter, and I got to see the human side of him.
I introduced Mike to my creative guy, Todd, and they’ve already started doing business together.
As the referral or relationship queen, I just wanted them to meet and connect. I know that if I put my name behind somebody that means something.
KS: I’ve always hesitated to join a BNI group, because it feels like you will be forced to make referrals to everyone in the group.
: You don’t have to refer, which is important for me.
Who I have my name behind matters. People don’t have to be perfect, but I want to know if people do something wrong, do they get it? Do they want to change? If they want to really change, that’s ok. If they don’t. My name.
KS: You are currently looking for new members for your BNI group. What kind of members are you seeking?
There’s a list of what makes BNI groups successful. What makes it successful is how much money we move through the group. Some professions are critical to have. We need lawyers, mortgage brokers, construction, handyperson, creatives, a marketing guy, bankers, and a CPA.
This group really fits for me, so I want it to fit for people who enter it. I want them to get it that I buy that I can be a sales and marketing force for you if I like who you are and what you do. I’m happy to do that.
I really do believe that there’s enough and that having a group of people that you feel really good about that you can refer is what helps my clients grow. And it’s community. In a city it’s hard to have community.
I really think there’s enough for everyone.