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Use word of mouth to circumvent info overload

17 March 2008

Use word of mouth to circumvent information overload

Productivity and quality of life are fast becoming the victims of the modern business malaise, overwhelming information flow - but the problem can be controlled by building a word of mouth information network.

National Director of New Zealand’s largest business networking group BNI New Zealand, Graham Southwell, says people who have high quality referral networks should consider filtering those networks in to a handful of people who can become their information network.

“Your information network is a select group of people you can call when you lack the information (or knowledge on trends and new developments) you need to succeed.

“There is no doubt that we need a constant supply of information to achieve success, but the clutter often stifles more productive activities such as networking, family and leisure time.”

Basing his information about interactions with BNI New Zealand’s more than 2,000 small and medium business owners, Graham says RSS feeds, email, seminars, books and PDAs, to name just a few information sources, can gobble up too much precious time.

“As author Timothy Ferriss puts it: ‘BlackBerrys and e-mail aren’t inherently bad. It’s just like medicine: it’s the dose that makes the poison’.”

His advice is to know build a group of trusted people around you who can provide you with the ideas, knowledge and solutions only when you need it.

An information network is made up of:

* People who have the same interests and goals as you do;
* People in the same profession, or who were in your profession and may now be retired;
* Authors;
* Regulators
* Trainers;
* Consultants;
* Members of professional organisations; and
* Your business network.

How to set up the information network:

“Advice is nothing without action,” says Graham. “Write the names of at least three people you know, or know of, in each category. Name as many individuals as possible because more people mean more information, and then take action; go see them and get it started.”


BNI is New Zealand’s biggest structured referral network with 93 chapters from Dunedin to Northland. Each chapter typically consists of between 20 and 40 business owners and sales people, who work to generate referrals – within a structured environment – for each other as part of a team.

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