I’m an entrepreneur and I really dislike being told what to do. In fact, when I joined BNI it was the one thing that I found really difficult to get my head around. To be completely honest with you, it took a good six months until the chapter President took me aside, sat me down and had a real conversation about how I could be very successful in BNI because up until that point, I was a terrible member. Thank goodness he did because I once I ‘got it’, BNI became really easy to use and generate the results I had expected.
One the things that I love most about BNI today, is that it’s a really simple system that if you follow the basics (that has been tried I’ve last 30 plus years) it’s really easy to have success.
Here are my five simple actions for success in BNI. I’ve seen these implemented by the best members over my time in BNI, so there is no need to reinvent the wheel just follow these steps.
Trust me, it’s REALLY simple stuff!
It might seem obvious, but being in the room each week is a sure fire way to build trust and respect with your fellow members.
Recently a member came to me saying BNI wasn’t working for her after just 6 months. She had received no referrals (and only given 3). I had a quick look at the member commitment report and there it was. Out if 28 weeks of membership, she had been absent 3 times and had 6 subs. Whilst this was within policy (just), it meant she was never going to get the full benefits of membership. I was brutally honest with her and said that maybe it wasn’t the right place for her if she could not come that often. I went on to explain that building visibility and credibility was essential to her success in BNI.
What blew me away was that she claims that the attendance policy was never properly explained to her and now she knew why the policy was there, she could definitely commit to coming. In fact, right then and there she put a diary appointment in her calendar for BNI every week. I have no doubt she’ll be a success in years to come.
Do (well planned) One to Ones
It might seem obvious but actually teaching the people in your chapter how to find your business is central to your success.
Whilst it’s nice to have coffee with people, a great One to One affords you the opportunity to educate fellow members how they can find you work and how they can introduce you to those potential clients. Done properly, it should fill your pipeline of referrals and also better educate your fellow members on exactly what good business looks like for you.
Like any business meeting, you need an agenda and a specific outcome. There are plenty of BNI One to One planning tools out there, so put a little effort in and it will yield a great result.
NB: There is a direct correlation between the number of One to Ones a member does and their closed business give and referrals received, talk to your Director to find out the stats.
You don’t have to be on the leadership team or have a formal role to contribute to the success of your chapter. There are plenty of things that members can do that will make their experience and the experience of others in their BNI chapter, really successful.
I have noticed over the years that chapters that give most of their members some level of responsibility, seem to be the most successful as a whole (and evenly spread among members too).
Here are some ideas for you to contribute if you’re not in a formal role:
- Set up the room
- Collect all paperwork and business cards left on the tables after a meeting
- Help with the sign in of visitors in busy days
- Offer to print the week’s chapter trade list
- Offer to assist with Social Media
- Help organise social activities
- Start conversations in your chapter’s closed Facebook group
- Post, comment and share on your chapters public facebook group
- Welcome visitors and introduce them to members
I know this can be hard for some people, but when I learnt that I was simply asking people along for a business networking breakfast, the pressure came off ‘getting people to join’ and inviting became easy.
Whilst it is nice for chapters to grow, only a member of the membership committee can invite someone to ‘join’ BNI, so avoid ever falling into that trap. That will take the pressure off you and inviting will become easy.
Here’s the thing, the goal is not necessarily to grow the chapter, but to introduce people to potentially do business with other members. You will be considered a chapter star if you can bring a steady stream of potential clients – one a month is a great number to aim for, which is actually only 11 new people a year.
Who doesn’t come across 11 business people wanting to network with other like-minded business people in a year?
TIP: If you meet someone new, why not offer them the opportunity to meet your trusted network by saying. Remember, it is a privilege to be a BNI member so you are doing your visitor a favour, not the other way around. I use words like:
“It’s great to get to know you and I’d like to invite you to a local business networking breakfast next ‘xxxday’ as my personal guest. You’ll get to meet my inner circle of business associates which I am sure you’ll find beneficial. Can I pick you up on my way?”
You wouldn’t wing it for an important business meeting so why do it in BNI?
Prepare your 60-second referral requests in advance, prepare your “I have” contribution and put the time in your diary for your BNI and One to One meetings.
You reduce your credibility in the room and in a One to One meeting when you are unprepared and believe me, people can tell!
So there you go, five simple steps for success in BNI. Follow these and you’ll be a valuable chapter member generating a lot of business for yourself. Remember, BNI is simple, so don’t make it hard by skipping these basics.
Want to visit a BNI chapter? Drop us a quick email here and we can arrange a visit for you.