Thursday, 12 October 2017

My last BNI blog ever?

This is my very last BNI blog. Why? Because about three weeks ago I was sacked as a BNI Director Consultant by Jonathan Hamilton the Executive Director for Surrey.

I started my BNI journey 14 years ago in 2003, becoming a Regional Director (now Director Consultant) in 2006. Soon after I joined I became a member of my chapter’s Leadership Team and since then have held every role within a chapter. I have been voted Director of the Year for London North West and also been an Area Director. In 2008 I started writing this blog, have made a number of BNI videos that have been used, by both members and Directors alike, around the world, written a best-selling BNI book, visited chapters in Ireland and Scotland, as well as in Africa and Japan, but, most importantly, helped hundreds of members not only get the best from their BNI membership but also helped them in their businesses.

So you might be asking yourself what I could have possibly done to warrant an instant sacking with no right of reply or opportunity to change whatever it was that I was doing wrong. It’s a great question and one I asked, having got over the shock. The answer is the way I was attempting to help some of my members and my communication method (email) with them in doing so.

In life I don’t believe that there are any good or bad learning experiences, just learning experiences. So what can we learn from my demise?

Well firstly, always expect the unexpected; this is as true in your business life as it is in your personal life. And secondly, find out if people really welcome whatever it is that you are doing to help, because they won’t necessarily tell you otherwise.

So, what now for David Wimblett? Well I set up my first business at the tender age of 21 and since then have learnt a great deal about every aspect of running a business. With this in mind I have started a new business blog called 'Marketing and Business' and set up a new FacebookBusiness page, also cunningly called 'Marketing and Business'. Therefore, if you get a minute, I would really appreciate it if you had a look at them and I would welcome any feedback that you might have.

For the blog click here and for the Facebook page click here.

I loved being a member of BNI and will certainly miss it and you all. Although I must admit that I’m not going to miss getting up at 5.00am on a freezing winter’s morning to get to a meeting.

So for now, goodbye, but I hope to meet you or hear from you again soon.


Saturday, 7 October 2017

Code of Ethics 6

I wonder do you know the 6th BNI Code of Ethics without looking it up? For those of you who aren’t too sure, this is it: Number 6 - I will display a positive and supportive attitude with BNI members. It’s pretty simple but I’m always amazed at how many members fall short of this, especially when you consider that just about everything in BNI is about helping its members give and receive more referrals. And I have a couple of recent examples that illustrate what I mean.

During a 1-2-1 with a member it became clear that they were a little upset because a fellow chapter member had unsubscribed from their eNewsletter. Now I’m not suggesting that you subscribe to every eNewsletter going, although as a marketer I do because you never know where you might pick up the next great idea, but in this case it is very different.

So, what does this member unsubscribing actually mean and say? Well for openers that you are not interested in the member concerned. But it goes much deeper than that, because by reading the newsletter this member would have learnt things that would help them refer in the future. It would also have been supportive of the member concerned and certainly not upset them. In turn this may have led to getting more referrals, whereas now the likelihood is that it will lead to fewer referrals. After all, would you give referrals to someone who didn’t care about you?

My second example is of a member who wanted to be involved in what their chapter was doing but was clearly told that it was nothing to do with them. They were attempting to be supportive to the chapter but it certainly wasn’t received with any positivity. Again what does this say? Is there a clique in place? Was it just a jobsworth devoid of any common sense? That the chapter isn’t inclusive? That the chapter has so much help they don’t need anymore? (somehow I doubt this option). But again, going deeper, what is the likely outcome of this event? Again, fewer referrals being passed between the members concerned.

As if you needed any more proof, only last week I didn’t pass a referral I could have done. Why? Because the member concerned has absolutely no interest in me and little for their chapter as a whole.
So, if you would like to give and receive more referrals spend a few moments and consider how positive and supportive you are to your fellow members.

Saturday, 23 September 2017

That’s my fence!

For some reason something that happened a few years ago now popped into my head today and it’s as relevant today as it was then.

It was after our normal weekly meeting and an aggrieved member caught me in the car park (I was the Membership Coordinator at the time – Vice President today).

His opening words were “You’re got to do something about (I’ll call him Mike – not his real name) Mike!”

“Why?” I asked innocently although I already had an idea of what was coming; a category clash.

“Mike was talking about fencing and that sort of work is mine. You have to do something," he insisted. “Right now!”

I explained that it wasn’t clear cut and the best thing to do in the situation was to meet the Mike and agree on a dividing line between ‘crossover’ jobs.

But he wasn’t interested. He insisted that I had to do something. That was my job. I knew that talking to Mike was the best way to solve the problem and asked the member to do me a favour and have a coffee with Mike. Eventually, if I really thought it best and as it was me, he agreed to having a coffee, but if it didn’t work I had to do something.

The next afternoon my phone rang, the member’s number on the screen, and with a certain amount of trepidation I answered it. “I did what you said. Bloody good advice”, he said.

“Great!" I replied.

Cutting a long story short, they had met and were going to do a large project together. The outcome was even better than I had hoped for, but as BT used to say, 'It’s good to talk’.

So, my advice to you, if you ever think that a fellow member is encroaching on your territory, have a coffee with them as you never know where it might lead.

Monday, 3 July 2017

I’ve got to shoot off!

I was attending a meeting recently when a member arrived and announced that they had to ‘shoot off early’, so would sit near the door.

I have to say that I was surprised that ‘early’ actually meant the member concerned leaving at 8.00am.

Now there are many reasons why leaving your chapter meeting early is not a great idea but those are not why I’m writing this particular blog.

You see the reason I’m putting fingers (or in my case finger) to keyboard is because of the upset that is bound to follow this early departure. You see at some point in the future the member is going to discover that they were marked as absent for having left the meeting early.

It may not be until they see their monthly Member Traffic Lights, but at some point their absences will come up and it will cause upset, as the member will think that they should have been marked as being present for the meeting; after all they had been there for most of the meeting.

However, the BNI Policy is very clear on attendance. Policy number (3) states: ‘The weekly meetings last for 90 minutes. Members need to arrive on time and stay for the entire meeting.’

So, if you know that you are going to have to leave your meeting early, rather than be the cause of a later upset (and put unnecessary pressure on your vice-president), it is far better to arrange a good substitute.

Thursday, 27 April 2017

Watching the kettle boil!

Finding a little time for BNI is a challenge for many BNI members. I can understand that because I can remember a time when, as I was that busy, it was difficult to find even a couple of minutes to go to the loo. That may sound crazy, but it’s true. However, I soon sorted out how to prioritise and, in fact, now help a lot of my clients use their time much more effectively.

The thing is, as I’ve written before, just a few minutes a day spent on BNI activities would make a big difference to your rewards as a member. So how about this for an idea?

If you are anything like me, a couple of times a day you make myself a cup of coffee (I have tea in the afternoon) and, again if you are like me, while the kettle is boiling you sort out your cup, put in some milk and a spoon of coffee (and maybe sugar). Then you watch the kettle boil; it’s a couple of minutes when nothing much happens. Your world is in a sort of limbo.

But actually it’s the perfect time for a little BNI activity. You have time to send a few texts, maybe an email or two, even to make a quick phone call. The great thing about this idea is that you don’t need any more time to get this stuff done.
Just imagine if all you managed to do was to send was a couple of texts a day but that you did it every day. That would be 10 texts a week and 40 texts over the course of a month. Now that has to be worthwhile!

Sunday, 9 April 2017

What’s that pin?

Yesterday (Saturday) I went to see a prospective new customer (a partner in an International company) and as we were talking he asked me what the pin was on my jacket. I looked at the pin, twiddled it a little, and replied that it was my BNI pin. Obviously he asked me what BNI stood for.

I explained that BNI stood for Business Network International and that we are the world’s largest referral organisation. He then asked what we did. I briefly took him through the meeting format and explained that we all supported each other and shared referrals. His next question was about the sort of businesses made up a group. He was very interested in our single category policy and surprised at the size of our chapters; I told him that chapters ranged in size from around 20 members to as many as 80 members and that we had just about every type of business as a member from Accountants and IFAs, to every type of trade, to driving instructors and tailors. He said that he was surprised that he had never heard of us.

I knew that because of his job he was not a potential visitor (never judge anyone!), but that like all successful business people he just wanted knowledge of things he didn’t know about and should.

He then surprised me by asking if I could recommend a good electrician.Of course I said I could, and he asked if I could put him in touch. I found out a little more about the work he needed doing and then texted my electrician just under an hour later and passed the referral.

The thing about this is that it would never have happened if I wasn’t wearing my BNI pin. Now, I’m not a crazy person swapping my BNI pin onto every jacket I own before I go out, but I do have a pin on just about every jacked I have; around nine I think.

The BNI pin is a conversation starter and you never know when someone might ask you what the pin you are wearing is. So if you don’t wear your BNI pin please do because it can’t harm you; whereas not wearing it certainly can. And, if you only have one pin and would like more, just ask your BNI Director for some as I’m sure they will be happy to supply you.

The lesson here is that finding referrals doesn’t have to be hard work and that doing the little things can make a big difference.

In case you are wondering this is a true story and happened exactly as I have told it.

Friday, 24 March 2017

I’d like to introduce…

If your chapter doesn’t get its members to introduce their visitors it is missing a trick; a very large trick!

You see there are three great reasons why a member should introduce the person they have invited to your chapter.

1)    It gives added importance to bringing a visitor and also gives the visitor a lovely introduction.

2)    It gives special recognition to the member who has brought the visitor along in front of the chapter.

3)    And, this is really important, it has a hidden element to it.

What’s this hidden element?

Well let’s consider two possible introductions of the visitor. The first, ‘I would like to introduce Sarah, we met in the pub last night and as she is looking for more business, I suggested she came along this morning.’ And second, ‘I would like to introduce Sarah, we have been friends for over 10 years now, and I’ve lost count of the number of times she has helped me and my business.’

These introductions are valuable for two reasons and both are useful for the members and Membership Committee alike. The first tells everyone that you know nothing about Sarah, so you know nothing about her or how well she runs her business. Whereas the second is a wonderful reference and your members know that they would be safe in using her services.

The introductions are also extremely useful to the Membership Committee should she apply to join your chapter as, in the first example, they would have to spend more time following up on references and researching her business details.

So, I strongly recommend that if your chapter doesn’t already let members introduce their visitors that they do so very soon.