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.

Sunday, 26 February 2017

Are you in the Frame?

I made my first visit to BNI Surbiton recently and was made to feel very welcome. I saw a great meeting with a lot of business being passed but what really impressed me, because it stood out as being special, was the way members presented their testimonials.

A verbal testimonial is always better than a ‘nothing today’ during the Contribution Round. However, a nicely printed letter is by far the best way to give a testimonial. Always remember to give two copies: one for the member and one for the chapter's Testimonial Binder. Often the testimonial will also be added to the chapter’s website and, of course, the member’s website. It might also be used in advertising and - even better - framed and displayed at the member’s place of business.

All of these things are extremely useful, not just for the member receiving the testimonial, but also for the person giving it.

But at BNI Surbiton they take the giving of a testimonial a stage further. They present one copy of the printed testimonial already framed. Not only does this look great when it is presented but the person receiving it is able to display the testimonial immediately; no having to go and buy a frame (or not getting round to it).

Dave Goodman - Utility warehouse

Often as these things happen, a few days later I visited Amanda Lord, of Ad Alta Sports Therapy, for some physio, and on display was a framed testimonial given to her by Dave Goodman of the Utility Warehouse. The testimonial reassured me that I was in good hands and, of course, I noted Mr Goodman’s name and business.

Although this might seem like a small thing and certainly a little effort is required but, if you are looking for ways to improve your business, then I think it’s well worth the investment in time and money.

Tuesday, 3 January 2017

What’s up your sleeve?

Recently I was at a meeting when a member gave five referrals, read out a testimonial and had also brought along a visitor. It was great. And they received, a deserved, standing ovation.

It reminded me of an occasion in my own chapter a few years ago when one of our members did a similar thing. However, there was a big difference between the two members. You see for our member it was pretty much a one-off event as they were often short of a weekly contribution (a member in the red), whereas for this recent member it was common place, they are amongst the best ‘givers’ in their chapter; always at the top of the green in the traffic lights.

A weekly contribution is key to your success in your chapter as members tend to forget the great one-off contribution but they remember someone who gives every week. And that is very important to you (being remembered for giving every week) if you are going to get the best from your chapter. It will mean more referrals.

Now, as you will know if you regularly read my blog, I don’t think members bring enough visitors to their meetings but the other thing they don’t do is give as many testimonials as they could. Now I’m not talking rubbish testimonials here (Fred did a great job), but really useful feedback on work done. Testimonials that truly build the credibility of the member (receiving it), in the minds of everyone who hears it.

The reason I don’t think enough testimonials are given is because every good referral given could lead to a useful testimonial. And more testimonials would lead to more business for every member, due to increased credibility, not only for the person receiving it, but also the member giving it.
And the great thing is that there is no real time pressure on a testimonial. So if you struggle a little for a weekly contribution why not keep a good (written) testimonial ‘up your sleeve’ for a week when you have nothing else to give.

Tuesday, 13 December 2016

Feature Presentation is a bit of a Lottery!

Sometimes it can be hard to think of a topic for your Feature Presentation; sometimes the thought of doing one can be just plain scary. So how about this for an idea?

I saw this presentation some time ago but was reminded of it while attending a recent Member Success workshop. It’s clever, easy to put together and requires no special presentation skills. But what I like best about this presentation is that you are totally in control.

It’s a variation on the ‘Any Questions?’ presentation where you just spend 10 minutes answering questions and of course giving the answers. The problem is, and I’ve seen it, with this type of presentation is that often members can’t think of any (or enough) questions to ask. And there are worrying silences. Then, of course, you have the pressure of having to ‘think on your feet’ to give good answers, added to which the questions asked might not be the ones you really wanted to answer.

So how was this presentation different?

Firstly, it got every member involved and so was very interactive. As I’ve already said it was fun, there were more than enough questions, but the best part was that the only questions asked were the ones that demonstrated exactly what the presenter did and how he could help them.

He gave one member a bingo machine to operate (with 49 balls in) and every other member a folded piece of paper with a number on (1 to 49). Some members were given two numbers.

The bingo machine was spun, a number popped out, and the ‘caller’ gave the number. Then the member with that number, unfolded their paper, read out the question and the practiced answer given.

It was the perfect answer, to the perfect question. Just brilliant!

Just one thing to note; you do need to prepare 49 questions in advance.

So, if you are ever stuck for an idea, or nervous about giving a Feature Presentation, then why not give this a go?