Archive for Chapter Best Practices

roryRecently, the Gold Coast BNI community celebrated its first Big Breakfast Gala Awards day. It showcased each chapter’s top members, picked an overall individual winner, and crowned the number one chapter in the region for 2013.

The awards were our first major event in a little while. Unsurprisingly, our members eagerly and actively embraced the opportunity to network outside their chapters and deepen existing connections across the region – resulting in many new referrals and closed business since then.

Drumroll For Our Winners!

The top member prize of the day went to Rory Curtis from The Good Guys who took out Gold Coast Networker of the Year, doing the Eagle chapter proud. He was in great company for the hotly contest individual prize. The top members in each chapter were:

Tracey Winter – Beachside

Jeannine Devenport – Chambers

Rory Curtis – Eagle

Nycol Dorval – Infinity

Erin Ridley – Hub

Mark Smith – Neptune

Warren Bryan – Paradise

Kaeren Smith – Pinnacle

Amanda Van Den Broek – Venus

Thank you to all of our finalists, for your professionalism, team spirit and hard work.

BNI Beachside Takes Out Top Prize

It was great to see all regional chapters represented at the breakfast. The awards were a brilliant way to recognise our networking leaders. And the chapters setting their closed business goals was an eye opening experience for all of us,” says BNI Beachside President, Jeff Osborne.

His team certainly knows a thing or two about running a successful chapter as BNI Beachside took home the title of Gold Coast Chapter of the Year for 2013!

“The BNI chapters on the Gold Coast contribute over $20m to the local economy. That is a massive figure,” points out Jeff.

Well Done Gold Coast!

I like to extend a big thank you and congratulations to all chapters for their dedication and contributions to BNI in the region.

Every year our closed business steadily grows, and the region is on track to increase by $2 million again this year.

That’s an average of $76,000 per member added to the bottom line in 2014. All the more reason to work your network and build relationships, I am sure you’ll agree!

Thank You …

Last, but not least, I would like to thank Lindsey Adams  who was our brilliant MC for the morning, and our engaging guest presenter Craig Harwood. He enlightened everyone on the moods and fluctuations of economies and business trends – then, now and looking ahead into the future. He left us all with a sense of hope and renewed energy to get out there and make business happen.

Our BNI Gold Coast teams walked away from the awards morning, knowing what it takes to go from a good to great networker in and outside of BNI – and that the rewards will be flowing.

Here’s to a successful 2014 for all our Gold Coast members and chapters.

 

 

 

The content for this article was provided by Gold Coast Director Peter Fitzgerald and BNI Member Jeff Osborne

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BNI 1It’s that time of year again … award season!

Hollywood’s got The Oscars, London celebrates The Brits – and Sydney recently glammed up for the BNI Sydney CBD South Red Carpet Awards.

Hosted by Bob and Louise Greenup, the Executive Directors of BNI Sydney CBD South, the Red Carpet Awards honour BNI chapters as well as individual BNI members’ achievements during the previous year.

From Most Valuable Player 2013 (as voted on contribution by chapter members) in each chapter, via Gold and Black Belt Networkers 2013 (more than 50 and 100 one-on-one meetings per calendar year, respectively), to that most coveted of awards – Chapter of the Year 2013 – the anticipation was once again building and building in the room this year.

Who would be the winner for 2013?

BNI 3

BNI All About (BNI AAB) Business Takes Top Prize

Our chapter, like many others in the region, had been working hard to keep improving and adding to past achievements – and it showed. The standards were high and competition was stiff.

At our tables the tension and excitement was almost palpable as we got closer and closer to that final award announcement. BNI All About Business had already been able to proudly celebrate a top-tier number of Gold Networkers and receiving two of only three Black Belt Networker awards.

But would we take out the top prize?

BNI All About Business is a vocal bunch, and I am sure they heard our excited and happy whoops a few blocks down the road when we were declared Chapter of the Year 2013!

How Did We Get Here?

“It takes a true team effort to win the coveted BNI Chapter of the Year award,” says our President Sergio Porfirio.

So, what makes us at BNI All About Business different?

Vision & Purpose – We created a Vision Statement for our chapter in 2011: “All About Business is the most trusted business community in Australia, and we go beyond business.” That vision encourages us to develop our relationships personally, professionally, and within the community. Being clear that our chapter exists for a purpose means all of us individually have a greater than usual commitment to the group as a whole.

Strategy – We have a rotating group of members who meet to steer the ship, assist the leadership, and provide a sounding board for member feedback. Different to the Membership Committee, this Strategic Advisory Board is tasked with protecting the vision while leveraging all the structure and policies of BNI.

Commitment & Engagement – One of the benefits of having a shared vision is that BNI AAB is never short of volunteers to take up leadership and other roles in the group. We always have more volunteers than we have roles for! And with 20% of the membership involved in the Membership Committee, we not only spread the load to avoid burn-out, but we give the Membership Committee the scope to review applicants, members and renewing members with the right amount of due diligence.

Visibility – We rotate our leadership positions every six months to enable all members access to the visibility that leadership brings. This practice also keeps our leadership team fresh and motivated.

And underneath it all, we’re powered by BNI:

  • We respect the structure and policies of BNI and recognise that they are tested, proven, and effective.
  • We don’t try and change the basics.
  • The philosophy of Giver’s Gain is entrenched in our culture.
  • We care about what other members are getting out of our relationship.
  • We put a lot of time and effort into getting to know one another.

BNI 5

Where to for BNI All About Business in 2014?

“What makes All About Business special is that we know we can always be better, do more, and make each other more money. And we’re willing to put in the time and effort to make that happen,” says BNI AAB’s current Education Coordinator, Wendy Lloyd Curley. Wendy, who is a previous BNI AAB President, Vice President and Visitor Host Coordinator, has been our Most Valuable Member of the Year in 2012 and 2013.

We were back the next morning after the awards, working on our strategy for the year – to make sure that each member within our team keeps on winning in 2014.

“You can’t buy that kind of commitment. It comes from a much deeper place,” says Sergio.

I think, he’s right.

Daniela Cavalletti is a proud member of BNI All About Business, where her business holds the copywriting category. She is the founder of Sydney-based boutique communications agency Cavalletti Communications (affectionately known as CavaCom). Daniela and her team are passionate about helping business owners, authors and brands find their unique voice, boldly stand out and become leaders in their marketplace.

Watch a short video of the Red Carpet Awards.

Mar
21

Profit through Coopetition

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When the internet made its first inroads into the business psyche in the mid 1990’s, I was Director of a boutique advertising and graphic design company focussing on publishing magazines and other paper based media. It was apparent that the internet was not a passing fad and as such we decided to focus our business growth towards online publishing by offering our clients domain name registration and web hosting services. These two services quickly became our core business. Due to client demand we also offered several complementary services including graphic design, web design and development services, including e-commerce programming, IT training, networking and IT helpdesk services.

In early 1996 I was invited to deliver a keynote speech at my local chamber of commerce on how business could harness the power of the internet and email to reduce costs and find new customers. During open networking at the end of event I was approached by a lady who introduced herself as the Director of a company I knew as one of our main local competitors. After chatting for half an hour it was apparent that whilst they offered all the same services as us, they specialised in e-commerce programming but due to client demand they also offered domain registration and web hosting as complementary services to their clients.

She promptly invited me along to her BNI chapter which also had members in the fields of graphic design, web design and development, IT training, networking and IT helpdesk services. After being accepted as a member I quickly started to build relationships with all the members of my new “IT power team”. By focussing on our specialism we were now receiving domain registration and web hosting referrals from 5 new referral partners and in return we were happy to refer business to them in each of their specialist fields. We all obtained increased levels of business as a result and by working together to fulfil our clients requirements we reduced our overheads and increased our profits.

What I had engaged in was something called coopetition the basic principals of which received much attention in 1944 with the publication of the book “Theory of Games and Economic Behaviour” by John Forbes Nash. Coopetition occurs when several companies in the same market pool their resources and cooperate with each other to create a higher value than could be achieved if they acted alone. The result can often be higher quality products and services, reduced development costs and a shorter time to market than could be achieved if the companies involved had acted individually.

Occasionally, I get the opportunity to visit networking events where some members holding key categories run “full service” companies. Normally, these chapters are of average or below average size (between 15 and 25 members) and the reason they find it difficult to grow is because these key members do not have an abundance mentality and are not open to the philosophy of coopetition. As a direct result all members of the group are denied the opportunity to network as part of a larger group, and given that a members earnings increase exponentially as a direct result of the number of members and relationships in the room (Metcalf’s law), the earning potential of all members suffers as a result.

I recently visited a chapter in Brisbane that currently has 44 members and growing. Over the last 18 months they have embraced the coopetition philosophy and the result is annual closed business in excess of $4 million. As the members delivered their sales manager minutes I noted that they had four finance brokers (residential mortgage, commercial mortgage, vehicle finance and equipment finance), two interior designers (commercial and residential) and two photographers (video and wedding). Even though these companies could deliver similar services they had decided to cooperate for the greater good, they had embraced the abundance mentality and were happily developing highly profitable relationships not only with each other but also with other members of the chapter.

In BNI today, the objective is to develop New Generation Chapters, those that create $1 million in closed business in their first year. This can only be achieved if all members have the abundance mentality and are committed to coopetition.

paul_portraitThis article was provided by Paul Lomas who is the executive Director of BNI ACT & NSW Tablelands, BNI Brisbane CBD and BNI Brisbane South. Paul joined BNI in 1996 and believes in the power of teamwork, listening and accepting responsibility.

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It’s been a long and eventful year for many businesses, and we are all looking forward to a well-deserved Christmas and New Year’s break.  Festive parties, holiday events in our businesses or with our clients fill our social calendar.  We’re busier than ever socially – and it’s fun!  But… could your chapter suffer?

Silly Season: Keep The Energy Up!

Does your chapter lose momentum as we inch (then suddenly bound!) towards the Holiday Season and Christmas?  Are you worried that your BNI “sales team” might lose focus amidst the festive frivolities, or that you will experience a dwindling number of referrals leading up to (and during) the holiday break?

Fear not!

We have assembled some great tips on how to conquer a possible holiday slump in your chapter, and to keep you and your chapter focussed – while having fun, and a good break.

So, What’s The Problem?

From early December to the Christmas break, and through the (long) period to Australia Day, it can be a tricky time for chapters.

After a year of building a great group, we become pre-occupied with the festivities.  Family and social engagements, plus the need for a break, can create high member absences in December and January, as businesses close and people take annual leave.  Australia slows down, and often even comes to a complete halt until Australia Day.

The potential problem for your BNI chapter is that absences can become a starting point for declining referrals and people dropping out.  So you need to get people back in the weekly habit as quickly as possible after the break.

But even during the holiday break you can keep the momentum going.

Keep It Strong – Keep The Break (and Absences) Short

One of the key elements that differentiates BNI from other networking groups, is its structure – combined with the weekly protocol.  Not unlike a business that has sales meetings each week, the strength of the BNI system lies in the frequency and the accountability it provides.

It’s like going to the gym: once you get out of the habit, it’s hard to get back on track.  It’s human nature.

BNI attendance is no different.

Breaks that run from three, to up to five or even six weeks are a concern.  That is a long time not to see your sales team – and your team not to refresh their memory of your business.

So what to do? The shorter the break your chapter takes – the easier it will be to get back on track.  And the more you continue to engage before and during the break, the better 2013 will be for you, your business, and your chapter.

10 Tips – Before the Break

It is important for the ongoing success of your chapter to close the year on a good, uplifting note.  After a busy and perhaps demanding year, you want to go into the holiday season on a light note that will make all members look forward to returning to the group soon.

Here are some tips on what you can do leading up to and at the last meeting of the year:

  1. Get creative – fun is healthy, and contagious!
  2. Make the last meeting of the year a “thank you!” meeting to acknowledge members’ input – and encourage continuance in the New Year.
  3. Create a secular advent calendar (or two if your group is big) with some treats.  Everybody likes a little surprise to sweeten their day.
  4. Have a champagne breakfast – bubbles go perfectly with those brekkie strawberries!
  5. Decorate your meeting venue. Create some ambience, surprise your chapter.
  6. Have a themed Sales Manager Minute – and have a prize for the best one – or make the last meeting a Holiday Season fancy dress event.
  7. Psst… Organise a Secret Santa.
  8. Do something festive for the 10-minute presentation, like having different members explain their Christmas, Hanukkah, Saint Nicholas Day, etc. traditions, and how they celebrate.
  9. Organise a December social event – a harbour cruise, a lawn bowls afternoon, a BBQ, attending a carols picnic together – the options are endless!  Involve partners and families to create more personal ties.
  10. Remember to be aware of the different religious and cultural backgrounds of your members, and be sensitive to them.

Keep in mind that most members tend to be small businesses, and the majority are owners or sole traders who might not have any other work related festivities planned.  Give them something to look forward to!

Include BNI in Your Holiday Plans – Have Fun!

To keep it humming, you ideally don’t want to close your chapter at all over the holiday period.  But the need for rest and family time might make that too ambitious a goal.

Consider creating opportunities to connect during the holidays in a relaxed atmosphere, especially in your powergroups.

Here are some thoughts and ideas for you and your chapter:

  • Not all companies close at Christmas other than for statutory holidays – so referral opportunities do not stop for long.
  • Continue to meet on your allotted day – but focus on, for example, internal training or projects.
  • Like any business, give your chapter the best start to the New Year – take the opportunity to plan ahead during the break. Together.
  • Encourage powerteams to meet during the ‘closed’ period in lieu of a standard meeting.
  • Be less formal with the meeting – extend the open networking section, have a themed Sales Manager Minute, and use the 10-minute for fun networking tips.
  • Have themed Sales Manager Minute like: “my ideal referral for 2013 is…”
  • Make the first meeting after the break a casual dress day if most people are still on holidays from their work or business.

So, even if you cannot achieve a no-break meeting schedule, try to keep BNI activity up during the break: your referral levels will stay up!

Got Any Tips?… Let us know at social.media@bni.com.au how your chapter is having fun while creating ongoing business during the holiday period.

We like to thank David Cole, BNI Ambassador, 9-year member and current President at BNI Sky Scrapers for his contribution to this article.  David currently serves on the BNI International Board of Advisors, which ensures open communication between our international members and BNI Headquarters.  David is also the founder of management and business consultancy firm Focused Management Business Coaching.

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BNI chapters come in all shapes and sizes and over the last fifteen years during my visits to BNI chapters or speaking at BNI big breakfasts, there are three skills that I have observed all the successful BNI members have.

Let’s call this active BNI member Jack, a busy electrician who does both residential and commercial work. His business and life partner Jane also belongs to another BNI chapter and they credit more than 70% of their business growth to belonging to BNI. As their business has grown, they have also encouraged their staff to attend BNI meetings in their absence. BNI is a big part of the culture of Jack and Jane’s business.

Act Like The Host Not The Guest

Whenever I have met Jack or Jane outside of their chapter meetings, they always engage people as if they were the hosts not the guests. This makes first timers and strangers at other networks feel very welcome and best of all they remember Jack and Jane positively. They don’t always attend the same external events, but they are very busy socially and are basically friendly people.

TIP: The next time you see someone who looks a bit lost or confused; offer your assistance – that’s what hosts do.

Network Outside Of BNI at Least Once a Month

The BNI chapters that consistently attract new members and build solid memberships have members who attend additional networking events every month. These events might range from a golf day or a chamber of commerce event through to a conference. The main reason they do this is to expand their business. The secondary reason is that they meet lots of new business people. And during their conversation with these strangers, they mention BNI and invite that stranger along to a meeting.

TIP: Look around your chapter and identify the members who regularly give multiple referrals every week. Talk to them about the networking events they attend outside of BNI and ask if you can tag along to one of these events. Yes your prime intention is to promote your business AND you can also invite strangers you meet to come along to a BNI chapter meeting. Remember you probably have to ask two to three people to attend BNI, to ensure that one shows up.

They Are the Face Of BNI

Jack and Jane understand that they as individuals are the face of BNI. They are not directors; they are active members, who are committed to BNI as well as their business growth. When they meet people socially or at business events, who have never heard of BNI, they make sure they follow up with them after the event. Even if the stranger is a financial adviser or real estate agent (both popular categories at BNI chapters), they still invite them along to a meeting – as they know new chapters are forming all the time. Most of all Jane and Jack know that they are growing BNI as a whole, not just their own chapter. They believe in abundance firmly knowing there is plenty of members and business for all current and future chapters.

TIP: If one of your guests attends a BNI meeting and decides NOT to join BNI for whatever reason, don’t dismiss them from your network. Over the next twelve months, they will still have a need for the products or services from many of your current members. They can tap those needs through connecting with you and accessing your BNI members. Before you know it, you will be the top referral giver at your chapter.

Givers gain is the BNI mantra and we know it works. Jack and Jane are successful BNI members because they live BNI – they build their business growth around being active members. What about you? Is it time you stepped up? What if you took on these three tips for the next ninety days, what have you got to lose?

Happy networking until next time.

 

Article written by the “Australian Queen of Networking” Robyn Henderson

Global networking specialist, Robyn Henderson has authored and contributed to more than 30 books on networking, self promotion and self esteem building. She has spoken in 12 countries, presents over 150 times per year and has never advertised. All her work comes from networking, referrals, LinkedIn and her website www.networkingtowin.com.au

Have you ever been to a networking event where the goal of everyone around you seems to be to collect as many business cards as quickly as possible?  Wouldn’t it be better to connect with people rather than just collect their contact details?

Yes!  In October, we started our new series on networking, following the huge number of requests to cover this topic.  This month we’re looking at working the room.

But what does ‘working the room’ actually mean?  Here are a few points to keep in mind for doing just that.

Working The Room

As small business owners and members of BNI, we know that referrals drive business.  In fact, for small business owners like us there is no greater endorsement than a personal referral.  And what is the best way to help people make personal referrals to you?  Meet them!

So working the room is simply meeting people and connecting with them.

Look For An Opening

But there are often more people than we can actually meet at networking events.  How do we know who is open to meeting us?

Have a look at the picture below.  Which people would you walk up to?

Open Groups

Some of the people in the picture are standing in open groups, often called ‘Open Vs’ because of their shape.  Just like the letter itself, V-shaped groups allow people to talk while leaving an opening for others to join in.  And as we know, the more people who join the group, the more opportunities we have to connect with them.

Sorry We’re Closed

Some of the people in the picture are standing in closed groups.  They have their backs facing outwards and there is no space for people to join.  Closed groups repel others, which means no opportunities for connecting.

Are You Lost?  Can I Help?

There are a few ‘lost’ people in the picture, standing alone.  When you see a ‘lost’ person, remember the fundamental BNI maxim: Givers Gain®!  The person may be feeling nervous or alone.  Give them your time and attention.  Join them and start a conversation: you never know where it might lead.

Connecting With The Connectors

Standing in open groups and approaching people who look lost, are two good ways to become better networkers.  Another strategy is to connect with the connectors.

What does this mean?  Connectors are people who know hundreds (even thousands) of people.  They are the ones people mention first, and whose names come up time and time again.  Connectors are people who have built huge networks, through meeting and helping people.  They can provide you with a link to a great range of people, ideas, and information.

Keep an ear out for people saying, “You know who could help?  So-and-so, they know everyone!”

But don’t stop at meeting connectors, become a connector.  The easiest way to do this is to help people, to recommend an IT specialist to someone who needs help with their computer, or a great architect to someone renovating their house.  Over time, people will come to you for suggestions, which means you will also be front-of-mind when they need the services you provide.

So, when you are heading to your next chapter meeting or business-networking event, make sure you arrive early and leave late so you have time to work the room.

We all need holidays.  What we don’t need is the hassle of trying to figure out the planes, trains and automobiles to get us there!

Luckily there are travel agents who can do these things for us so our holidays really are holidays.  The benefits of having a travel agent in our BNI chapter extend beyond our own travel needs.  It can really help our businesses too.

So let’s look at why every chapter needs a travel agent, and why every travel agent needs a chapter.

Travel Agents, We Want You! 

So why does every chapter need a travel agent?  Because:

  • Travel agents meet loads of people every day.  There is a high chance they will meet someone who needs what you are offering – and can recommend you.
  • Travel agents know many people – not just in your city, but across Australia, and around the world too.  They have incredible networks which can directly benefit your business.
  • Givers Gain®:  When you refer your friends and colleagues to a good travel agent, they will remember you for making such a good recommendation.
  • Travel agents can assist with your own travel arrangements, whether for business or pleasure.

Every Travel Agent Needs a Chapter 

So every chapter needs a travel agent: fact.  But why does every travel agent need a chapter?

The mutually beneficial relationship between BNI Australia and Travel Counsellors, a travel agency franchise, is a perfect example why every travel agent needs a chapter.

Travel Counsellors has over 1,100 travel agents across six countries.  It has some of the best travel agents in the world, many of whom are also members of their local BNI chapters.

We asked some of these Travel Counsellors why they joined BNI.  Here are their top four reasons:

  1. Because being part of BNI means you have a sales team promoting your business for you.

    “BNI has been one of the principal reasons my business is so successful today.  When I first joined BNI, I discovered a sales team who were as excited about building my business as much as their own.”
    Suzanne McGregor, Travel Counsellors,
    BNI Central, Brisbane QLD.

  2. Because only one travel agent can be a member in each chapter so competition is locked out.
  3. Because being a member of BNI can mean a great increase in referrals.

    “In such a short time BNI has led to over 40% of all my business referrals.”
    Jamie Cooper, Travel Counsellors,
    BNI Accelerate, Ipswich, Brisbane QLD.

  4. Because with increased referrals comes the opportunity for greatly increased income.

    “BNI has truly worked for me and my business.  I have received over $300,000 worth of business in referrals.”
    Ian Silk, Travel Counsellors,
    BNI Advantage, Glen Waverley, VIC.

So as you can see, travel agents and BNI work very well together.

If your chapter has a vacancy in the travel sector, start thinking as a group about how you can find a great travel agent.

It’s been a long and eventful year for many businesses, and we are all looking forward to a well-deserved Christmas and New Year’s break.  Festive parties, holiday events in our businesses or with our clients fill our social calendar.  We’re busier than ever socially – and it’s fun!  But… could your chapter suffer?

Silly Season: Keep The Energy Up!

Does your chapter lose momentum as we inch (then suddenly bound!) towards the Holiday Season and Christmas?  Are you worried that your BNI “sales team” might lose focus amidst the festive frivolities, or that you will experience a dwindling number of referrals leading up to (and during) the holiday break?

Fear not!

We have assembled some great tips on how to conquer a possible holiday slump in your chapter, and to keep you and your chapter focussed – while having fun, and a good break.

So, What’s The Problem?

From early December to the Christmas break, and through the (long) period to Australia Day, it can be a tricky time for chapters.

After a year of building a great group, we become pre-occupied with the festivities.  Family and social engagements, plus the need for a break, can create high member absences in December and January, as businesses close and people take annual leave.  Australia slows down, and often even comes to a complete halt until Australia Day.

The potential problem for your BNI chapter is that absences can become a starting point for declining referrals and people dropping out.  So you need to get people back in the weekly habit as quickly as possible after the break.

But even during the holiday break you can keep the momentum going.

Keep It Strong – Keep The Break (and Absences) Short

One of the key elements that differentiates BNI from other networking groups, is its structure – combined with the weekly protocol.  Not unlike a business that has sales meetings each week, the strength of the BNI system lies in the frequency and the accountability it provides.

It’s like going to the gym: once you get out of the habit, it’s hard to get back on track.  It’s human nature.

BNI attendance is no different.

Breaks that run from three, to up to five or even six weeks are a concern.  That is a long time not to see your sales team – and your team not to refresh their memory of your business.

So what to do? The shorter the break your chapter takes – the easier it will be to get back on track.  And the more you continue to engage before and during the break, the better 2012 will be for you, your business, and your chapter.

10 Tips – Before the Break

It is important for the ongoing success of your chapter to close the year on a good, uplifting note.  After a busy and perhaps demanding year, you want to go into the holiday season on a light note that will make all members look forward to returning to the group soon.

Here are some tips on what you can do leading up to and at the last meeting of the year:

  1. Get creative – fun is healthy, and contagious!
  2. Make the last meeting of the year a “thank you!” meeting to acknowledge members’ input – and encourage continuance in the New Year.
  3. Create a secular advent calendar (or two if your group is big) with some treats.  Everybody likes a little surprise to sweeten their day.
  4. Have a champagne breakfast – bubbles go perfectly with those brekkie strawberries!
  5. Decorate your meeting venue. Create some ambience, surprise your chapter.
  6. Have a themed Sales Manager Minute – and have a prize for the best one – or make the last meeting a Holiday Season fancy dress event.
  7. Psst… Organise a Secret Santa.
  8. Do something festive for the 10-minute presentation, like having different members explain their Christmas, Hanukkah, Saint Nicholas Day, etc. traditions, and how they celebrate.
  9. Organise a December social event – a harbour cruise, a lawn bowls afternoon, a BBQ, attending a carols picnic together – the options are endless!  Involve partners and families to create more personal ties.
  10. Remember to be aware of the different religious and cultural backgrounds of your members, and be sensitive to them.

Keep in mind that most members tend to be small businesses, and the majority are owners or sole traders who might not have any other work related festivities planned.  Give them something to look forward to!

Include BNI in Your Holiday Plans – Have Fun!

To keep it humming, you ideally don’t want to close your chapter at all over the holiday period.  But the need for rest and family time might make that too ambitious a goal.

Consider creating opportunities to connect during the holidays in a relaxed atmosphere, especially in your powergroups.

Here are some thoughts and ideas for you and your chapter:

  • Not all companies close at Christmas other than for statutory holidays – so referral opportunities do not stop for long.
  • Continue to meet on your allotted day – but focus on, for example, internal training or projects.
  • Like any business, give your chapter the best start to the New Year – take the opportunity to plan ahead during the break. Together.
  • Encourage powerteams to meet during the ‘closed’ period in lieu of a standard meeting.
  • Be less formal with the meeting – extend the open networking section, have a themed Sales Manager Minute, and use the 10-minute for fun networking tips.
  • Have themed Sales Manager Minute like: “my ideal referral for 2012 is…”
  • Make the first meeting after the break a casual dress day if most people are still on holidays from their work or business.

So, even if you cannot achieve a no-break meeting schedule, try to keep BNI activity up during the break: your referral levels will stay up!

Got Any Tips?… Let us know at social.media@bni.com.au how your chapter is having fun while creating ongoing business during the holiday period.

We like to thank David Cole, BNI Ambassador, 9-year member and current President at BNI Sky Scrapers for his contribution to this article.  David currently serves on the BNI International Board of Advisors, which ensures open communication between our international members and BNI Headquarters.  David is also the founder of management and business consultancy firm Focused Management Business Coaching.

“BNI has so many policies – why?”, some of you have asked us over the past month. So in this Question Corner we are explaining why BNI is a system based on a comprehensive list of rules – and how you benefit from them.

Many Aspects, Many Proven Rules

Let’s look at the “many” in this question first:  What areas does BNI have policies for?  The BNI system has proven rules and recommendations around:

  • Joining
  • Attending
  • Referring
  • Training
  • The Weekly Meeting
  • Leadership

As you can see: there are many parts that contribute to creating a successful networking and word-of-mouth marketing group.  While there may be “many” rules at first glance, policies to govern the principles under which a group comes together and decides to do business are crucial for achieving a common vision – and for the group’s success.

Look at it this way:

You would not accept or start a job without having seen a job description and salary offer.  So why would you want to join a networking group (= job) that has no direction, no expectations of its members, no way to measure its efforts (= no job description) – or can’t articulate the likely reward (= salary) you will receive for your hard work?

Structure = Foundation of Success

Cold calling only gets you so far… In 1985 Dr Ivan Misner assembled a group of business friends that understood each other’s businesses well.  Their aim:  to work on building their businesses through networking and word-of-mouth marketing.  Their experience and practical input created a system that could be passed on.  BNI was born.

What was – and still is – so unlike other networking groups about BNI, is that BNI provides its members with a structure and a plan based on their needs, which enables them to network in an effective and professional manner.

Membership Rules!

Rules without a reason or purpose are of no use.  Policies must serve the common goal of an organization.  And every rule in BNI is aimed at enabling its members to understand, practice and benefit from Givers Gain®.

As a member, how do you benefit from the BNI rules and system?

Here are 10 examples:

  1. No Competition:  Only one person from each professional category is permitted to join a chapter of BNI.
  2. Sales Team Commitment: Members must represent their primary occupation, not a part-time business.  An individual member can only be a member of one BNI chapter at any time.
  3. High VCP:  The weekly meetings last for 90 minutes. Members need to arrive on time and stay for the entire meeting.
  4. Continuity/Trust:  If a member cannot attend a weekly meeting, they should send a substitute.
  5. Business Opportunities: Members are required to bring bona-fide referrals and visitors.
  6. Earned Access to VCP: Visitors may attend chapter meetings up to two times only.
  7. Sales Team Attendance: There should be no leaves of absence, except for medical reasons.
  8. Recognising Your Effort: Individual PALMS and chapter tracking keeps you and your sales team accountable – and recognises everyone’s hard work on each other’s behalf.
  9. Smooth Sailing: Clearly outlined expectations make it easier to run the chapter professionally, based on merit, and not personal preferences.
  10. Support:  All new members must attend Member Success Program (MSP) training in their region within the first 60 days of joining.

The BNI Meeting Agenda

Some new members and visitors ask why the meeting agenda is so “strict”, referring to the set rules on how to run the meeting.

The answer to the “why?” is simple – discipline creates value.

There is a lot of information, content and value contained in each weekly meeting:

  • Visibility for members/visitors (business cards, 60-second & 10-minute presentations)
  • Credibility (referrals, raps, and presentation)
  • Profitability & Measurement (referrals and closed business)
  • Accountability (VP and Treasurer Reports, Referral Reality Check)
  • Training (MSP, etc.)
  • Social Connection (events)

There are only 90 minutes available weekly that need to be used effectively.  To lead a group of 25 to 75 people orderly (!) through a meeting of that length, and provide value to all participants – now that requires discipline.

Conclusion: No Structure, No Givers Gain® 


Please send us your questions for next month’s Question Corner to
social.media@bni.com.au   

Oct
22

One For the Team

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Brent Edwards on How Holding Yourself Accountable Creates Winning Chapters

Think of your favourite team sport during a crucial match for a moment. What would happen if the members of that team were not committed or held accountable for the role they are there to fulfil? Their team would probably lose the game.

Now, as a supporter, would you feel disappointed? Feel that you were ripped off? Would you be angry with those people? Of course you would be.

Team Players Are Winners

Accountability is the state of being accountable, responsible, liable, or answerable. In a sports environment, the functioning of a team is reliant on everyone in the group performing their role. Consistently and diligently. If they don’t, performance of the whole team flags. The underperforming team member will eventually be dropped from the team, and replaced with someone who will show the accountability required.

Are You Looking After Your BNI Teammates?

Accountability and commitment are also critical within your BNI Chapter. What did you sign up for when you joined a BNI group? I think of my BNI group as my teammates, BNI as the field of play – and the Referral Business as the goal.

Your membership is meant to deliver cooperation from other like-minded business people (i.e. your team) to help you and your fellow players tap into new business opportunities in the structured environment of the BNI System.

Accountability = Success

Successful groups, in which all members benefit through acceptable returns on their investments, consistently have high accountability among members. They work on the BNI Givers Gain® reciprocal benefit principal: if I help you, you likely help me, and we both win as a result.

How To Make Accountability Work For You

So how do you know if you are accountable enough in your chapter, creating a winning team? Check your PALMS (Present, Absent, Late, Medical Leave, Substitute) statistics on your BNI chapter’s website (Members Section).

A good rule of thumb to determine whether, as member, you have contributed enough to the chapter and are truly a team player, is to achieve the following:

  • A least 1 referral per week,
  • 1 One2One Dance Card every 2 weeks, and
  • 1 visitor per month, as a minimum participation requirement.

Your chapter size, location, and goals may mean that you will vary from the above, but these are absolute minimum requirements in my opinion.

Together Everyone Achieves More

BNI is all about T.E.A.M. (Together Everyone Achieves More – which you have probably heard of before). So why not put some accountability measures in place for your chapter, to make sure everyone in your BNI group is committedly contributing to each other’s success.

Because when your BNI team wins you, too, will make more money.

Brent is BNI Australia’s longest serving BNI Director, and Executive Director of BNI Melbourne South. You can contact him at brent.edwards@bni.com.au.