Archive for Chapter Growth

With the new year underway, now is the perfect time to make plans.  And no doubt all of our plans for 2012 include growing our businesses.  And what’s one of the best ways to do that?  To grow our BNI chapters, of course!

Because the stronger our chapters, the stronger our businesses.

With this in mind, we are looking at one of the strongest performing BNI chapters, BNI All About Business (“AAB”) in Sydney.  It is one of the most successful chapters in the history of BNI in Australia.

Not only do Givers Gain® within BNI chapters, but Givers Gain® between chapters too.  So in the true BNI spirit, Roland Hanekroot, author of “The Ten Truths for Raising a Healthy Bouncy Business” and Small Business Coach at BNI All About Business, shared the secrets of his chapter’s transformation with Paul McKinley from BNI Referral Partners.

BNI All About Business: The Stats

  • Members: approx. 55
  • Visitors (monthly average): ca. 30
  • Closed Business (per week): ca. $150,000

Roland Hanekroot: The Stats

  • Member of BNI All About Business for 5 years
  • Positions held on the Leadership Committee: Most of them!
  • Currently he is a member of the AAB Membership Committee; a founding-member of the AAB-unique Strategic Advisory Board (“SAB”), which is doing great work on the AAB vision and brand; and a key-member of the AAB Marketing Committee that implements the chapter’s long-term branding vision.
  • As a BNI Assistant Director, Roland successfully launched another Sydney chapter, CBD Enterprise.  This group got off to a flying start with over 30 members in the first few months, and over $159,000 in closed business in 3 months!

The Secrets To BNI Success

Sometimes when we read articles about the “secrets to success” the answers are vague and impractical.  The beauty of BNI, by contrast, is that is has a clear system that can be followed, step by step.  Following the system inevitably leads to success, as the BNI All About Business Chapter discovered.

From Roland Hankroot’s experience, the secrets of the success of All About Business fall into three main categories:

  1. The leadership of the chapter,
  2. The members’ commitment to each other and the BNI system, and
  3. The level of accountability across the chapter.

Let’s look at these categories more closely.

1. The Leadership Of The Chapter 

Roland believes that your Leadership Team is paramount to the growth and success of your chapter.

While all BNI members must be passionate, committed, and embrace the BNI philosophy, Roland believes this is doubly true for the Leadership Team.

The Leadership Team sets the tone and standards for the whole chapter.  And their passion and enthusiasm are contagious.

a. The Membership Committee: Protecting The Chapter

Roland believes the Membership Committee is a crucial part of the Leadership Team.  They are the gatekeepers of the chapter and must ensure only the best and most appropriate candidates in each category obtain a place.

Roland recommends the Membership Committee:

  1. Shouldn’t worry about paying “Mr/Ms Nice Guy” – having to make though decisions is part of being on this committee.
  2. Should ask “passengers” (people who rarely give referrals and are otherwise not active members) to leave the chapter.  Roland explains that allowing passengers to remain sends the wrong message to other members and lowers morale.

If your chapter’s growth and closed business have stalled for months, Roland says, it is better to cut back members until only the truly committed remain. Then build the chapter again from there.

b. The Education Co-Ordinator: Targeting Gaps In Knowledge

The Leadership Team in All About Business has found the Education Co-Ordinator can play a crucial role in the success of the chapter.

Why?  Because the Leadership Team can work with the Education/Chapter Growth Co-Ordinator to ensure that the education segments are targeted to areas the members really need help with.

Such areas might include how members can network with their Power Teams, or the best ways to find and invite visitors.

All About Business has found that the more informed members are about BNI and all aspects of word-of-mouth marketing, the better everyone performs.

2. Members’ Commitment To The BNI System

The next area Roland Hanekroot highlights for BNI success is the commitment of the chapter’s members to each other and the BNI System.

In the All About Business Chapter there are three main areas members must commit to:

  1. Dances: Members should have at leastone dance per week.Referral networking only works if you spend time with your fellow chapter members and learn about their businesses.
  2. Referrals: Members should pass at leastone referral per week.The purpose of chapter meetings is to be a “Tradeshow”, a forum to introduce the member’s businesses to the wider community. A healthy chapter that generates lots of business has lots of visitors.
  3. Visitors: Members should bring at least one visitor per month.The purpose of chapter meetings is to introduce visitors; so if everyone brings a visitor, everyone benefits.

3. Accountability: Everyone Wins

Accountability is key to the success of every BNI chapter.  We can have all sorts of great rules – but if no-one sticks to them, our chapters won’t be strong and our businesses won’t grow.

As Roland confirms, accountability has been key to the success of All About Business.

The most effective tool in Roland Hanekroot’s chapter to keep its members accountable is the monthly “Fives Report”.

How does it work?

Members must gain a minimum of 5 points each month, which can come from:

  • Passing a referral: 1 point
  • Bringing a visitor: 1 point
  • Having a dance: 1 point for each dance
  • Undertaking a volunteer role: 1 point
  • Attending an official BNI Event or BNI Education / Seminar: 1 point

If a member is absent from a meeting without organizing a substitute they lose 1 point.

At the end of every month, the results are tabulated and members’ performance is listed in order of the number of points they have achieved.  If a member has not improved their performance after being notified of low results, and earns less than five points for three months running, their category is declared vacant.

It’s not “Mr/Ms Nice Guy” but it helps to get everyone involved and on the straight and narrow!

Grow Your Own Chapter in 2012!

There are many tips here from BNI All About Business that we can adopt and adapt for our own chapter to boost its success.

So get ready for 2012, and talk to your fellow members about how you can work together to grow your chapters.  It will lead to your businesses growing, too.

Categories : Chapter Growth
Comments (0)

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.

Have you ever walked into a party where you didn’t know anyone and found yourself greeted with a friendly smile and some helpful introductions?  Then you have met someone who would make a great BNI Visitor Host!

Visitor Hosts are a fundamental part of your Leadership Team and vitally important to the growth of your chapter.  This month we take a closer look at who they are and what they do.

BNI Visitor Hosting: It’s a Team Effort

As your BNI chapter can expect to welcome more than one visitor each week, your team of Visitor Hosts needs to be large enough to properly look after each guest.  The expected number of visitors depends on the size of your chapter, of course, and how active members are in bringing guests to your weekly meetings.

Your chapter’s Visitor Hosts also need to organize the team to look after different aspects of Visitor Hosting: greeting, orientation, and follow up.

The larger the chapter, the more Visitor Hosts you need to appoint.  Both – ensuring individual attention is given to each visitor, and distributing the workload – mean that chapters should have at least three Visitor Hosts to share the tasks, and to be able to concentrate on high quality hosting.

Because it’s professional, it’s polite – and because happy visitors are great referrers!

Meeting And Greeting

Your chapter’s Visitor Hosts are the first people a guest (and potential new member) meets when they visit your chapter.

They greet new arrivals and help them feel welcome.  Visitor Hosts make sure guests have a cup of tea or coffee, and explain how the meeting will run.  And because Visitor Hosts are expert networkers, they introduce guests to key people to get the networking ball rolling.

Making Introductions: Everybody Wins

A good Visitor Host finds out which businesses a guest is looking to connect with – but they also establish which members might benefit from meeting the guest.  Then the Visitor Host brings them together, introducing guest and relevant members.

Even with only little information available, clued-in Visitor Hosts know to introduce a visitor to representatives of the power team the guest’s business would most likely complement.

Either way, introductions made by the Visitor Hosts enable members and guests to network before the actual meeting begins.  Everyone will get the most out of pre-meeting networking – visitor, member, and your chapter.

Visitor Hosts ensure the President has the visitors’ details so they can be individually introduced to the chapter.

Perhaps most importantly for these potential new members, Visitor Hosts explain the Sales Manager Minute (a.k.a. 60 Seconds Infomercial), and the opportunity each guest has to share their business and ideal referral request with the group.

After The Meeting: Orientation & Follow Up

Visitor Hosts not only play a fundamental role in greeting visitors at the start of each chapter meeting, they also help visitors after meetings, both immediately and in the days following.

At the end of each meeting, Visitor Hosts join up with guests for a brief Visitor Orientation.  This orientation is the perfect opportunity for guests to ask questions and for Visitor Hosts to talk them through the application process.

During the orientation, Visitors Hosts should:

  • Thank the visitors for coming
  • Explain the commitments of membership
  • Handout the BNI Visitor Packs
  • Explain the application process and help visitors complete the application form
  • Collect application forms
  • Ask visitors to fill out the confidential meeting evaluation form

And because Visitor Hosts are such welcoming people, they phone new visitors a day or two after the meeting to check if they have any questions or need help with the application form.

So The Best Visitor Hosts Are…

A whole range of people!  From members who love to greet new people to those who can’t stop themselves talking about how BNI has boosted their business.

While it is important for the group of Visitor Hosts serving on the Leadership Team at any one time to have different talents, they do all share one important understanding: that by growing their chapter they are growing their own business. One inevitably flows from the other.

So Are You Ready To Be A Host With The Most?

Like the sound of being one of the welcoming faces of your chapter and increasing to your visibility and creditability?  Great!  Talk to your Leadership Team about becoming a Visitor Host.

Comments (1)

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   

There’s a great trivia game you can play on long car trips called ‘Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon’. It’s based on the ‘six degrees of separation’ idea, saying that any actor is linked to actor Kevin Bacon through their film roles – within six steps (and we challenge you to find an actor this doesn’t work with!).

An amazing idea, but what does all this have to do with BNI?

The Power of ‘Friend of a Friend’ Referrals

The idea that everyone is connected through six other people highlights the power of ‘friend of a friend’ referrals, which is exactly what BNI thrives on. Now that August and September are upon us and we are right in the middle of our annual National Membership Drive, the idea of how far and how wide we can reach across our networks has gained added importance.

Getting Involved in the New Members Drive

So this month we challenge you to do something within your chapter to help build your chapter, and make use of the countless possibilities that BNI membership allows.

1. Take a Family-Approach

Band together with two or three other chapters to host a joint visitors day.

Several chapters from the BNI Gold Coast region recently held just such an event. Three smaller chapters joined together, generating 20 visitors between them, and achieving a total of 60 people at the event. Not only did this mean increased energy in the room and greater visibility for the members, but it also led to several visitors applying for membership on the day. A very successful event.

2. Build Your Power Team

Did you know that BNI members get 67% of their referrals from members of their Power Team (groups of related businesses that share target clients, but don’t compete with each other)?

You could organise a Power Team Drive (like Glenn Kirkwood’s Power Team Program) to boost the number of members in your Power Team. Under Glenn’s 2010 program, for example, chapters that took on six new members across any of their power teams won $1,000 (in addition to getting more business). Another great result.

3. Offer a Motivating Prize

A case of wine, a bundle of cash, or anything else appropriately enticing you can think of. Offer it to the person in your chapter who brings the most visitors before 30 September. Watch your numbers increase!

Onwards & Upwards

So this month we encourage you to use the collective networks within and outside your chapters to generate new members and grow your businesses. And if we are all connected by six degrees of separation, you just never know who might know someone who knows Kevin Bacon (who might need a plumber, and an accountant, and a masseuse, and… )!

Categories : Chapter Growth
Comments (0)

Want to increase your referrals and the closed business of the Chapter?

For some Chapters 30% of their closed business comes from visitors! So here are some inviting tips based on the GRIP of inviting:

G – Are you looking to GROW your business?
R – Would REFERRALS help you grow your business?
I – If I was to INVITE you to meet other business professionals that may want to refer you, would you want to meet them?
P – Meet me at (PLACE) at (date & time).

When there is a follow-up question such as “tell me more” or “what is this about”? The best way to answer this is to simply say: “This is my inner circle of business associates. We work together to find business for each other and we are looking for a (insert profession) to pass business to. Are you interested in meeting them?”

Lets face it members are doing the visitor a favour by inviting them, especially if they are looking to grow their business. There can only be one person per profession in the chapter and they are giving that person the opportunity to be that person. This is a privilege.

What are the common objections?
• Meeting is too early
• It cost too much
• I’m too busy
• I’m already networking
• I don’t need it

These types of objections are often raised when the person doing the inviting has said too much, so less is better. Visitors need to see, hear and experience BNI before they can make an informed decision about commitment. When you are asked for more information, try to stick to the tried and proven “These are people that are in my inner circle of business associates, would you like to meet them?” This is usually followed with a positive response. Members need to allow the meeting to sell itself. Once all the necessary information is provided in the usual proven BNI way, visitors can then make an informed decision on what is best for them.

Categories : Chapter Growth
Comments (0)

Are you a member of your local Chamber of Commerce?

In Ivan Misner’s book the 29% Solution he recommends that to be successful in networking you need to diversify where you are spending your networking time. He discusses the benefits of Referral Networking Groups (BNI), Professional & Trade Associations and of course Chambers of Commerce.

Being active in your local Chamber of Commerce is a good strategy and an effective way to convey to customers that your business is reputable and keen to be a part of the wider community.

It is no secret that membership of the local Chamber of Commerce provides business owners with up to date information on issues that affect their local area and a voice to lobby for the changes to grow a strong economic community.

Many Chambers of Commerce are recognised by Government as a great contributor with initiatives that change a local area. Chambers are at the forefront of business activity and a recognised force in an economic region.

Chambers provide group buying power, cheaper insurance and power purchases. Networking with colleagues, annual trade shows, social events are a few of the benefits for BNI Members joining their local Chamber of Commerce

BNI Power Groups who attend the same Chamber of Commerce have an added bonus of emitting a powerful presence and business marketing advantage. The simple fact that members have a strong relationship and can confidently introduce and recommend each other positions them as ‘connected’ people, people of influence.

They are also a great source of visitors to your chapter.

Once you have honed your Leadership skills at a BNI Meeting taking on a role in the Chamber will be second nature. Becoming a leader at the Chamber will raise your visibility and credibility in your local community.

Chambers of Commerce are actively looking for keynote speakers, so practice your skills at BNI and get your message out there.

Remember success in networking comes down to increasing your visibility and credibility which in turn will increase your profitability. Join your local chamber, get involved and reap the rewards.

A look inside BNI All About Business who increased their membership from 27 to 50 in 6 months and increased their Closed Business by 450%

In his book Good to Great, Jim Collins examined 1,435 companies over 40 years and found 11 who had made the leap from good-to-great, whilst others within their industry were unable to do this.

Does this sound like your BNI Chapter? Is your Chapter ‘good’, but it earnestly desires to be ‘great’ – and how do you make the leap? Let’s examine how one Chapter that has moved from good-to-great recently, what makes them stand out and get outstanding results, whilst truly embodying the principles of BNI and “Givers Gain®”. Here are the of the initiatives taken on board by BNI All About Business that gave them the momentum to successful make the leap:-

What’s Happening Now? – Confront the Brutal Facts:

Jim Collin’s explains in his book that you can’t improve the situation if you don’t do a reality check and face the brutal facts. The changes for BNI All About Business started with the new Leadership Team, who quickly realised at leadership team training that their chapter wasn’t all they thought it was. In recent months they had lost many high quality members and didn’t want to let this continue. They did an honest assessment of the chapter, looking at the fundamentals and identifying members who were contributing positively to the values and systems – and more importantly – who were not! Once they had the ‘brutal facts’ to hand, they were able to work on how to create the chapter they desired. Over the first two months, they dropped seven non performing members. We all know – BNI isn’t for everyone, and not everyone can be on the winning team, but a winning team needs ‘all hands on deck’. Each of these Leaders, and those around them, exhibited the courage to make the decisions that were needed. They knew they were making the right decisions for the right reasons based on the facts they had the courage to gather.

Vision and Focus:

The changes started with the new Leadership Team creating a vision for how their new chapter would look and work. The first step was to take the 10 min presentation section and went over what’s working and what could be improved. The lights went on, and they were able to get the Chapter’s buy in. All members were focused and clear on what was expected and how they had to perform. The dynamics changed as they started to look at their Chapter as a business opportunity, rather than just a club!

Accountability – Culture of Discipline:

The chapter members know that each and every one of them are accountable to themselves, and the Chapter. A “BNI Fives System” was introduced – based on the fundamentals of BNI:-

1. Attendance
2. Referrals
3. Dance Cards (one-to-ones)
4. Visitors
5. Contribution

Members must remain above 5 points each month and are reviewed regularly by the Leadership Team. Those that fall below are mentored to improve performance, and if that doesn’t get results, they are removed from the chapter. The system keeps all members at the highest performing level which not only benefits each member but the whole chapter. Think about it for a minute! Why do most ‘good intentions’ fail? Because they lack accountability – they fail to achieve credibility and they have no authenticity. BNI All About Business is committed to accountability.

Finding the Right People – First Who, Then What:

BNI All About Business then introduced a system in which they are finding the best quality members for their chapter. Adopting the attitude of “membership is a privilege’, even if a category was available, it had to go to the right person! One who gets what BNI is about and what the Chapter is about. They want people who were willing to be a part of “all hands on deck”.

Once a potential member wants to join, they are invited to submit an application and then – undertake an evaluation process before being accepted. Over the next four meetings they undergo a mentoring and assessment process. The BNI system, commitment and expectations are clearly set during this time – so all applicants know where they stand and what is expected of them. Currently 10-20% of the applications don’t make the cut.

Always on Show and Always “In Business”:

The chapter has adopted the “Trade Show” mentality. You know how it gets with business, everything is just the ‘norm’ until you are doing a big presentation or attending a trade show, so you dust off the suit, get your presentation folders printed, as you are determined to make an impeccable impression! And of course, you know when you put in the effort, you get the sales. Imagine doing this each and every week! How much better would your business be? BNI All About Business have made each week a “Trade Show” week. A “Trade Show” needs:

• Every stand (seat) represented – you must attend or send a substitute
• Every representative must have a hosting/sales attitude
• Visitors – an essential element to a trade show – as without them it’s a non event.
• All representatives must wear their name badge

Categories & Power Teams – No More Category Cowboys!

One of the biggest killers of your BNI chapter is ‘category cowboys’ who think they do everything in their particular industry. Not at BNI All About Business! They have several broad traditional categories represented by two or more people or are seeking applications, ie:-

2 builders
2 accountants
2 coaches
5 in the IT industry!

Yes – that’s not a typo. So how do they do it? The Leadership Team is clear, and each member is fully aware of what is and what isn’t their category – ie one is a builder – commercial and another is a builder – domestic . They have adopted an ‘abundance’ mentality and not the ‘poverty mentality’ of the category cowboys (“I’m missing out!”). Instead the lights have gone on – and they have realised the power and opportunity to build really effective power teams, which benefit them and creates even more growth for their businesses. Working with power teams allows members to focus on what they are really good at and are passionate about in their industry.

The Results – Would you like this for your chapter?

• Increased chapter members from 27 – 50+ in 6 months with a goal to be at 60 members by the start of 2011

• Chapter churn rate has decreased to under 20%

• Increased closed business 450% from $17,000 per week to $123,000 per week over same period last year

• 98.7% attendance over the last three months

• 8 -12 visitors each and every week

• multiple applications for the same category allowing them to choose the best people for their chapter

Fundamentals – The Flywheel Effect:

The main reason a business owner joins BNI is because we provide a structured system to enable them to grow their businesses by referrals, share ideas and contacts. It’s the fundamentals of the system which make it work. All of steps taken by BNI All About Business aren’t new or different, they are based on the fundamentals of the BNI system which has been tried and tested for the last 25 years.

Jim Collin’s talks about the “The Flywheel Effect”:
“Now picture a huge, heavy flywheel. It’s a massive, metal disk mounted horizontally on an axle. It’s about 100 feet in diameter, 10 feet thick, and it weighs about 25 tons. That flywheel is your company. Your job is to get that flywheel to move as fast as possible, because momentum — mass times velocity — is what will generate superior economic results over time.”

It’s the same for Chapters! BNI All About Business took the fundamentals, made many small initiatives, implemented these with accountability and drive, created momentum and were able to generate superior results over time. By following the system and keeping members accountable to the system – truly great chapters emerge.

Do you know the definition of insanity?

Doing the same thing over and over, yet expecting a different result! Chapters don’t magically achieve what BNI All About Business did – it requires some change, driven by the Leadership Team, and depends on the support of the members for their involvement, ideas and engagement to make it work. To start the momentum:

- confront the facts;
- create a vision and get focused;
- commit to accountability and discipline;
- find the right people;
- always be on show;
- create powerful power-teams.

So, the questions for you and your chapter is:

Which fundamentals could be improved?
Which systems do you have in place within your chapter to keep your members accountable?

Leave your comments below so we can all learn and grow together.

Categories : Chapter Growth
Comments (4)