The Secrets To Building A Strong BNI Chapter


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

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