Congratulations! You’ve taken a remarkable step toward building your business by visiting a local BNI Chapter! In case you were not aware, BNI is the most successful structured networking organization in the world. With over 280,000 members worldwide, joining BNI plugs members in to a massive network of local professionals with whom to pass warm referrals and build relationships. Here are a few highlights of BNI:
So here are some things you’ll need to know in order to make the most of your first visit to a BNI chapter:
As you’re meeting new people in the BNI chapter, you might be thinking, “Oh! This person would be a great prospect for my business!” This might be true, and it’s absolutely a good idea to reach out to those people you feel could benefit from your offering. However, keep in mind that a successful BNI member is one who sells “through” (not “to”) their chapter partners. The beauty of your BNI connections is that each of them has a network of hundreds of people with whom they interact on a daily and weekly basis. The potential for business that can be generated from those networks is far greater than that which can be generated from the individual members in your group. Therefore, focus on building relationships and trust before focusing on selling to the individual members.
During weekly BNI meetings, each member and visitor gets to address the group about their business for roughly 60 seconds (this varies slightly depending on group size). This is known as the “Weekly Presentation.” Be specific, concise, and rehearse a few times beforehand. Your weekly presentation should include the following elements.
Many “first-time” BNI visitors are surprised, and often overwhelmed, by the number of people they meet. Be prepared to take notes on those members with whom you’re most interested in connecting.
If your chapter is meeting in person, you’ll want to bring plenty of business cards to hand out to everyone. If your chapter is meeting virtually, be sure to have your contact information handy to share in the virtual “Chat.” Additionally, request a copy of the chapter roster so you can easily contact everyone you meet following the meeting. Anybody on the leadership team (President, VP or Secretary/Treasurer) will be able to provide this.
Each BNI Chapter has a visitor host team that is in charge of making all visitors feel welcomed and comfortable. These are amazing people who will answer all of your questions and introduce you to those members with whom you’d like to connect. At the end of each chapter meeting, there will be a visitor orientation designed to help you get all of your questions answered.
Like all goals, your goal for your first BNI meeting should be tangible and specific. For instance, here are a few:
That’s it! With this 7-point checklist, you will be set up for great success in your first BNI meeting! For more information or to find a chapter, please visit bniorl.com or visit us on Facebook at https://facebook.com/BNICentralFL/