Joining a BNI® chapter will absolutely have a significant impact on your business - as long as you’re willing to put in the work. Whether you’re a veteran BNI® member or a newbie, there are a few things you can do to ensure you get the most out of your BNI® membership.
When you first join a BNI® chapter, preparing for your weekly one-minute presentations in advance is a must. You’re joining a group of people who will be committed to finding referrals for you, so it’s important to spend time crafting a presentation that teaches them how to do that.
But guess what? The importance of preparing for these weekly presentations doesn’t stop after you get the hang of it. Building trust in the beginning is crucial to developing relationships with your chapter members, but it shouldn’t stop there.
In order to continue receiving referrals from your chapter members, you have to consistently show your dedication to the group. When you show your commitment to helping other members grow their businesses, they’ll be more likely to want to help you grow yours. They can only help you if you show them how, and this starts with coming to each meeting with a carefully crafted presentation.
Inviting visitors to BNI® meetings doesn’t come easy to everyone, especially in the beginning of your membership. It takes some time to become comfortable explaining the value of attending a BNI® meeting, and for some, it’s completely out of their comfort zone.
However, think of it this way. There may be someone out there who is struggling to get quality referrals for their business, and BNI® may be a great fit for them. Also, there’s no obligation for visitors to join, so you’re basically offering visitors a (free) chance to share their product/service with a room full of people who are well-trained in finding referrals for people.
Plus, you’re giving everyone in your chapter a chance to share their businesses with an outside visitor, who might be able to find them referrals. Or, they may even want to refer themselves to a member of your group.
And, finally - what if they decide to join the group? Wouldn’t it feel great to help that one person out there who could really benefit from what BNI® has to offer?
New BNI® members and long-time members alike often dismiss the value of one-to-ones. After the first couple of one-to-ones with the same person, it’s easy to feel like you’ve run out of things to talk about. However, that’s simply not true.
More likely, you’ve come to the point in your membership when you have to put in a little more work. You’ve already had conversations around getting to know the members of your chapter personally. You’ve moved on to hearing about their businesses and what types of referrals they’re looking for. So, what’s next?
Would you consider yourself an expert on what everyone in your group does? Probably not. Is there more you can learn from each of the members of your group to help you find better and more referrals for them? Yes - the answer to this is always, yes.
The more you learn about other members’ businesses and can talk about what they have to offer, the easier your job of finding referrals for them becomes. And, the opposite is certainly true. The more others learn about your business and can talk about it to others naturally, the more likely they are to refer you.
So, keep the conversations going, and don’t fall into the habit of thinking there’s nothing left to talk about.
As a BNI® member, one of the first things you learn about is the Power of One. Part of that philosophy involves keeping up with your Chapter Education Units (CEUs). If you do one hour per week, you’re keeping up with the Power of One philosophy, and that’s awesome.
However, the amount of information accessible in BNI® University is expansive, and it’s all included in your membership. You can listen to podcasts, presentations, webinars, in-person training, and more, at no added cost. Plus, these trainings are all being hosted by people who own or have owned successful businesses, and who have leveraged the BNI® network to help them bring their business to where it is today.
So, why not do an extra CEU (or more) from time to time? You can listen on your lunch break, while on your way to the doctor’s office, en route to a client meeting, or while brushing your teeth. BNI® has made it extremely easy and convenient to benefit from the content they’ve developed, and you couldn’t possibly consume all of it in your lifetime.
If you’re doing all of the above, you’re likely getting a ton out of your BNI® membership, and that’s great. However, there’s another thing worth mentioning, if you’re looking to get even more out of your membership, and that’s to visit other chapters.
If you live in an area where there are multiple chapters within a reasonable commute, why not pick a chapter to visit each month or each quarter? It’s a little over an hour of your time, and you’ll get to meet a whole new group of professionals with a similar mindset to yours.
Plus, as a BNI® member, there’s a chance that you could get referrals just from one visit. Or, you may acquire a relational referral, which could help you down the road. Sure, there’s also a chance that you won’t get any referrals, but you will meet new people, hear about new businesses, and most likely - learn something new.
Remember, if you’re looking to maximize your BNI® membership, try a few (or all) of the suggestions above:
Now, go schedule some one-to-ones!