Dr. Misner has just returned from BNI’s global conference in Malaysia to tell us about BNI’s traditions. In this episode, we hear about the first half of the chapter; the second have comes in Episode 59.
The Mission of BNI
Any discussion of BNI’s traditions has to begin with the mission: to help members increase their business through a structured, positive, and professional word-of-mouth program that enables them to develop long-term, meaningful relationships with quality business professionals. It’s important to remember that because people often suggest that BNI should be doing other things, which are good things, but not part of the mission.
BNI accomplishes its mission through the philosophy of “Givers Gain:” when you contribute to the success of others, that will contribute to you. That’s why every new member gets a copy of the book. Dr. Misner illustrates this with a story of a prize-winning Nebraska farmer who won the State Fair four years in a row by giving away his specially developed seed to his neighbor.
Training and Education
This is one of the most important traditions of BNI. BNI spends hundreds of thousands of person-hours a year training members, and that’s one of the main reasons BNI is the world’s most successful networking association. Participate in as many trainings as possible.
Keeping the Fun in the Fundamentals
Never forget about having fun. Chapters that have fun are always the strongest. Meeting stimulants can really help with this. Try the NAT Radio exercise, or the candy bar exercise. Talk to your leadership team if you’re not familiar with these.
Brought to you by Networking Now.
Complete Transcription of BNI Podcast Episode 058 –
Hello everyone. Welcome back to the official BNI Podcast brought to you by Networkingnow.com the leading sight on the net for networking downloadables. I’m Priscilla Rice, and I’m coming to you from Live Oak Recording Studio in Berkley, California. I’m joined on the phone today by the founder and the chairman of BNI, Dr. Ivan Misner. Hello Ivan, it’s so nice to have you on the phone today.
Hi Priscilla, it’s great to be on. I just got back from BNI’s global conference in Malaysia, and what an incredible experience it was. Hundreds and hundreds of BNI members from dozens of countries from around the world were there. Members, whenever you see conferences like this, take a good look at them, because it’s a good way to network with people worldwide.
Wow, you’ve been doing a lot of traveling.
Yes, it comes with the territory. We’re now in almost 40 countries.
Wow! What are you going to share with us today?
Today I’m going to talk about my absolute favorite chapter in the book, Givers Gain. Listeners of the podcast know that I’ve been going through the book chapter by chapter, Givers Gain and talking about different elements of the book so that you have something to go along with as you’re reading it. My personal take on what’s in the book as you go through and read it. This one chapter 10, BNI Traditions, is really my favorite chapter. So much so that I’m going to take two episodes to cover this one. I’m going to go through the first half of chapter10, BNI Traditions, in this episode and then next week I’ll be covering the second half.
I want to talk a little about the basic culture of BNI, the philosophy, the mission. Then I want to talk about the philosophy, Givers Gain, and then I want to talk about training and education. If time permits, I would like to talk a little about keeping the fun in the fundamentals in this particular episode. Let’s get started with the mission of the organization. I think we keep the culture of BNI alive by constantly training and retraining members and leadership teams on the organization and the traditions. It is one of the things that really sets this organization aside from other companies. I think any discussion of the traditions has to begin with the mission of the organization. The mission of BNI is to help members increase their business through a structured, positive and professional word of mouth program that enables them to develop long term meaningful relationships with quality business professionals. I think that’s key. One of the reasons it’s important to know that is, often times many people think BNI should be doing this or should be doing that. For example, here’s one I get a lot. We should be teaching people how to be better speakers. That’s a great mission. But that’s Toastmasters mission. That’s not BNI’s mission. Toastmaster’s does it better than we do and they probably always will.
We’ve been very good about staying on mission. Our mission is to help people increase business through a structured word of mouth marketing program. That’s it. We do that with a philosophy that is really, really powerful, so powerful that we named this book by that philosophy. The central philosophy of BNI has pretty much from day one been the concept of Givers Gain. If I give you business, you’ll give me business and we’ll all do better as a result of it. It’s based on the social capital theory of the law of reciprocity, that by working together we all support and help one another. That philosophy pretty much evolved from the very beginning. The first year or so we didn’t use that expression. We have a corny saying, this unwritten loyalty of we promise that we would refer each other. It evolved into this idea of Giver’s Gain, that by giving to other people, by contributing to their success, they’ll contribute to you. This is a great story in Giver’s Gain and if you have a chance and you’re listening to this podcast, pick up the book. Any body who’s gone through MSP Training or the new member orientation training should get a copy of this book. See your director if you don’t not have one and you’ve gone through that training.
There’s a great story in there about a farmer in Nebraska. For those of you outside the United States, Nebraska is the heartland of the United States. There’s a lot of farming in Nebraska. He won the State Fair four times in a row. Priscilla, do you know, what’s Nebraska most well known for growing? Any guesses?
I’m going to say cattle?
No, corn. Nebraska corn. Now, this particular guy won the State Fair in Nebraska four times in a row, which is unheard of. Nobody’s ever done that. The newspaper sent someone out to interview him. The reporter asked, ” What’s your secret, do you have any special corn seed?” The farmer said, “Absolutely, I develop my very own corn seed.” The reporter said ,” OK, so that’s your secret. You developed your own corn seed.” And the farmer said,” No, no not particularly.” The reporter said, “I don’t understand.” The farmer said, “Well, I develop my own seed and then I give it to my neighbors.” The reporter said, “Excuse me. You develop your own seed and you give it to your neighbors? Why would you give it to your neighbors?” The reporter was incredulous. Why in the world would you give your award winning corn seed to your neighbors? The farmer said,” You don’t understand how corn is pollinated. It’s pollinated from neighboring fields. And if you’ve got fields around you that don’t have top quality corn, then your fields not going to grow top quality corn. But if my neighbors field has really strong corn, then I will have awesome corn. That’s how I won the Nebraska State Fair four years in a row. ” I thought that was a powerful story, that by helping people around you do better, you will do better. That is the BNI story. It is a perfect metaphor for how this organization works. It is truly the power of the philosophy of Givers Gain. The building a business to referral networking is truly more about farming than it is hunting. You’ve heard me say that over and over again. But it’s very true and it’s a great story to go with it.
Let me jump into two other things quickly. One of the traditions of our organization is the tradition of training and education. One of the most important BNI traditions is our commitment to training. We spend hundreds of thousands of person hours a year, Priscilla. Literally, hundreds of thousands of person hours a year training leadership teams and directors, BNI staff, membership committee’s, visitor hosts…if you add up all the training we do for all the people in this organization every year, it adds up to hundreds of thousands of person hours. It’s really amazing and it’ one of the reasons why BNI is the worlds leading referral marketing organization. We are that because of the amount of training we do to tell people to learn how to do this, because this isn’t taught in college. Training in education is the key. If you’re in a leadership role in BNI, I know it’s a commitment to go to that training but listen, that’s what sets BNI aside from the other organizations. Participate in as many trainings as possible because it will make your chapter stronger.
I agree. It’s good too. It’s very valuable information.
It really is. Virtually all the trainings we do are free other than the cost of the meeting location. So it’s a great way to learn how to do this better.
I want to give one more before I wrap up, and that’s the tradition of keeping the fun in the fundamentals. You’ve got to keep the fun in the fundamentals if you want to be successful. I’ve been a real believer in system and structure and following the program, but at one point in the process I looked back and I said you know what? I’ve been so focused on the system and structure and everybody following the program that I forgot to talk about having fun. What I’ve learned is, the chapters that learn how to have fun are the stronger chapters. I know I’m in a great group, when they run a BNI meeting, and they run it very well, and I walk out and my cheeks hurt from laughing so much. I know I’ve got a great group then. There a lot of ways you can do that., that you can have fun.
One of the ways I recommend are the meeting stimulants. We have some great meeting stimulants, and I’m not talking about good drugs. I’m talking about exercises that people can do like different ways of doing the sixty second introduction or different exercises before the meeting starts. One of my favorites is the talk show, NET Radio where the president is the DJ and all the members have a sixty second commercial. Not a fifty second commercial, not a minute and ten second commercial, but a sixty second commercial. So if they do thirty seconds, you have thirty seconds of dead air. OK, thirty seconds, now lets just pause. OK that was three seconds…so thirty seconds of dead air. I’ve never seen so many good sixty second commercials in my entire life. People will do the person on the street interview and they’ll interview other members, and they come in with jingles and bumper music. Wow, they have a lot of fun with that.
There’s so many others besides the NET Radio that are really strong. There’s the candy bar exercise where you actually come in with some candy bar and you do a presentation based on the candy bar. There’s the industry trends that’s a very interesting exercise. We have forty or fifty of these. And so if you’ve never heard of what I’m talking about, talk to your chapter leadership team. Talk to your BNI director and get a list of the meeting stimulants. One of the earliest ones, is a card in the basket, where everybody puts a card in. They reach in and pull a card out, and whomever’s card they pull out, they do that persons sixty second presentation. What a blast that is. I could spend an hour just talking about how to keep the fun in the fundamentals, but I don’t have it. Take a look at this chapter and really read this section on keeping the fun in the fundamentals, because the best BNI chapters not only have system and structure, but they’re having a blast.
OK, I’ve run out of time. Next week we’re going to cover Part 2 of chapter 10, Priscilla.
OK, good. I think we have run out of time, otherwise I would tell you what my favorite meeting stimulant is.
Why not throw it in there. What is it, what’s your favorite one?
OK. My favorite one is when you make up a family and each person who goes around the room has to describe their business as to how they can help that particular family. We’ve had so much fun with that.
I think it might be meeting stimulant #1 and it might be meeting stimulant #20. I’m going to tell you a secret here OK? I’ve never told this to, well, I’ve told individuals, but I’ve never publicly told this. It’s the Richard and Lynette story. The first one is they’re about to get married and the second version is they’re married and have three kids. Here’s something, a little point of interest, it’s the middle names of my whole family. Richard is my middle name, Lynette is Elizabeth, my wife’s middle name, who I met in BNI. And all the names of the kids in the stories are my kids middle names. We just threw that in there to have a little bit of fun. A little trivia for your best meeting stimulant. That is a great one by the way.
Yes, it’s a really fun one. OK I think that’s it for this week. Thank you listeners for joining us. I just want to remind you that this podcast has been brought to you by Networkingnow.com which is the leading site on the net for networking downloadables. Thanks for listening. This is Priscilla Rice and we hope you’ll join us next week for another great episode of the Official BNI Podcast.