Dr. Misner’s favorite technique for inviting visitors to BNI is what he calls “We’re Interviewing.”
Suppose your chapter needs a printer. When you meet a printer, explain that you’re in a referral group and say “We’re interviewing printers now to find the best printer in the area to give all of our business to. I think you might make a good candidate.” Replace “printers” with members of any profession your chapter needs.
This shows people the value of BNI membership and helps the chapter to be selective about new members.
Of course, this means you have to interview the visitor after the chapter meeting. Only submit an application if you think the person is a good fit.
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Complete Transcript of BNI Podcast Episode 278 -
Hello everyone and welcome back to The Official BNI Podcast brought to you by NetworkingNow.com, which is the leading site on the net for networking downloadables. I am Priscilla Rice, and I am coming to you from Live Oak Recording Studio in Berkeley, CA. I am joined on the phone today by the Founder and Chairman of BNI, Dr. Ivan Misner. Hello Ivan. How are you today?
I am doing great, Priscilla, and today I have a topic that somebody asked me about. It’s inviting visitors, a technique that I call the “we’re interviewing” technique. They said have you talked about this on a podcast and I said, yeah, I thought so. I did a search and I saw a mention of it in one of my podcasts, but I never really went into any detail. It’s such an important topic that I can’t believe that I haven’t talked about this thoroughly on one of the podcasts in the past.
People ask me how do you invite people? What is the best technique? What I think the best technique is, the one I really like, is “we are interviewing.” So take a profession, whatever it is- a printer. Let’s say your chapter decides they need a printer. What you want to do is, when you meet a printer, to say to them, “We’re interviewing printers right now.” Start it with, “I am in a referral group. We get together on a regular basis. We are all about passing referrals to each other. We are interviewing printers right now to find the best printer in the community that we can give all of our referrals to. I think you might make a great candidate.”
So let’s review this again. I want people to use this. You can use the transcript. I want you to use the transcript.
“I’m in a referral group.” You don’t have to go into much detail. “I am in a referral group. I have been a member for [however long]. We get together on a regular basis and we’re all about passing business to each other. We’re interviewing [fill in the blank for whatever profession]. We’re interviewing printers right now to find the best printer in the area to give all of our business to. I think you might make a good candidate.”
That’s a really powerful way to invite people. One of the reasons is whenever- sometimes when people invite others- one of the great things about BNI is people love BNI. They love BNI, and so they maybe come on just a little bit too strong,. “Oh, you have got to join this organization. It’s the best organization around. They get a lot of business.” People who don’t know you are like, “Who are you? And why are you trying to sell me on this? Read the palm.” Right? They get put off.
One of the things that I found is that if you can, in an appropriate way, be more exclusive about who you bring in, you are actually going to get more interest from people. It’s a little bit counter intuitive but it’s absolutely accurate. When people realize- you understand, Priscilla, entrepreneurs hate not being picked. Okay?
What is the implied statement here? We are interviewing and you might make a good candidate. The implied statement is we might not pick you. Entrepreneurs hate not being picked. They want to be picked. So, you know, if you make it sound like we’ll take anybody with a check- I know I have mentioned this on the podcast before. Sometimes chapters, the only test they give somebody is what I call the mirror test. They put a mirror under their nose and if it fogs up, you’re in, We’ll take you.
You know what, we need to be very selective about who we bring in. We did a podcast called, “Who’s in Your Room?” a while back. We want to be selective about who we bring in our room. We want good, qualified business professionals. We want to pick and choose.
Pick and choose for the right reason. Not based on race, religion, color, sex- but based on a quality business professional. We want to be picky about bringing in the best people and that interview concept is so important.
Then you have to interview them. Don’t just say you are going to interview them. Interview them. Sit down with them afterward and ask them questions:” Tell me a little bit about what you do. What is your target market? How do you view us being able to help you? How do you think you can help us as a group? Tell me some of your background.” Use the application as a way of asking questions. Get them to open up and talk about the various topics. Interview them, and when you think there’s a good fit, submit their application.
It’s a very powerful technique that I think is probably one of the best ways to invite people into BNI.
This is very timely for me because last week our chapter got together. Instead of a meeting, we got our computers out and started trying to invite potential new members, doing research together as a team. The whole group. I came up with a social networking adviser on Craigslist and I sent an email to them. They sent an email to me, very interested. Now what I hadn’t told them- I invited them to our breakfast meeting and told them that we had a group, that we met on a regular basis, and he or she could be my guest.
However, I didn’t mention that it was membership only or anything about that. I was starting to- I haven’t returned the email. Today, I have to go back and say something. I was thinking how do I approach that subject, the fact that it’s not completely open. You have to be a member in order to receive some of the benefits of being in the group.
There is nothing wrong with that. They’ll find out when they come. As a matter of fact, I have found out that the less you say the better in some cases. Here’s why. So keep an open mind if you just heard what I said. Here’s why. It’s all about the visitor’s experience. It’s not about coming to a meeting. It’s about the experience that people have. So they are not going to get that experience until they come to the meeting.
You can talk until you are blue in the face about what BNI is and nobody is really going to understand it until they show up. Once they show up, you tell them what it’s all about and how it works. Mind you, don’t dodge any question, okay? Don’t be one of those people who says we can’t tell you what it is. Answer any question that anybody has- always. Be honest and candid and direct.
But there is no reason to offer up details that- they are just going to start saying, “I don’t understand. Tell me more.” For example, if you lead with “We meet every week at 7 am,” provided your chapter meets at 7 am, people are going to go, “Eh, I’m out. Not interested.” Without even seeing it or experiencing it.
I would give them whatever information they want. The bottom line is we’re interviewing. You’re a candidate. I think you might make a good candidate. We would like to consider you. It’s sufficient enough for them to come in and have the experience of a good meeting. Then do the actual interview.
Not only do I not think you should tell them everything, I think it is a bad idea to do a mind dump on a prospective visitor of everything there is about BNI. They need to experience the meeting. Then go into detail.
Okay. Do you think I should say it’s a membership group? Or do I leave that out?
I think it’s irrelevant. How many networks are not a membership group? To me, it’s virtually a given. You are not deceiving and certainly if he asks, you tell. But I think there is some information that is not particularly important. Most networks are membership groups. A chamber of commerce is a membership group. I wouldn’t worry about that.
Okay. I’ll try your method.
Give it a try and listen, do it a few times. If you are listening to this podcast and do it once, that is not enough. You have to feel comfortable with it. It’s that old adage of if you think you can or you think you can’t, you’re right. So if it feels awkward and you don’t think you can do it, you’ll be right. It won’t work. Try it a few times. Work it out.
I find it’s absolutely the best technique because you are not trying to talk anybody into anything other than to experience a networking meeting and to be considered- we’ll consider giving you all of our business. I’m telling you that’s motivational to most business people.
Will everyone come? Absolutely not. Not everyone will come based on an interview. Here is my philosophy on that: Some will. Some won’t. So what? BNI is not for everybody. You are hearing the Founder of the organization say this is not for everybody. I used to be good at talking people into joining BNI. I don’t even try anymore. I just want them to come and experience a meeting. A good meeting.
After they have experienced the meeting, they need to commit themselves. They need to be motivated to join. I don’t try to talk people into joining anymore. I just want them to come and see a good meeting. When they come and see, they will either get it or they won’t. If they don’t, talking them into it is a bad idea because then they won’t do the things necessary to be successful.
You want somebody who is motivated to do it. Get them there. Do an interview. Make sure it’s a good fit. Then you have somebody who is likely to be a much better member. Make sense?
That makes total sense.
So there is it, ladies and gentlemen. That is a great technique. Go back to your chapter. Teach your chapter and use it, use it, use it. If you are listening to this podcast and you have done this technique, please speak up. Post a comment and let us know what it has been like and how it has worked for you so that those people who have never tried it can say, “You know what> Maybe Ivan is right. Let’s try it.”
Okay. Sounds good. I’m going to try it.
Alright. I think that’s it for this week. I want to thank you, Dr. Misner, for great information. I would just like to remind the listeners that this podcast has been brought to you by networkingnow.com, which is the leading site on the net for networking downloadables. Thank you for listening. This is Priscilla Rice, and we hope you will join us next week for another exciting episode of The Official BNI Podcast.