The one secret to success in BNI is that there is no one secret. There are at least three–plus one.
The three are
- Embrace quality
- Grow your team
- Seek engagement
The illustrations below show the advantage to growing your team. (Click for larger image.)
And the one is sharing stories. Sharing stories is the way that you embrace quality, grow your team, and get people engaged. A story is a fact wrapped in an emotion that compels people to take action that transforms them in some way. If you don’t have any stories of your own yet, go to BNISuccessNet.
Share your own stories here in the comments.
Brought to you by Networking Now.
Complete Transcript of BNI Podcast Episode 308 –
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, which is 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 doing?
I am doing great, Priscilla. Today, I am going to talk about what I believe is the formula for transforming chapters into really great groups. As I travel around the world, BNI members will oftentimes ask me what is the one secret to success in BNI? So would you like to hear the one secret?
I know the one secret.
You probably heard me or a good friend of yours say it because I know Mike who we both know says this as well. The one secret to success in BNI is that there is no one secret. In order for members to be successful in BNI, there are a number of things that members have to do in order for a chapter to really do well. I believe there are at least three plus one, and I will explain why the list I have plus one. Three plus one. That is where the title comes from. 3+1=member success.
The three are embrace quality, grow your team and seek engagement. Those are three. Then there is plus one.
First is embrace quality. Quality is first on the list for a reason. The process begins by being very selective about who you bring into your chapter. You want quality business professionals with positive, supportive attitudes. You also want people who are good at what they do. Networking is dependent on the quality of the relationships that you actually develop as a group. If your network is a mile wide and an inch deep, you won’t be getting the referrals that you expect. Therefore, it is important to build deep relationships with your referral partners if you want to generate more referrals.
In order to ensure quality participation, there has to be accountability in the group. You have to have accountability. I talked about this in last week’s podcast. Without accountability and some structure, you can have a coffee clatch and that is not why people generally join the organization.
If you expect the best from your members, you are going to get it. If you expect less than the best from your fellow members, you are going to get it. So why accept mediocrity when excellence is an option? Accountability in a group helps you achieve excellence, and you want quality people who are willing to commit. That is one.
Two, grow your team. Years ago, I learned that there is a dramatic correlation between the size of a group and the number of referrals that are generated by that group. Groups that are under 20 tend not to generate nearly as many referrals proportionately as groups that are over 20. The math actually proves it. I just figured this out recently. We have been doing this over 30 years and just figured this out recently.
In this podcast, there will be a couple of graphs for you to take a look at and you can see visually what it is that I am talking about there. In the first graph, it is 16 people, and you see 16 people have 256 connections. In the second graph, there are 32 people. So if you double the size from 16 to 32, you quadruple the number of connections. 16 people had 256 connections. 32 people had 1024 connections.
Can I ask you something right there? I did see the graph. How does that work? Are you talking about connecting from person to person, or are you talking about the number of connections that each person brings to the group?
It doesn’t even count that. That can be huge. This is just the number of connections because, you know, if you have 32 people, person one is connected to person two. Person one is connected to person two. Person one is connected to person three. Person one is connected to person four. If you do that, then it becomes a huge number. The more people that you have, the more connections.
What you are talking about is what is called Dunbar’s number. I should do a podcast on that. That is the average number of people that someone generally knows. The Dunbar average is about 150.
Oh really? That is good because that sounds more realistic. I have heard bigger numbers but that- you know.
Yeah. It’s about 150. So if you take a Dunbar number, you are talking about 32 times 150. Those are the total number of people that somebody might be connected with, with 32. However, with 32 people, just sitting in the room, you have 1024 connections.
I call it the squared connection effect. The squared connection effect because it is basically 16×16 and 32×32. When you see the graphs, it will make more sense. Just listening to the podcast doesn’t show it like the visual does. Now, the reason that I started thinking of all this, is that I noticed that chapters that were twice the size were passing more than twice the referrals. It was substantially more, like three times the referrals. I could never figure out why that worked until a mathematician showed this to me. He said this is why it works. There are just a whole lot more connects. There are four times the number of connections.
So the third piece of the formula is to seek engagement. Engagement involves a promise of an action. So in order to achieve success in a group, the members have to promise to support one another and take the actions necessary to fulfill that promise. There are many ways that members can be engaged in a group, and they all begin with something that I talked about in a previous podcast, the culture of learning.
It all begins with that. You have to have a chapter that is really engaged in the process of learning. Have all of your members gone to the Member Success Program training? Have all the members taken it a second time, a refresher course? Do most of the members listen to the BNI podcast? Do most of your members subscribe to and regularly read SuccessNet? Are chapters participating in the BNI Fast track program, Del Fuego?
The higher number of people engaged in those activities, the more likely the entire group will be generating more referrals. The reason for that is that shared vision of success and the shared implementation of it.
Another way to be actively engaged in a group is to do regular and consistent one-to-ones. Meet with members outside the regular BNI member. Over and over again, I see that members who do more one-to-ones give and get more referrals.
Lastly, are your members in the group really doing a good introduction? That is part of the engagement. They have to really sharp shoot their talks, not shotgun their talks.
According to Psychology Today research, they found that people who were actively engaged in a business environment, actively engaged in the process, are 43% more productive than those who are not? I have certainly seen that in the context of BNI.
Those are the three and then there is one more. So the three steps are to embrace quality, grow your team and seek engagement. The plus one is all about sharing stories. The idea is that you do those three things by sharing stories. You increase quality by talking to each other about the importance of quality, by telling visitors who come that quality is really important, by living that and giving examples of that.
You grow your team by telling stories. You seek engagement by telling stories. The more you can get people engaged by telling great stories, the more successful you are going to be. Now, you, Priscilla, have probably heard me speak before at events. I am all about, in particularly when I have a little more time than just a few minutes, telling stories as a way of getting people engaged.
So what makes a good story? There are four things that make a good story. A story is a fact wrapped in an emotion that compels people to take action, that transforms them in some way. A fact wrapped in an emotion that compels people to take action, that transforms them in some way.
The key here is that a good story compels people to take action and this action relates to those thing that you are talking about- getting them to take action on embracing quality, growing your team or seeking engagement. By understanding those stories and using them effectively, you are able to make the chapter much stronger.
If you don’t have any stories or you are new to BNI, go to SuccessNet. They have tons of great stories from BNI members around the world who have had success. Check the “My BNI Story”. There is a ton of stuff there.
If you, as members, understand this formula, you can changed your group in amazing, amazing ways. I would love to have you share your story here on BNIpodcast.com about any elements of the three plus one that you have experienced in BNI and how it has helped you. That is all I have for today, unless you have any questions.
I just want to say that you are an exceptionally good story teller, and I have heard you at various events. It’s very engaging, very entertaining, lots of fun. It’s very, very rewarding to hear your stories.
Thanks. You know, it’s really the story that helps sell any concept or idea, more so than the facts in many cases. You need the facts to back you up, but it’s the story, the personal experience, that tends to really persuade people. One thing I learned about BNI is it is all about the experience. The facts are important, but the experience is paramount.
The other thing I have to say is that you managed to tell a story as if it’s the first time you told it, but you have told the story many times and you always tell it in such a fresh way.
Yeah, here is a concept for people. I appreciate you saying that, thank you. I tell people don’t retell a story, relive a story. That is what I try to do in my speeches. I try to relive it. I imagine I am there in the situation again for the very first time. I am there. So when I tell stories, I tend to try to relive it as much as possible as opposed to retelling it.
Yeah, it really shows. That is great.
Well, thank you very much.
You’re welcome. Okay. That is it for this week. I just want 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 so much for listening. This is Priscilla Rice, and we hope you will join us next week for another exciting episode of The Official BNI Podcast.