Episode 318: 50-70 Members at a BNI Meeting (Classic Podcast)

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This is a rebroadcast of Episode 186.

Synopsis

Welcome back to Tom Fleming, who joins Dr. Misner to tell us how you can run a BNI meeting with up to 70 members.

Open Networking usually takes place 20-30 minutes before the meeting.

Chapter Educational Moment is limited to 3 minutes.

60-Second Introduction becomes a 30-second introduction.

Referrals Members are encouraged only to state the number of referrals, thank-yous, and dance-cards. We might not ask all the visitors what they liked most about the meeting. Members go first, visitors afterwards.

Announcements are pre-screened by leadership team members for length and appropriateness.

It’s important to include every part of the BNI meeting agenda.

Brought to you by Networking Now.

Complete Transcription of BNI Podcast Episode 186 -

Priscilla:
Hello everyone. Happy New Year and welcome back to The Official BNI Podcast brought to you by NetworkingNow.com, 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 Berkley, CA. I am joined today by the Founder and Chairman of BNI, Dr. Ivan Misner. Hello Ivan. How are you?

Ivan:
I am doing great, Priscilla and I want to wish everybody a new year, at least a new calendar year. There are different new years. We have to remember that we are global, and so it’s a different new year for different people around the globe. It’s a different calendar year for most of BNI.

I am in Palm Springs at our Executive Management Team for our organization. We get all of our top managers together aruound the world and we meet. Today we are going to have a really special podcast with, I think, the only person- Priscilla correct me if I am wrong. I think Tom Flemming is the only person that we have had on three times. Is that right?

Priscilla:
Absolutely.

Ivan:
Tom, this is your third visit, right?

Tom:
And it’s great to be here yet again.

Ivan:
Yes. Thank you. You are our first person on three times. We have a great topic to start the new year. 50, no 60, no 70 members at a BNI meeting. Tom, how can that be done? That is the question that so many people have asked in your previous podcasts. How in the world do you do a meeting with up to 70 members? You are going to tell us all how you do that.

Tom:
I think everybody has pieces of the pie, pieces of the puzzle out there. But I think the beauty of this podcast is it answers the question in one fell swoop- how to run the full BNI meeting agenda with 40-70 members in the room plus guests. I know it is a weekly challenge for many chapters.

Ivan:
It really is. Especially for those groups that have been very successful, getting over on time is very, very difficult. Let’s get to some key points on the meeting. What about open networking. What do you do with open networking?

Tom:
Well, open networking- most members of a large chapter tend to enthusiastically arrive at the meeting 20 -30 minutes early anyways before the start of the meeting. So open networking for the larger chapters actually transpires prior to the formal part of the meeting. Members at large actually take their seats right at the start of the meeting with the president opening up the meeting, whether that is at 7:00, 7:30 or 11:30, whenever the meeting starts.

Ivan:
Chapter educational moment. That is another important part of the meeting. What do you do with that?

Tom:
Sure. The BNI agenda calls for a three to five minute spot. In a large chapter, definitely keep that to three minutes.

Ivan:
What about the 30-Second Introduction? What you are doing in the group as a 30-Second Introduction is commonly known as a 60-Second Introduction. How do you handle that one?

Tom:
This is obviously where we save a whole lot of time. I mean, 60 members doing a 60-Second Introduction, that’s 60 minutes. There are companies that can pay millions of dollars to get their message across in 30 seconds for a Super Bowl commercial. So why can’t we? Setting the introductions at 30 seconds puts us in the position of planning and preparing our introductions in pursuit of keeping them crisp and to the point. 30-Second Introductions also allow the members the opportunity to execute the meeting in terms of, or in pursuit of doubling the size of the chapter to triple the referrals. In fact, even chapters with 25-30 members do 30-Second Introductions because they know that in order to be a big chapter, they have to act like a big chapter.

Ivan:
Let me stop you there for just a second. I have found so many groups, when they are small, 20 members or so, because they have the time, they just kind of meander through the meeting and take up the full amount of time. So they really struggle when they get to 30, 40, 50 members because they meandered early on, and it’s hard to make the change down the road.

Tom:
I think it’s all about creating a solid culture right up front.

Ivan:
Yeah. Great. So anything else on the 60-Second or 30-Second Introductions?

Tom:
No. I think 30 second introductions is more than enough time for members to get their points across.

Ivan:
And you have guests doing 30 seconds as well. Is that right?

Tom:
Absolutely. They are afforded that time.

Ivan:
What do you do with the 10-Minute Presentation?

Tom:
Actually, two members are afforded a 10-Minute Presentation per week. Some of the really large chapters with 60 or 70 members do 8-Minute Presentations. The members love that because they get twice as many 10-Minutes Presentations through the year.

Ivan:
Now for one of the most important parts of the meeting, the referral portion. What do you do with that one?

Tom:
Well, this has been a big problem for chapters in the past, where they get themselves way off track because it’s kind of the culture of the organization that this isn’t a timed portion of the meeting per se. In pursuit of executing the most important part of the meeting, leadership teams have been doing a great job of coaching their members to stay during the referral portion of the meeting. The number of referrals they have, the dance cards, or thank you for closed business items. And then take their seat. Unless, of course, someone has a wonderful story about how they generated a referral for someone or a powerful testimonial.

The point is keep that referral portion of the meeting focused on the reporting of referrals, dance cards, and the reporting of closed business. It keeps the referral portion of the meeting tight yet powerful. Also, with respect to the referral portion of the meeting, we always ask the guests what they liked best about the meeting, correct?

Ivan:
Yes.

Tom:
Well, if there is 8, 10 or 15 guests, instead of asking all of them what they liked best about the meeting, we might ask three to five.

Ivan:
Interesting. When you do that, do you have everybody go around? Do you stop at the visitors’ end? Do you just have members go and then ask can you have two or three visitors share what they liked best about the meeting? Do you separate it out , or do you have them even as you go?

Tom:
Have to separate it out because when you are asking the guest what they liked best about the meeting, you want them to see the entire referral portion of the meeting first so that they can comment on, “Oh my gosh. I can’t believe how many referrals were passed.”

Ivan:
It’s a little bit different than most meetings. You are passing the visitor, rather than asking what they liked. Then you are coming back to them at the end and you’re asking for a handful to comment on what they liked. Correct?

Tom:
It is correct, but it is no different than how we do the Intromercials. We have the members deliver their Intromercials first and the guests go next. So we have already established that culture or protocol with the third or second introduction.

Ivan:
I am totally good with that. I love it. It’s a great way to do this for big chapters. You have a big chapter. It’s an outstanding suggestion. The whole idea of- with a lot of groups, I see them say the referral part of the meeting should be 30 seconds or less. Oftentimes, I see them do this section first where they cut back. Here, you are saying don’t even give it a limit. Say it in a sentence or two, except when you have a story. When you have a great story, keep it under a minute. Did I summarize it reasonably well?

Tom:
I think that is a great way to say it. Our intention is to keep it crisp.

Ivan:
Keep it crisp. Not to necessarily time it. Boom, boom, boom, boom, boom. They are standing up and doing it very quickly unless one person has such a story and they go into detail. I think that is a great approach. I like it. What are your last thoughts in terms of wrapping up for the announcements and whatever else is at the end of the meeting.

Tom:
Sure. The announcement portion can be a big area where chapters get off track as well. What a lot of chapters are doing is they are having announcements pre-screened, if you will, by the leadership team to make sure that the announcements are appropriate, that they are maybe not ling winded. It also gives the leadership team to say, “Okay, we are going to have two or three announcements versus 15 or 10 announcements. So we can control the announcement portion of the meeting so it is one to three minutes rather than five to ten. Really, from there, bing, bang , boom. We are out the door at 8:30, 9:00 or 1:00, whenever a group’s meeting is supposed to be over.

The most important part of all of this is hitting every aspect of the BNI meeting agenda. It is a recipe. Nothing is skipped. Everything is included. We are just focused on having a great productive meeting. Most of the guests respond with, “I can’t believe the structure that is associated with this thing, and I cannot believe the productivity and the level of activity that you guys produce within an hour and a half meeting. I’m just amazed.”

Ivan:
I want to emphasize that you mentioned that you cover the agenda and all of the crucial pieces of the meeting. And you have chapters- your average membership is close to 40 members per chapter. Is that correct?

Tom:
Yes, yes.

Ivan:
You are close to 40 members per chapter. You have about 40 chapters. Is that right?

Tom:
Yes. We have about- we are going for 40 chapters with 40 members. Maybe we will be at 50 someday. Who knows?

Ivan:
I just have to say that is, to me, amazing. I know in our previous podcast. I said I remember the first time we had a chapter with more than 30 members. We kicked it off and had 30 members, and I wondered if that could ever happen again. And here we have a region in Florida that has 40 chapters with an average of 40 members, and that just blows me away. You have one chapter, the Profitmakers, that has over 70 members. Does it not?

Tom:
Yes. It is currently around 70. Their meetings are tight. They do have a tough time running through the full agenda in 90 minutes, but they do it. They do a wonderful job.

Ivan:
I have been to meetings with groups of 60 or 70- my biggest was 80 members- and it is hard to get it over on time. Do you ever add time? Do any of your chapters maybe start a little earlier?

Tom:
We have never tried that. Again, the open networking happens before 7:00 a.m. and we start promptly at 7:00 and out the door by 8:30. Some of our meetings start at 7:30 and run till 9:00.

Ivan:
So in a way, you are starting a little earlier. You do your open networking before 7:00 a.m. and you start the meetings at 7:00 or whatever time it starts. But you’re kind of doing open networking about 15 minutes earlier. Is that right?

Tom:
Correct, but attendance is still taken at the 7:00, 7:30 or 11:30 time.

Ivan:
Well, these are great suggestions. If you are a BNI member and you are in a chapter of- actually, this is great for even smaller chapters, 20 -25 members, to start thinking big. These are the kinds of things that you are going to want to do. If you are in a group of 30, 40, 50, 60 members, then these are the things that you have to do.
I think, Tom, you have given some outstanding suggestions.

Start the meeting 15 minutes early. Have the open networking- and by the way, the group that I went to that had 80 members in Canada did open networking before 7:00. They started just as you are describing here. Run a little tighter education moment. Do 30-Second Introductions instead of the 60. Cut your speakers down to eight minutes when necessary. Otherwise they get two speakers at 10. Keep the referral part of the meeting short and sweet. Boom, boom, boom. If you have a story, allow a little more time and then keep the announcements portion on track. Is that a good summary of what you do with big groups to get a meeting over on time?

Tom:
Perfect summary. Great. Thank you.

Ivan:
Tom, you are an outstanding Executive Director. I wish I had about 200 more just like you. You do a wonderful job of running a great region. I am so proud of the Tampa region and what you have done there. You have some incredible chapters and incredible members. I want to thank you for being a guest on my podcast, and I’m telling you this podcast is going to have legs. This is a podcast that is going to last in the organization for many years for chapters to hear the secrets to running a big group and running it in the BNI system. I want to thank you for being my guest. Anything that you want to add before I close up?

Tom:
Just thank you for your leadership and Happy New Year, everybody.

Ivan:
Thanks Tom. We really appreciate your advice. For members who are listening to this, save this one, share this one with your BNI members. It’s great advice on how to run a meeting. By the way, we did this because of your last podcast. We got so much feedback from them on yeah, great, you built it to 40, 50 or 60, but how do you run it? We had so many people ask about that, and that’s why we’re doing this podcast today. So thanks a lot, Tom. Priscilla, back to you.

Priscilla:
Okay great. Thank you, Tom and thank you, Dr. Misner. 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 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.

Comments

  1. says

    We have 58 members. While we do all that is talked about in this podcast, we want our Energizers to crisp during referral slips. So I designed a format in which each member msut fillup the data and read it out without loss of time. Especially when members have, several 1-2-1 slips, 5 or more referrals, several TYFCB slips and several visitors to thank, this formated report is extremely help full. Once read out the slips are just handed out to the team moving arround the room.
    In case if u wish to see the format please write me an email and i will share it with you all.

  2. N. E. Tucker says

    Great podcast for start-up groups, and for incoming Leadership Teams. The title might make some think not appropriate to our chapter yet; wait until we get larger. Not the case. Helpful info, and ideas to grow into. Thanks Tom and Ivan!

Solutions-focused comments are welcome