At first encounter, BNI Connect can overwhelm a user to the point of inaction. To make it easier, BNI is rolling out a 12-month program called “Get Connected, Stay Connected” to help members use the system, the better to do business and refer business around the world. Starting October 1st, 2013, there will be a podcast the first week of every month talking about that month’s focus on BNI Connect.
BNI has more than 150,000 members worldwide, and BNI Connect enables them to conduct business globally. This service is only available to BNI members and comes free with your BNI membership.
Even if you only do business locally, people who travel into your area can use BNI Connect to find you and do business with you. You can find stories about how BNI Connect has worked for members on SuccessNet under “I’m Connected.”
It all begins with the completion of your profile.
Post your own experiences with BNI Connect in the comments.
Brought to you by Networking Now.
Complete Transcript of BNI Podcast Episode 324 -
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?
I am doing great, Priscilla. Thank you very much. I have a guest with me today. John has been on the podcast before. I have with me John Meyer. John is the US National Director for BNI. He is also the Executive Director for BNI Ohio and has over 150 chapters in Ohio with more than 3,500 members under his management.
In addition to being the National Director for all of the US in BNI, he is a contributing author to the New York Times bestseller, Masters of Networking. To say that John is an avid golfer is a drastic understatement. He is a very avid golfer, loves to travel and is married to Victoria with three step-kids. I know Victoria well. You married up, John. So did I, by the way.
John is on the Board of Directors for Davis College and he has been an incredible addition to BNI. It is really an honor to have him on the podcast on a topic that is near and dear to me. John, it is “get connected, stay connected”.
Let me just say a couple of things about the topic and then turn it over to you. This is really all about our system, BNI Connect. One of the things that we want to do is build engagement. By the way, if you haven’t been on BNI Connect for a while, come on back. Take a look. A lot has happened in the last year. This is finally the product that I have been wanting to see. BNI Connect is excellent, and it is going to be getting better. But we need to build engagement.
So John, my question to you is why is that so important? What is in it for the member?
Thanks, Ivan. I appreciate the opportunity to be here. And hello again, Priscilla. It is good to talk to you as well. This is something that has been near and dear to my heart as well. This truly puts BNI on the map from a global perspective but it also helps our members develop business, and we truly now can walk the talk of “local business, global network”.
When you first look at BNI Connect, it can get to a point where it would overwhelm somebody to a point of inaction. They don’t know what to do. They don’t know how to do it. They don’t know where to start. So my idea was to roll out a campaign that walks people through how to best utilize what they have paid for for their BNI membership. It’s a year-long campaign. We are excited about rolling it out, and I think we are going to see some phenomenal testimonials from members who have been able to make connections, able to do business, and able to refer business around the world by the time we are done.
You mentioned a 12-month program and we are going to talk more about that. Starting in October, we are going to be doing a podcast the first week of every month, talking about that month’s focus on BNI Connect. That focus is the Get Connected, Stay Connected campaign, which by the way, John put together. This is John’s brainstorm and I absolutely love it and we are rolling it out worldwide.
John is putting the words on paper, but it was a team effort in getting everybody involved with this. So as much as I would like to take credit for it, there were definitely District Directors involved. Jeremy Walsh was involved. There were a lot of people.
Good. Well, a good manager always says that. And with a good manager, it is always true, too. So both of those things are probably accurate.
We now have in the organization well over 150,000 members worldwide. BNI Connect, for the first time in the history of the company, connects people globally. We have always talked about being a global organization, but we never really had that ability until BNI Connect has been rolled out. We have worked out most of the major bugs, and we are constantly adding things to it.
You mentioned what they paid for in membership. This is free. Basic participation is free. There will be a time when we will be adding a premium feature, but everything that we are talking about here is all free to BNI members. And you have to be a BNI member. Nonmembers can’t play. You have to be members.
For the first time, we have put everyone together on the same platform. Talk a little bit about why it is important. What is in it for the members. Can they get referrals?
They absolutely can get referrals. It’s funny that when we initially talked about the concept of local business, global network, I hear members of my own saying, “I don’t do business outside of Ohio.” Or, “I don’t do business outside of Toledo. Why do I even care about that?”
What they don’t know is who comes into the region. We have BNI people coming into the United States from all over the world. The opportunities are there that they do not even know exist. I can tell you from my personal travel. I go into a region. I need a referral. The first place that I am going to look is BNI Connect. If I can’t reach out and find somebody, it becomes very frustrating.
This program was as much personal for me to fight off my frustration when I can’t find a member to give a referral to. That is very frustrating. I have business that I want to give to somebody but I can’t find them. So engaging members in to this process is going to open up doors they may never have thought the possibilities were out there.
We like to hear people’s stories, by the way. If you have a great story of how you got a referral through BNI Connect, put it up here on our podcast. John is aware that we just added to Success Net, at www.bnisuccessnet.com, an “I’m Connected” section. The idea there is all of the success stories. If you click on “I’m Connected” you get all kinds of stories.
Many of them are not doing business internationally. They are people who do business locally who got a referral from a BNI member somewhere in another country or in another area of their country. One of my favorites- and I know, John, you have seen this one- was the BNI member who landed Microsoft as a client from a referral from someone all the way across the country. She was in New York and he was in the state of Washington. She got a referral from someone and landed Microsoft. That is a pretty good client, don’t you think?
I think that is a great client.
And it came from BNI Connect. If you go to “I’m Connected” you will just see one story after another.
John: The other thing that I would like to point is with this, it is not necessarily BNI members giving BNI members referrals or doing business within the BNI world; this opens the door for the world to find our members to do business with them.
Good point, because that point, people can do a search. The search is on the regional website. They don’t go to BNI Connect. Go to BNI’s regional website and search for members. And guess what it is searching- BNI Connect.
So what else? What are some of the other benefits?
It helps build and we will see through the program, but the first month what we talk about is visibility. If you don’t put yourself out in play, you are never going to be successful. Some wise man once told me that the secret to success without a little hard work is still a secret.
I have heard that.
It is going to be worth the member’s while to go through this entire program, build their profile, build their connections, truly engage in networking- that is what this organization is all about. That is what this system allows people to do.
And you are not going to have the visibility if you don’t do your profile. So it all begins, I think, with the completion of the profile, and then there are many, many, many other things it can do. Our plan is over the course of the next year on the first week of every month, either John and I, or I and possibly someone else, will be talking about each one of the steps in the Get Connected, Stay Connected program.
If you are listening to this podcast and you are a BNI Member, you are part of the only organization in the world that has thousands and thousands of groups- over 150,000 members- all connected, meeting every week. We literally have 6,500 meetings every week. All connected through an online system where they can refer each other, support each other.
It’s also a knowledge network where they can share information. There are now over 1,000 groups on many different topics. I invite you, the listener, to join my From the Founder group if you want to hear about what is going on, but there are many other groups. So lots of benefits of participation in BNI Connect.
We are almost out of time, John. Is there anything else that you want to share about the campaign, Get Connected, Stay Connected?
Just one other point. People love to pass referrals as much as they like to receive referrals. I know I do. This allows members to pass their clients, their family, their friends, their relatives connections that they can make around the world. If the member does not travel around the world, maybe they know somebody who does and now they can help them plan, do business, vacation, whatever the case may be. It is just open, endless possibilities.
Yeah. Thank you. You know what? I think BNI Connect is a game changer for the organization. It really puts us ahead of all other networks all around the world because not only the fact that we are organized and meet all over the world, but we have the ability now to communicate with members globally. It is exciting to get emails from people from many, many different countries all around the world and to talk to people.
John, thank you very much for you and your team putting together Get Connected, Stay Connected every month for the next year. Ladies and gentlemen, around the beginning of each month, we are going to talk about that month’s topic. Next month is “Build Your Visibility” and how you can do that through BNI Connect. I will give you a little preview. November will be about networking education.
So those are the next couple of months and if you are an education coordinator, you definitely want to share this with your chapter. If you are a member, please share this with your membership team. This is content that will help you integrate technology into our face-to-face program even more effectively.
John, thank you so much for everything you do. We appreciate it.
Thank you, Ivan. Back to you, Priscilla.
Okay, great. Thank you both. That was really great. 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.