In this episode, Dr. Misner talks with BNI Director Sam Schwartz following the Annual BNI USA Conference, which had just been completed in Bethesda, Maryland, about:
- The Large Turnout at The Annual BNI USA Conference
- Core Groups and New Chapters
- New BNI Territories vs. Existing Areas
- Explaining The BNI Concept
- Should I Join A New Core Group or An Existing Chapter?
- Where Do I Find New Members?
- How Do I Invite People To Meetings?
Complete Transcription of BNI Podcast Episode 011 –
Hello everybody 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 Frank Felker in Washington DC, joined on the phone today by Founder and Chairman of BNI, Dr. Ivan Misner, and BNI Director, Sam Schwartz, calling in from the BNI USA Conference which has just wrapped up in Bethesda, Maryland. How are you guys doing today?
We?re doing great. Sam, we?ve had a lot of your members come up from Virginia, which is kind of scrabble or close to where the conference was, right?
Yes and they did pass the biggest body of water in the world, which is the Potomac River, to come to the conference.
That seems to be a common issue here and around the world. Whenever there is some kind of geography in the way, it?s separates the region a great deal. You had a good turnout. I appreciate it.
It was a great conference and I think we also broke a record as far as the directors ?
Yes. There were quite a few directors at the conference, but we continue to grow and things are going well within the organization- which is kind of something you wanted to talk about today in this podcast. You wanted to talk with me about core groups and new chapters kicking off. I?ll let you lead the direction here on the topics ? I think this is material that is really valuable for any chapter or core group that is thinking about starting a BNI chapter in their city.
Thank you. Often I get the question of, especially when we open in virgin territories in new countries, what are the benefits of starting a new BNI chapter? That is the first one.
But also, in an existing area where we already have the BNI chapter, a question of a member might come as why should I joined this pre core group when down the road there is another chapter that I can join that doesn?t have my category? So what is the benefit of joining starting a new BNI group?
Let?s start with the question of opening up in a new area. Now we have many, many chapters throughout the U.S. There aren?t too many areas where nobody has ever heard of BNI. But I certainly learned in the earlier days in opening up BNI, that there was a lack of concept recognition.
People didn’?t understand what it was. I remember them asking is this a rotary? Is this like the chamber? Is this a multilevel marketing program? People just didn?’t understand what it was.
I find that as we opened new chapters in new countries, we go back to that kind of experience that we had in the United States when people just didn?t understand the concept. It is a matter of really trying to describe the concept of people so that they understand what it is.
We?ve had the most success in opening of chapters with people who have either been a member in another country or have at least visited, so that they can explain to somebody what the process is. The real key is getting them to the first few meetings and getting the core group going with somebody who is experienced. Would you add anything to that?
Yes. I think that also now with new technology and new media, the video presentations ?it?s not so much being there physically but seeing what?s happening. I think there are a few videos that are a great help for people who have never been in the BNI meeting.
You bring up a great point and for the listeners of the podcast who are in a chapter already and a core group isn?t necessarily of interest to them, what you just brought up is of value to them because we do things like the podcast. But I do web cams in regions all around the world and not just kickoffs, although I have done a couple of web cam kickoffs.
Those have been interesting. I do it can sometimes. If the chapter is going to put on a big visitors day with a lot of people, if I?m available, I will do a short presentation live via web cam for a big visitor?s day and certainly for a big regional event. You?re right ? technology has really enabled us to do some things today that we couldn?t do years ago.
And if you remember, you actually helped us kick of the Romanian chapter. You did a video camera to the pre-core just before the launch. I know that because of your presentation by the web cam, at least a couple of guests signed up after they heard you talk. You answered some of their questions. You sponsored these two members in Romania.
Hey. It is good to know that I can still sponsor a member every now and then. The second part about joining ? what was the second question?
The second question was why should I joined a pre-core versus an existing chapter down the road that is more established and has a larger number than the new one?
That is a good question and I think it is a personal choice. But there are at least one or two really good reasons why you want to join the pre-core group or core group. One is that it gives you the opportunity to surround yourself with your power team and with people within your contact sphere ? people whom you have a relationship with and want to improve the referral relationship even more.
So you join a core group or a pre-core so that you can bring in a handful of people that you are doing some business with and want to expand on that. You don?t have to step in and reestablish some relationships. I particularly see this happen in the financial services and real estate industry, where they have some relationships in place but they don?t want to have to refer to someone else so they start of pre- core group or a core group so that they can maintain those relationships and build a network like that.
That?s great. Question answered. I also answer that sometimes BNI chapters are like ice cream. They?re all good, but they come in different flavors. You need to find the flavor that fits your personality.
Certainly, every chapter has its own personality. There is no doubt about that. When you have a group of people getting together in an environment like this, you have different personalities and they interact differently.
You have to find a chapter that resonates with you ? a chapter that has people in it that you feel comfortable with. There is nothing wrong with going to a group that already exists. Or, if you want to help establish a group that has the ice cream flavor that you are looking for, then starting a core group certainly enables you to guide that process along.
Anything else in the core group process?
Also there?s always the question of where do we find these new members?
You know, that is a really good question, and I don?t think I have talked about it in any of the podcasts. I remember the first two or three chapters of the BNI groups that I had setup. I was lamenting to some member that I had running out of contacts. I had opened two or three groups and I was working on the fourth one. I was out of contacts. Clearly, the members were bringing in people themselves, but I also wanted to help the chapters refer a couple of people.
She said to the, ?Oh, come on. You haven’?t used all of your contacts.?
I said, ?I don’?t have any contacts left.?
She said, ?Think about it. You have some contacts. You don’?t have any??
?No, no. I don?t have any.? This was in 1985, a long time ago.
She said, ?Okay, go to your Rolodex.? Do you remember those Sam?
I still have one.
Well I don?t. She said, ?Go to your Rolodex. Go through your Rolodex card by card and look to see if you have invited that person.?
I said, ?I know who is in my Rolodex.?
She said, ?Well, yes, but have you gone through it? Have you gone through your address book person by person??
I said that no that I hadn’?t done that. And here’?s one that I have used for years now:
She said, ?Go to your checkbook. Who are you writing checks to? Follow your money. Who are you giving money to? Those are people that you should be inviting in.?
I thought that those were fair comments. I went back and I was shocked at how many people I hadn?t thought of that were in my Rolodex, my address book and my checkbook who I had done business within the past and had just forgotten about them. All of a sudden, I had a whole lot of other people.
Whether you are in a core group or not, if you are listening to this podcast and have been a member for a while, try those techniques out. They?re really, really powerful. You?ll find people ? maybe you don?t have a Rolodex, but if you open Outlook, ACT or whatever you have- if you?re like Sam, you still have a Rolodex.
I keep it for prosperity. I remember you said that those were very close to you typically don?t refer to you because they see you in different ways but those are definitely people that we can go and ask them can you recommend a good (fill in the blank) of what you are looking for. I thought that was a great comment that you said in the training.
Yeah those close to you? Do you mean like family members?
Yeah. Family members or your buddy from high school who remembers you as a drinking party buddy, not as a business person.
Oftentimes, we know them in a different context so we don?t communicate with them as business contacts. I think that is a mistake. You know, you may not be able to flip that relationship on its head overnight, but if you have a good relationship where there?s already some trust and credibility established, over time, you can usually reestablish it by letting them know what you are looking for.
You will find people who are friends and family members, at least those ones that you actually like ? that you have this good relationship with ?make a good source. Don?t forget those. They make great contacts.
Great- so now that I have a name, what do I tell them?
I?’ll tell you, the way that I invite people to BNI is quite different than what I think a lot of people do. They say, ?I?m in this great organization; you have to come. I’?m going to start this chapter that?s called BNI and you get a lot of business.?
They almost come on too strong. I think that is a mistake. The way I like to invite people into meetings is I say, ?I?m in a new working group we have 20 or 30 people [however many there are a group]. We are interviewing,? that is the phrase, ?bankers. I think you would make a good candidate. We would like to talk to you and see if there?s a good fit. We need a banker that we can give all of our referrals to.?
One of the things I use ? and you know that I started out as a member ? I would say, “I would like you to meet my inner circle of business people.”
Yes. That is a great phrase. There are a lot of ways to do it. I have a guy in Canada who has tons of members. He brought in more members than any other members of his chapter. The way he did it was really unique. He told his secretary that every call that she got, she should put through to him.
She put them through and he would take it and say, ?I would be glad to meet with you. Tuesday morning at 7:00 a.m. at Coco’?s restaurant at such and such location. I have a networking meeting that starts at 7:00. Come to the networking meeting. Then afterwards, if you’?d like to talk, I will talk to you.?
It was great. He got more people who called in from cold calls to come to the meeting. I started thinking I need this- this is great. He had more people join than any other member of the chapter. There are a lot of creative ways to either help build a core group or an existing chapter.
We?re out of time for this week?s podcast, gentlemen. Thank you very much. For Dr. Ivan Misner and BNI Director, Sam Schwartz, I am Frank Felker saying we will see you next week on the official BNI podcast.