Every year BNI picks a theme to help all members focus on. (The theme for 2008 was “Changing the Way the World Does Business.”) Themes are chosen from submissions from BNI members and directors.
BNI’s theme for 2009 is “Raising the Bar.” While many people are retrenching right now, BNI aims to raise the bar—economy or no economy.
We have an opportunity to focus on what we do best.
For BNI as an organization, Raising the Bar means more growth. It means focusing on the fundamentals and what we do best.
What does Raising the Bar mean for BNI members and chapters? You’re the best person to answer that, but here are a few suggestions from Dr. Misner:
- Raising your game
- Remaining action-oriented
- Using the energy of the BNI group to exceed your own standards
- Inspiring your prospects and customers through your example.
In 2009, BNI is investing the most capital ever in a single project: BNI Connect, a comprehensive online social network for BNI members. This service will connect all our chapters and make BNI truly a global network of local businesses.
Brought to you by Networking Now.
Complete Transcription of BNI Podcast Episode 086 –
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’m Priscilla Rice, and I’m coming to you from Live Oak Recording Studio in Berkeley, California , and I am joined on the phone today by the founder and the chairman of BNI, Dr. Ivan Misner.
Hello, Ivan. How are you?
I’m doing great, Priscilla. Welcome to the New Year, 2009.
Thank you. Welcome back to you.
You know, the theme for BNI is the topic of today’s podcast, Raising the Bar. And so I thought what I’d like to do with this podcast is to talk about this theme for ’09.
Every year BNI picks a theme that helps to sort of bring everyone together on one area or focus on one thing. Last year was a theme that we’ve actually gotten a trademark on and will be using for many years to come; that is, Changing the Way the World Does Business. And I think BNI definitely does that.
This year we picked an interesting theme, and the themes, by the way, are selected by member contributions and director contributions who recommend different topics. And then, our national directors worldwide, the 40-some directors that we have worldwide, will pick the theme based on recommendations. And ours this year is kind of counter-intuitive. It’s Raising the Bar. And I say it’s counter-intuitive because most people are retrenching, talking about the economy, talking about how you just have to hang on. And I think that this is an opportunity to, in fact, Raise the Bar. That’s what I want to talk about in this podcast.
For the members, I’d ask: What does Raising the Bar mean for BNI? What does it mean for you, as a BNI member? What does it mean for your prospects and your customers? I think that while most of the world is shouting about the sky falling and the difficult times that we’re experiencing, I believe that right now we have an opportunity. And that opportunity is to focus on the fundamentals of what we do best, both you, as a business professional, as well as BNI, as a referral marketing network, can Raise the Bar for ourselves in 2009.
Now, for BNI, it means more growth, although the company will continue to grow as entrepreneurs and professionals around the globe continue to embrace networking and word-of-mouth marketing in order to thrive, especially in the midst of international economic challenges. As stakeholders in this company, we have to thrive to reach out to people around us and share the BNI story with them in compelling new ways that excite them about the possibilities of business growth through word-of-mouth marketing. We have to both be concrete in our examples of how BNI can help them as well as skillful listeners in hearing their concerns, their questions, and their dreams.
Raising the Bar for BNI means celebrating the successes and contributions of every member and every chapter, even as we lay the ground work for successes in brand new regions of the organization. More simply, it means working to our future with a clear vision, clear minds, and clear dedication to BNI’s methods and principles. I going to talk about the future a little bit at the end of this podcast.
First, I want to talk about you, the BNI members, the listeners. What does Raising the Bar mean in your life, in your business, in your BNI chapter? While only you can answer that question, I see you as business leaders, as BNI members who believe in the power of raising your game while others retrench, I see BNI members as action oriented movers and shakers who expect more from themselves than those around you. I see BNI members as being the kind of people who understand how success focused energy available through the BNI chapters boosts their ability to exceed, even in their own high standards of achievement.
That reality, I think in turn, has a huge impact on your prospects and customers, BNI members. How? Some people want to know, how does that affect them. Well, look at yourself through their eyes. You influence your prospects and customers more than you think in the way you conduct business, in the way you attend to their needs, in the way you help them pursue success. By Raising the Bar for yourself, you help them by your example to also Raise the Bar in their lives.
Raising the Bar is a commitment that BNI makes to you, the BNI members, to people listening to this podcast. When you do it for yourself, it’s the gift that you give others in your life and in your work, and it’s what we must all do for the health of the worldwide economy in the coming new year.
The economy, I think, Priscilla, is serving us lemons. The economy is serving us lemons. We choose to make lemonade. My marching orders to directors around the globe for this year is to focus on the fundamentals, to get back to basics, to do what BNI does well, and do it better than we have done ever before. We are committed to making BNI an even better organization in 2009.
Because of that, we are moving forward with the most comprehensive project in the history of the organization. In 2009, we’re investing the most capital we have ever invested in a single project, and we’re doing it now in the middle of a recession.
What is it?
Well, I’m going to tell you about that. But first, let me tell you that I think it’s an opportunity for BNI and for the members of BNI to take advantage of this time to excel while others are stagnant. By the end of 2009, we will introduce a comprehensive online social network to support BNI members throughout the world. The project is called BNI Connect, and for some basic information about the project, feel free to go to www.BNIConnect.com, no hyphen, no space, BNIConnect.com, and take a look at our vision for the program. You’ll get some basic information there. You can find out what’s going on. There’s a section there that I outline in detail the program.
Basically, it’s an online social network, social business network that allows BNI members to connect and communicate worldwide. It will be what’s called a “walled garden community,” so only BNI members will be able to participate. If you’re not a BNI member, you can’t play in the garden. If you are a BNI member, you automatically are in the program and there’s no additional cost for the services. You will be able to network with members all around the world through the new BNI Connect, which we hope to have operational by the end of this year.
BNI truly is Raising the Bar for the organization. We are moving forward with a plan that will reinforce BNI’s position as the world’s largest networking organization and will help members around the world to make effective use of our global network. What I’m asking members to do is help us Raise the Bar this year in your chapter, in the individual chapters. Focus on the fundamentals, get back to basics, and immerse in a culture of learning within your group. Through BNI, I think members around the world can have their best year ever, and we’re here helping to do that in ’09 by Raising the Bar for ourselves in doing one of the most comprehensive projects we have ever done.
Wow, that just sounds great, really wonderful.
So if you have a chance, the listeners and Priscilla, take a few minutes, go to BNIConnect.com. That site right now is really just providing basic information on what we’re up to, what we’re doing. You will, throughout the course of the year, learn a little bit more about the program and more, and we’ll be sharing more on the Web site, but it’s a good start. This is my introduction to the concept to members. Directors already know about it. And stay tuned, go back to the Web site periodically throughout the year and see what our progress is, and you can take a look at some of the very specifics of what I have in mind there now. I think that BNI is in a position that where we’re talking about local businesses, but we want to create a global network. We have a global network, but we’ve not linked these people together, and that’s what BNI Connect will do.
I think that sounds great. I can only imagine what that will lead to.
Well, I think it’s going to be awesome. We will provide a link, of course, in this podcast so people can go there, and I would ask BNI members, join me in Raising the Bar in 2009. While everybody else is talking about retrenchment and the sky is falling, this is an opportunity for us to take advantage of the networks that we have built and to actually not only do okay, but to do great. I have met BNI members last year who have said to me they have had their best year ever, and one of the reasons for that was how powerful the network that they built through BNI and their other networking opportunities. So I know there are opportunities out there, and it’s important for us to take those lemons and turn them into lemonade.
Thank you, Dr. Misner. It all sounds great, and I just want to say, as a member of BNI, thanks for everything that you do, and I hope this leads to a fantastic new year.
Why, thank you. I think that in a few years from now when this is in place, we’re going to look back and say “This ain’t your daddy’s network.” It’s going to be a completely different, powerful tool to help BNI members in their regular meetings.
I’d just like to let the members know that this podcast has been brought to you by NetworkingNow.com, which is the leading site on the Net for networking downloadables. Thanks 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.