The question of whether good attendance or giving referrals is more important to being a quality BNI member is what’s known as a false dilemma. Dr. Misner and his wife wrote an article about this on Success Net called “Addition by Subtraction.”
If you want a chapter to be strong, you have to cut back the members who aren’t committed to attending. When you reduce absenteeism, you increase the number of referrals, as the numbers in the Success Net article show. Your BNI chapter won’t be successful if people don’t show up.
If your chapter hasn’t been enforcing its attendance requirement—start. You’ll be amazed at the results.
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Complete Transcript of BNI Podcast Episode 218 –
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. I have an interesting topic today. It’s based on a question that was asked by a member. Let me read the question and then we will talk about my response. The question was:
In your view, Ivan, what is the more important quality of a member, being on time and having good attendance at meetings or referring a healthy amount of revenue? I love this question. It is actually a logical fallacy. It’s called a false dilemma, where there are two points put up and a connection made between the two as though it were either this or that. I don’t believe it is either A or B. I believe you can have quality members and have good attendance. As a matter of fact, I think good attendance is really important to the quality of the member. But it’s not that it is only about A or B. I think it is about the two of them combined.
I want to refer people to an article that I wrote some time ago with my wife, Elizabeth. It’s at SuccessNet online at bnisuccessnet.com. Take a look at an article I wrote called, “Addition by Subtraction”. It’s a great piece and the end of it is actually a rewrite of material that I wrote in 1995 in the original printed versions of successnet. What we talk about in there is the best way to build a chapter is sometimes to cut a chapter back . If you actually reduce the size of the chapter in terms of certain nonperforming individuals, the chapter will grow.
The article is done with my wife and I and she is talking about it from a gardening perspective. I am talking about it from BNI’s perspective. She is talking about how in order for roses to grow, you have to cut the rosebush back. If you cut it back, you can reshape it and get many more roses out of it. But the only way for that to happen is to actually cut it back. I believe that is applicable with chapters as well. Sometimes if you want a chapter to be strong, you might have to cut it back as to people who are not attending.
There is a direct correlation between absences and the amount of referrals. I think one of the challenges that I have talked about in this podcast before is one of the strengths of a group like BNI is that most of the members are friends. But one of the weaknesses of a group like BNI is most of the members are friends.
Friends don’t like to hold friends accountable. When they are not showing up or doing things, it is hard to hold them accountable, especially if they have been bringing referrals. It’s hard to hold them accountable. The problem is that spreads and you end up getting a lot of people who aren’t then performing. Go to that article that I mentioned, Addition by Subtraction, and take a look at two studies that we did back in the 90’s. I originally wrote about his in 1994 and then again in 1995, where I put these two graphs in there. We worked with some chapters in reducing absenteeism.
I just want to give you some numbers here. We had one group that started off with 2.1 absences per member per quarter. Every single member on average missed twice during a 3 month period. There were only 14 members in the group and they passed 188 referrals. We really took a look at absenteeism and the chapter really focused on improving absenteeism. In the next three months, they dropped their absenteeism down from 2.1 to 1.0, a 52% drop in absenteeism. The number of members went up almost 30 % to 18. The number of referrals went up 43% to 269 referrals. They tracked an additional quarter and their absenteeism dropped to .6 absences per quarter. That ‘s a 71% drop in absenteeism. They increased their members to 21, a 50% growth and they increased their referrals 62% to 305. 71% drop in absenteeism and 62% increase in referrals.
I would argue that quality of members has a lot to do with attendance and both are key. It’s a logical fallacy to say it’s one or the other. Both in fact are important in order to have a successful chapter. Quality of members is actually showing up. Have you ever attended, Priscilla, over the phone? It’s one of those things that you have to be at the meetings for. That is what networking is like.
Go to that article and look at it. What is really cool is I had a chapter President come to me and say , “ I don’t believe this data” when I published it originally in 1994. I said, “ If you don’t believe this data, call up the chapter President and ask about it. He kept track of it.”
They said, “He is in your pocket. He’ll say whatever you want him to.” You don’t know Presidents very well then. He said, “We want to replicate it. We want to do an additional quarter. I believe it will be different if you go longer.” So I said that was fine. Do it.
I published the results. He was right. It was different. In the first group they had a 71% decrease in absenteeism and a 62% increase in referrals. It almost identical at the the third quarter for the second group. They had a 58% decrease in absenteeism and a 71% increase in referrals. Very close. But in that additional quarter, Priscilla, that one more quarter saw a 164% increase in referrals. They went from 122 referrals a quarter to 322 referrals a quarter. They went from 11 members to 21 members. Today, 11 members wouldn’t even be a chapter but back then, we didn’t know any better. A 90% increase in membership and 164% in referrals.
Quality of members is about attendance. Being there is key and if you doubt that, go look at the data. It is really clear. A lot of time people say there is an exception. They have this one person who is the exception. The problem with that is if you start making exceptions, everybody wants to be the exception. I remember the first time that I saw this one. I was running the very first chapter and I let somebody go because the attendance issue. They did bring good referrals but they just weren’t there enough. I was no more out the door with BNI. I had to step down from the chapter. As soon as I left, they brought her back in. I got a call about a year later from the group saying that person that you cut loose, we brought her back in. I asked how she was doing, and they had just kicked her out. I asked why. She didn’t change her pattern at all. She ended up actually creating problems with her absenteeism because other people started missing because she was missing.
It just brought down the whole group. Tell people if you have someone who is not there, it is just not a good fit. God bless them. We love them. They are wonderful people. It is just not a good fit. Quality is all about, in part, attendance as well as referrals. That’s my story and I’m sticking to it.
I think that if people are not at the meeting, they’re really not that committed. They are just not that into it. You know that book, “ He’s Just Not That Into You.” I think they are just not that into the concept of BNI.
Eventually, it catches up. If you have somebody who is bringing in referrals at the time, eventually it catches up. You want people- why accept mediocity when excellence is an option. You can get people to show up and bring referrals. That’s the thing. That’s all I’ve got for today, Priscilla. I would love to hear your comments. I know sometimes members go, “Oh my goodness! That’s so brutal! It’s all about generating business for you. The truth is if people don’t show up, you are not going to get business for yourself. Go to that article that I spoke about on bnisuccessnet.com and under the search function, just type in Addition by Subtraction. You’ll see the article that my wife and I wrote and the data. Explain to everybody it’s in the charts right there with all the information.
Well, that’s it for this week. 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.