This is part two of “How Big Is Too Big?”
The essence of a successful chapter is creating more referrals and passing more business for members. The more members you have in your group, the more referrals you can pass, the more one-to-ones you can have, and the more energy there is in the group.
Larger chapters still have growth goals. Keep inviting visitors. You have to consider attrition. And if a prospective member applies for a position that’s not available, you can forward the application to the region and make sure the person is placed. (Listen to Episode 308: 3 + 1 = Member Success and read Dr. Misner’s SuccessNet article on this subject.) Visitors bring in money.
Remind concerned members why they should welcome growth and make the larger chapter a success. A shorter commercial can get you more business if more people hear it–as long as you create a good one.
As long s you maintain an abundance mentality and welcome visitors even if they are members of your profession, your referrals will grow exponentially.
Brought to you by Networking Now.
Complete Transcript of BNI Podcast Episode 334 –
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 and where are you today?
I am doing great, Priscilla. I know this is a topic that is really of interest to you, so if you have a question as we go along, feel free to chime in. Our three guests from last week’s podcast, Regina Russo who is a Director Consultant for BNI, and Lisa Frederick who is President of Unity Printing and President of BNI Inner Circle chapter and Phillip Pasek, who is with Fast Breaks Entertainment and also President of the BNI Referral Net chapter in Florida.
Last week, we talked with Lisa and Regina a great deal about chapters getting large and how do you handle the long term members and how do you handle the categories so there is not too much overlap and what some of the goals are for a 55 member chapter. We had discussions with Phil in addressing those concerns.
Just to sort of recap, the have Lisa whose chapter went from the high 20’s to, I believe, the high 40’s. Where are you at now, Lisa?
We are at 53 now.
53 members. 53 members rocks. Congratulations to your group. That is really exciting. So you are over 50 members. You had these concerns and you reached out to Phil down in Tom Fleming’s region in Tampa and asked some questions. Phil responded.
So Phil, I have some questions for you, and then I would like to have an open dialogue for the next 10 minutes. The first one is Deanna Tucci Schmidt from Pennsylvania, the Executive Director, was really impressed with your ability to bring most of the answers that you had about growth back to the essence of more referrals and more business from members. Do you want to talk about and how a large group impacts the number of referrals?
Sure. Growth is in members, so obviously the more members you have, the more closed business you are going to pass. In addition, you are going to gain more referrals because you’re having good one to ones and there is just more energy in the room for those meetings. So those people are wanting to help you more.
The more people you have, the more money it is always going to make the group. So 55 members, that’s common in our area, so that is what we are used to.
You mentioned in the previous episode that that’s what you are used to. It is a little bit of a paradigm shift. It’s interesting that what we are used to can hold us back in some ways. I will give you an example. When I started BNI, the average sized membership was just under 20. I remember the first chapter I kicked off with 30 members. I remember vividly thinking, wow, I wonder if I will ever do that again. I wonder if we will ever have a chapter with 30 members again. And now Phil, you are in a region where the average size is over 40 members. And your group is over 55. Is it not?
Yes. Most of our chapters are right around mid-40s, some as high as 68.
That is just incredible. My next question for you is large chapters still have growth goals. Can you talk about why? Why would they have growth goals and why is it important.
Two reasons. You always want to invite others because of attrition. You always have to think of that. The other reason is even if that person is coming to the chapter to fill out an application and hopefully get a seat, if that seat is already taken by a professional, we can take their info, that application and forward it to our region and they are very good about placing that person in a chapter that is in our area.
So not only are you helping your chapter by bringing in a guest to experience BNI and hopefully make some money for your chapter, you are placing them in the region in another chapter that is open. So we are constantly inviting because it is always great to have new faces in the meeting. Sometimes in our meetings, we have 60-70 people in the room, and we are a 55 member chapter. The more guests, the better.
A lot of groups think at the micro level- what causes are going to benefit my chapter. But really great groups think at the macro level. If they can’t join here, what other group can we put them in to let those other groups grow? The value to that is other groups are doing the same for your group. If there is a spot open in your group, we had somebody at our chapter that may be able to join yours. We have that what goes around comes around mentality.
It is. Everybody wants that coveted life badge.
Yes. The gold member badge for bringing in six or more people. By the way, there is an article on growth and the importance of certain number of people in your network that you may be interested in if you are listening to this podcast. It is in my April 2013 issue of SuccessNet. It is called 3+1= Member Success. Go down to item number two, Grow Your Team. It talks about the squared connection effect and how a higher number of people in your network substantially increase the amount of business that you generate. So there is some hard data to go with what I gave you verbally. The last question I have for you and then I am going to let the ladies chime in is you believe that we should always be inviting. Always inviting people. Do you want to talk about that? Even though you have so many members, over 50 members, why are you always inviting people?
We are not scared. The more people you have coming through our chapters, the more people hearing our 30 second intros. That’s crucial for us. As you know, visitors bring in a ton of money to our chapter. The more people who get to experience our 30-second intros, even more for an eight minute presentation. Those two people who present weekly, we try to invite to who they want to pitch to. That is constantly how we are selling out chapters, inviting. Even if the seat is taken, we will get them placed somewhere else.
That is rare because some chapters have a scarcity mentality. They are like, “Whoa, Phil. He represents my profession. I am already in the group. Why would you invite somebody who competes with me? That scarcity mentality- if you have somebody in the chapter, that doesn’t help the group at all. Do you want to talk about that a little bit?
Sure. Just for instance, we have a massage therapist in our group that may specialize in the area of massage therapy. Someone came in couple weeks ago in our chapter and they specialize in something else. They are now partnered up and they refer each other back and forth- and they are in different chapters passing business between chapters.
I want to hear more about this. I would love the ladies’ opinions on the abundance mentality as well. Before we jump in, Lisa and Regina, you really led a lot of the last podcast. Do you want to add to what Phil had to say? Regina, you are the Director Consultant up there. What are your thoughts?
Well, I actually have an additional question, if you don’t mind going back to the question of the paradigm shift and members because the existing members were at 34 and have been in the chapter for years. The 16 members that took them over 50 have a different view. When they came to the branded Visitors Day, there were over 90 people in that room. So their only experience of a BNI meeting is large. So coming back the following week, with 16 new members and 50 in the room is their frame of reference. Then you have the 34 core members who are still kind of in shock.
Their goal was to get to 40 but we superseded that and went to 50. I would be curious, Dr. Misner or Phil, if you have any thoughts on how to bridge that gap. How to make that transition for existing members to embrace the growth.
I have a thought, and then, Phil, I would love for you to jump in. My perspective is people don’t care about the how until they understand the why. They don’t really care about how to make something work until they understand why you want to do something. The why to me is all about referrals first and foremost. As you increase the number of referrals in a group, you dramatically increase the value of the referrals and the amount of referrals.
We have hard data over many years that shows clearly that that continues right up until the 50 mark where it will continue to increase dramatically, but it increases exponentially from 30-50 and continues to increase arithmetically over 50. To me, that is the why. Then you talk about how, which we have been talking about- how to build it a little bit. But the why is so important. Phil, what do you have to add to that?
Echoing exactly what you said, it is just those members who use the term “older” in their experience, this is all they know. So when they come into this different atmosphere, they are like, oh my goodness, this is completely different. How do we work through this? We are going from 45 seconds down to 30 seconds.
Well, they have to know that the more people in the room, that is their sales force. That is their sales team. For 30 seconds or 45 seconds, if you have a really quality 30 second message. Sometimes 45 seconds, you don’t even need that time.
Yeah. Don’t you find that when people really hone their message and make it tight, they can be even more successful? Before we went on air with the podcast, I told you a quick story about a movie situation that I had read about and ended up talking to one of the producers about it. The writer for Toostie pitched the movie, Tootsie, with, really, one line. They ended up making a multi-million dollar deal with one line. Forget about 30 seconds. It was about five seconds. The one line was, “This movie is about a man who dresses like a woman and becomes a better man for it.” That said it all. That was the movie.
It was tight, concise and motivational. If members can make their presentation tight and concise, it will motivate people to refer them. Did that answer your question?
Yes, it did. Thank you.
Lisa, anything you want to add before we talk briefly, because we are almost out of time, about an abundance mentality?
No, at this point, it is great- all the feedback. I appreciate it.
Let’s talk for just a second. We have one minute left. Let’s talk about abundance versus scarcity. Phil, do you want to talk about that?
More is better, right?
It is. More is better but quality more. So one of the things that I say in the article that I recommended is that you have to have good quality people. So one of the things that I said is you want quality people. With that caveat, I couldn’t agree more. More is better. An abundance mentality, even if they look at first glance that they might compete with you, finding ways to refer each other.
We did a podcast where we talked about seven attorneys in one chapter and those seven attorneys referred more business to each other than any single other individual in the chapter. That is a chapter with an abundance mentality.
Well, we are out of time. Any of the three of you, do you have any last comments to make before we wrap up? Phil, Regina, Lisa? Are we good?
We are good. Thank you.
Listen, I want to thank all three of you. We have done two podcasts now with four of us on the phone plus Priscilla. It went really smoothly. I hope you, the listener, through the podcast got some great ideas. You are talking to people who are making this work. These are BNI members and Director Consultants who have taken this concept and made it work out on the field. I want to thank the three of you for what you are doing. You are absolutely changing the way the world does business, and I appreciate you for it. Back to you, Priscilla.
Okay, that’s great. Thank you to all of you. 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. 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.