Jeremy Walsh joins Dr. Misner for the seventh podcast in the “Get Connected–Stay Connected” series. The topic today is how to use BNI Connect to invite visitors to BNI meetings.
To use the visitor invitation tool in BNI Connect, go to Operation | Chapter | Create Email | Send Visitor Invitation and fill out a simple form with the invitee’s contact information. Add your personal message.
BNI Connect inserts the information you’ve provided into an email template and fills in all the pertinent information about your chapter along with a request for an RSVP.
Using BNI Connect to invite visitors to BNI provides a process for invitations and ensures that visitors get all the information they need about the meeting time and location.
But remember, you still need personal contact with prospective visitors. Have a personal conversation before sending the invitation and make a follow-up phone call afterwards.
Listen to other BNI Podcast episodes on the subject of inviting visitors.
Brought to you by Networking Now.
Complete Transcript of BNI Podcast Episode 350 –
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, which is 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 who do you have with you today?
I am doing great. I just think it is funny. You are in Berkeley. I am in Texas. Jeremy, you are in Maryland today?
I am in Maryland.
He is in Maryland. It’s truly all over North America, this call. I have Jeremy Walsh with us, Priscilla, for our 350th podcast. 350. You have been doing this with me for a while now, Priscilla. I appreciate everything you do.
I love it so I am glad I am here.
Jeremy is the Director of Support, Training and Documentation for BNI Connect. Together with the BNI Connect team, they help people get connect worldwide through BNI’s online social media platform, BNI Connect. Jeremy has also been a member of the BNI Wakefield chapter in Rhode Island for more than 10 years and serves as the Director of the region. He is also the owner of Right Click. I love that name, Jeremy. I think I have told you that. A computer support and networking company that drives you kicking and screaming into the 21st century.
Jeremy, it is great to have you on the podcast again.
I am so happy to be here. Thank you, Ivan.
Listen, I know I have said this before. You are the only technology support guy I have ever met that everybody loves. Nobody ever gets mad at you. They get mad at the software but they say, “We love working with Jeremy.”
I have you on today because we are talking about the Get Connected Stay Connected series today. BNI Connect is a game changer for the organization and we are going to talk about parts of it in this series, which is inviting visitors.
Now, we can spend a lot of time talking about how and why to invite visitors, but we have done that in the podcast, so I am not going to do that here. So if that is something you want, if you want to do a search in the search engine for “inviting visitors” then you will find those podcasts. But today, I want to talk about inviting a visitor as it relates to the utilization of BNI Connect.
So, Jeremy, you are the expert on BNI Connect. There is a tool in BNI Connect that will help individual members, those people listening, to invite visitors. Do you want to talk about that a little bit for me?
Absolutely. There is a tool and it is a great little function hidden in BNI Connect. It allows you to supplement or invite a visitor. Usually, we do this after we have already made verbal contact or started the invitation process, but you can use it, really, anytime, anywhere to further that invitation along.
The way it is done is from email template, almost like a magnet. All you need to do is go to Operation>Chapter>Create Email>Visitor Invitation. You fill out a very quick form. You click their title, Mr. or Mrs. Fill our their first name, last name, company name and their email address.
You then have the opportunity to write a personal message to them. You can say something like, Hey, it was great meeting you at the networking event, or chamber of commerce meeting. We are having an open house at our chapter. I would love for you to attend. Or whatever you would like to do to personalize that message.
What it then does is it takes the information you put in and it inserts it into an email template and sends it out to that email address. It will put your personal message as the first paragraph. It then automatically fills in with all the pertinent information about your chapter: the name of your chapter, where your chapter meets, what time you meet, a little bit of information about BNI. It has a great forensic image in there showing what BNI is all about. Then a call to action, saying to please RSVP and let you know they are coming to the meeting.
The great thing about it is you can send out this email invitation anytime. So you send it out, and when they reply to that invitation, it will go directly back to you so you can start the communication with that potential visitor.
You went through the items to click pretty quickly, so for those people who are listening to this, come back to the podcast at BNIpodcast.com and look at the transcript so we don’t have to repeat it. It is all right there. It’s one of the reasons why we do the transcripts, to document this stuff.
So it’s pretty easy to do, Jeremy. I am guessing that you have used it a great deal. Have you had good success with this? Has it been helpful?
We have had great success with this. Again, what I love about this, personally as a member, is that it takes some of the struggles that we have with inviting visitors- a lot of times, we kind of get a little bit over excited when we invite visitors and we don’t know what to say or we end up saying way too much information. This takes some of that out of it.
Also, it helps us- I am sure this has never happened to anybody listening to this podcast, but you go to a network event and say, “It was great meeting you here. Why don’t you come to my BNI meeting on Thursday?” The person may say yes but unless there is that follow up of here is actually where that chapter meets and what time we meet, a lot of times that can fall through. This helps to kind of close that gap a little bit more with getting an official invitation to that potential visitor.
And this system gives a process for people to follow to help in inviting visitors. So if you haven’t seen this, please go check it out. There is, of course, tons of support material. You can go to support.bniconnect.com with no www. Correct, Jeremy?
Correct. It’s support.bniconnect.com, or when you are in BNI Connect, the easier way is just to click that question mark in the upper right hand corner and then it will take you right to their support page.
Great suggestion. Now, one other comment that I have is to the listeners. Remember, this is a great system to invite people, but it doesn’t replace personal contact. So that conversation before you send the email- really valuable. Maybe a follow up call after you send the email- really valuable.
This is not meant to replace human contact. This is meant to supplement it, to support it. Great tool, but make sure to also be a real person and have a conversation with people as well as using BNI Connect.
Now, BNI Connect allows users to preregister for the meeting using the regional website. Do you want to talk a little bit about that, Jeremy?
This is a new feature in BNI Connect. What we discovered is that the invitation is one step of the process for having people at the meeting, but the other step of that process is to actually have the people show up to the meeting.
One of the reasons people may not show up when they have been invited is perhaps they didn’t feel that sense of urgency. Maybe at 6:00 in the morning when the alarm went off, they decided to hit the snooze button instead. Maybe because they didn’t think anybody was expecting them to be there.
This registration process allows you as a member to preregister one of your guests, but it also allows anybody who is on the internet looking at one of our regional websites, looking at one of our chapter websites, or looking at our national website to go in and preregister to visit a meeting.
Now some great things happen when you do this. First of all, the visitor gets a confirmation email that says thank you so much and you are now registered to visit this chapter meeting. They also get a reminder two days before the meeting to say it’s just a reminder that they registered for the meeting, here is the location, here is the address, please show up for the meeting.
The other wonderful thing that happens is that various members of the chapter also get a notification that somebody has registered for that meeting. The leadership team, president, vice president, secretary, treasurer, all of the visitor hosts for that chapter and any of the director consultants for that chapter all get a notification saying, hey, guess what, great news- a visitor has registered to attend the meeting.
To me, that is incredibly powerful. What you were talking about, Ivan, is the fact that nothing replaces that phone call. But if you get one of these notifications that someone registered, wouldn’t it be great to pre-follow up with that visitor and say, “Hey, we just got the notification. We are very excited to have you come and visit our chapter. We look forward to seeing you.”
Between the reminder and these notifications and a pre-follow up, that should increase the number o visitors that show up to the chapter.
Yeah. As long as it is done as hey, we are following up and wanted to touch base and look forward to meeting you. Desperation is not referable, so don’t come across as desperate. Don’t overload them, but nothing beats that personal contact, especially a phone call or face to face conversation.
That said, what we have created here and what Jeremy is talking about is an infrastructure to help you, the members, support the visitor invitation process. I just think this is a great tool for regions. The more you use it, the more successful you are going to be.
I just wanted to say something. We are going to have a visitor day in our chapter and it seems like using BNI Connect to send out an email in addition to doing the personal notes would be a great tool.
Yeah. I agree. This certainly supports regular meetings as well as visitors days and getting people to be able to preregister online is, I think, very helpful for the whole process.
I think it looks really professional.
Yes. It does. And it is a real value add, I think, to the chapters. Jeremy, we are almost out of time. Is there anything else that you want to add to this podcast?
One thing I would say is to find this preregistration, go to your regional website or go to your national website. Here in the United States it is BNIAmerica.com. In other countries, they also have national sites. Go to “Find a Chapter”. Once you click a chapter, you will find the chapter details with all the members listed. You will see a button there that says “Visit This Chapter”. That is how you get your guests to preregister themselves. Or you can preregister the guests through that interface as well.
Again, it is a great tool. Great for visitors days, great for any chapter meeting.
Well, Jeremy, thank you very much. This is all part of the Get Connected Stay Connected Campaign, part of BNI Connect. BNI Connect is a work in progress. We have made incredible strides in the last year or two. There is still a lot of work that needs to be done.
Be patient. We are doing it. We are doing it all in-house, in this organization. We are doing it without vulture capital, or actually venture capital. We are doing this ourselves with, obviously, a lot of outside experts like Jeremy. So be patient, but it is making great strides, but it is definitely something that will help you as a member in your BNI chapter.
Jeremy, thank you very much for your time today. We really appreciate it.
Priscilla, back to you.
Okay. Great. I think that is it for this week, and I just want to thank both Jeremy and Ivan for this great podcast. I would 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