BNI is 31 years old this week! The official kick-off of the first BNI group was January 8th, 1985.
This week’s topic comes from a question posted to Dr. Misner’s Facebook Page. Rick in the UK asks, “How can I connect and make contact with members in other countries? Do I actually need to visit the groups?”
Face-to-face does need to be part of the equation, but it’s probably easiest to start with BNI Connect. Join groups that are relevant to your profession and your interests. Start connecting with members—don’t sell to them.
If you’re planning to travel to another country, make connections with overseas members online and ask to visit their groups when you’re in town. BNI chapters have a history of rolling out the red carpet for visitors from out of the area. Once you’ve visited a chapter, maintain the connections you’ve made with those members.
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Complete Transcription of Episode 438 –
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, California. I am joined on the phone today by the Founder and the Chief Visionary Officer of BNI, Dr. Ivan Misner. Hello, Ivan. How are you doing today?
Hey, I am doing great, Priscilla, and this week, the first week of January is the 31st anniversary of BNI. We are now 31 years old.
That is great. Congratulations.
Thanks. It is exciting. 31 years. That is a long time, but we have come an amazing distance in that time now, in over 65 countries, over 190,000 members worldwide. It has been amazing. The official date, by the way, for anyone that is curious is January 8. January 8, 1985 was the official kickoff. We actually had a core group that met in December of ’84, but the official kickoff of the group was January 8, 1985.
That is so impressive, really. 65 countries.
Yeah, I never would have thought it back then.
So today we have an interesting topic. You know, I have been doing a lot of Ask Ivan lately, and we put it on the podcast a couple times. I have even put it up on my Facebook. Let’s put a link in this podcast to my Facebook page. Facebook.com IvanMisner.BNIFounder. We will put a link in here. Like that page and from time to time you will see us post an opportunity to Ask Ivan.
I believe that is where this one came from. Someone asked a question. Rick asked the question from the United Kingdom. So what I am going to try and do is answer questions from time to time. I am really sorry I can’t answer questions individually. I may not get to every questions, but I am trying to answer as many of the ones- especially the ones that come up a lot. I want to answer as many as possible.
This one comes from Rick in the United Kindgom. He says, “How can I connect and make contact with members in other countries?” You thought that was a good question.
I thought it was a great question.
He said, “Do I actually need to visit the groups?” You need to visit the groups. For Rick and everyone else, that is definitely a piece of what I recommend. You know, face to face needs to be part of the equation. It can be first. It can be later, but it does need to be part of the process. So let me give a few points that I want to mention.
First, BNI members should use BNI Connect to do this. When I end up with this podcast, I am going to give you a few examples of members who used BNI Connect to do this as a way of doing business globally.
Get on to BNI Connect. My advice is participate in BNI Connect groups. If you don’t know where to start, hey, come to visit me on my group. It is called From the Founder. So just look up the group, From the Founder. It is the biggest group on BNI Connect. If you would like to kind of stay connected with me, members, whatever I post, you can connected directly with me. I read virtually all of the comments that are posted in the From the Founder group.
It is a good place to start, but there are other groups. Professional photographers, people who want to do business internationally, attorneys, chiropractors. I mean, every profession you can think of has a group. Go participate in the groups.
Start connecting with members and having conversations. Don’t sell to them. This is not a opportunity for internet cold calling. That is what happens. Don’t do that. You want to build a relationship with them, so make connections with people. Have conversations. Be involved with dialogues in groups. Connect with individuals and if you are looking for someone in your profession or a profession that is of an interest to you, have a conversation with them.
Be candid and say, “I am interested in doing business in your country and I might drop by sometime next year. I am thinking about coming and visiting. If I did, you know, would you meet me? Could I attend your chapter meeting? Would you connect with me?” Find people who want to meet with you. I have at least one great story about that.
So get involved with BNI Connect, make relationships with people. Use the groups. That is a great source. Communicate, communicate, communicate. Make connections on the system. Then when you are ready to visit a different region- it may be a different part of the country that you are in or it might be a different country. Set up a time with the people that you have been connecting with.
Don’t just cold call them and say, “Hey. You don’t know me from Adam, but I am coming to your country.” It doesn’t work that well that way. BNI is all about building relationships with people, so build a relationship with them. And then reach out and say, “Hey. It has been really nice talking to you over the last 6 months to a year. I am going to be coming to visit. I mentioned to you-” Remember I said, Priscilla, to mention to them that you may be coming when you start the conversation. “I mentioned to you six months ago that I might be coming. I am. I would love to visit your chapter. ”
Have you ever had someone from another country or at least another state visit your chapter?[06:52]
We have had from our country various visitors, and I think once we had someone visit from the UK. That was really fun, actually.
You know, I am so impressed with BNI members around the world. They are great at rolling out the red carpet for members from other areas of the same country or other countries. Go do it. I think you will be amazed at how it works out. Where else could you show up in another country and meet with 20, 30,40, 50, 60 people and set up appointments with them throughout the week just by going to one meeting? You just can’t.
You know, I see people on other social media sites like LinkedIn- and by the way I love LinkedIn and Facebook. I am very active. But you can’t just connect with someone say, “Hey I am coming to your country. Would you introduce me to a bunch of your business associates?” It’s just not as easy. We all have a core culture that we all share- this idea of givers gain.
If you develop the relationship properly and you go to visit a country, the chapter will roll out the red carpet. Then, stay connected with those people afterward via Facebook, LinkedIn and of course, BNI Connect. Listen, there is no secret. That is the way to do it. Build a little bit of a relationship. Go and meet them. Or if you happen to be in another country and visit, maintain that relationship with them via BNI Connect or LinkedIn.
Let me tell you a story or two because we are out of time. Natalia from Brazil told a story on SuccessNet, and she said that she was part of a chapter in Brazil and she was planning on travel ing to New York City and to visit one of the chapters. She used BNI Connect to connect with the president of a chapter and just let the president know she was coming to the country. That was exactly what she said- ” A great realization that I came to was that chapters all around the world all share the same givers gain value and all have the same structure. ” That really shows in an international organization.
She is now doing business internationally because she came to visit a chapter in another country. She also says in another country, she always makes sure to visit another BNI chapter.
I think that is brilliant. That is a great example of how you can do business long distance. There is another person, Stephanie, from South Africa, who posted on SuccessNet, our newsletter, saying that she has done business in Dubai from South Africa as a result of making connections via BNI Connect.
So you can be a local business and have a global network with BNI and it works, but I really do recommend that you go to visit the chapter at some point to go and nail down that relationship. That is my advice, Priscilla.
Yeah. I think that is great, Ivan, and I think the more traveling I do the better. BNI is the perfect opportunity for us to make relationships just like you said. It is great.
That’s it for this week.
Okay Ivan. Thanks so much. 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, the leading site on the net for networking downloadables. Thanks for listening. This is Priscilla Rice and we hope you will join us next week for another exciting episode of the Official BNI Podcast.