- Prepare (or at least pretend like you did). If you’re not able to prepare as well as you’d like, don’t apologize or express disappointment. The visitors won’t know what you meant to do and didn’t.
- Everybody has to do a little heavy lifting. The most successful Visitors Days are the ones where everyone in the chapter contributes. TEAM = Together Everyone Achieves More.
- Arrive early and stay late. The times before and after the meeting are great opportunities to make connections with the visitors. Stick around and answer questions.
- Make 3-5 connections. It’s okay if you don’t meet every visitor, as long as you make good connections with a few. Dig deep and develop the relationship. Visitors can bring you business even when they don’t join your chapter.
- Have fun. BNI members are good at having fun at their regular meetings. Make sure that you also have fun on Visitors Days. It helps to show them what BNI is really like.
Brought to you by the Networking for Success Channel on YouTube.
Complete Transcript of Episode 505 –
Hello everybody and welcome back to the Official BNI Podcast, brought to you by the Networking for Success Channel on YouTube, featuring Dr. Ivan Miser and many other networking experts. 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?
I am doing fantastic, Priscilla. I am actually in Austin. I am at him this week. I do have a guest. My guest is Nate Dominguez. Nate is in Phoenix, Arizona. Nate has been an Executive Director for a pretty long time now and has been involved in BNI since, well, since he was very, very young. He is the son of Norm Dominguez who was the first Executive Director in Phoenix, Arizona and the first CEO after me for BNI.
Nate has been, what Nate? 10, 15 years in BNI?
Next month marks 13.
13. See, I was pretty close. I danced around it. 13 as a Director.
As an Executive Director.
As an Executive Director. And how long were you involved in BNI prior to that?
I first became an Area Director back when that was a popular position back in 1998 at the ripe old age of 18, but truth be told, I only lasted a year before going away to college.
Okay. You got your degree. Where did you go?
I went to Northern Arizona University in Flagstaff, Arizona. The pine trees we do have here in Arizona just a few hours north of Phoenix. I got my degree in Business Marekting. I would have chosen Business Networking had they had such a thing. I thought Business Marketing was close enough and a minor in Communication.
That’s awesome. And as I recall, you never thought that you would go into the family business, per se, but we are really glad you did, Nate. Nate runs a fantastic region of BNI and we are going to be talking about Visitor’s Day today. I think it is a really important topic and Nate has done a lot of Visitors Days and has a very successful region.
There are five really important things that we are going to be talking about today, so if you are listening to this podcast, pull out a pen, pull out a piece of paper and write these things down, or print out the transcript from this and highlight this and talk to your chapter about it because if you are doing a Visitors Day, you want to know these five things.
One, is preparation. Nate, talk to us a little bit about what you mean by preparation- and the parenthetical comment to this, I love: (or pretend that you are prepared). How does that work?
Well, first, thank you for the kind words, Ivan. It has been an outstanding opportunity to be involved in BNI not only as a career but more or less for my entire life. Something that I am really excited about in our organization and how it bounces around from culture and culture and can happen in big cities, small cities, new chapters and long tenured chapters is the power of Visitors Day. So I love this topic.
We have all heard the old adage that for anything we plan or do that has to do with preparation. I like to not just settle there but instead take it a step further. I think this is a tip that can be valuable both for a chapter as a whole, but also each individual member. And I do put in parenthesis “prepare or at least pretend like you prepared.”
What I mean by that, another way of putting it is don’t drive the bus over yourself. Unfortunately. I had to learn this one based on personal experience and I have seen great leaders make this mistake when, ideally, we prepare. We put in the time and energy. You do the homework and you knock the ball out of that park. But we have all had times, and chapters have times and businesses have time, where you get tied up and one thing leads to another and you just aren’t able to do the preparation that you planned on.
Yet, that does not mean you need to go and throw yourself under the bus. I have done it and have seen others do it. It’s the old adage of “I was driving to the meeting today, trying to decide what to talk about.” Unfortunately, I have seen Presidents do that on Visitors Days. I have seen members do that when representing their own businesses in front of not only their peers and fellow members but visitors as well.
My personal theory is none of them know any different. So as long as you presented like you prepared, it is very easy oftentimes to knock the ball out of the park because they didn’t know any different. I can think of an example where a chapter has the goal to have 50 visitors at their Visitors Day. I think it was a chapter of about 28 or so. They didn’t. They wound up with 25 or so visitors at the meeting.
Instead of looking at that as a success, right off the bat, the President said something, and I don’t remember what that was, to express his disappointment not only to his fellow members but to the visitors who were right there in the room who would have never known otherwise.
This is really important. You say prepare or pretend like you are prepared. It is important to understand that you are not saying, “Look, don’t worry about it if you don’t. You don’t have to do the work necessary to have a great Visitors Day.”
You still have to do the work, but don’t act like you didn’t hit your numbers or your goal that day. Is that more what you mean by this?
Precisely. Or don’t act like, as a member, you are standing up and promoting your business for the very first time. Whether you are or not, the visitors don’t know any different and it is all part of the experience which will tie in with tip number five.
Okay, so we hit number one and we have four to go in just a few minutes. Everybody has to do a little heavy lifting versus a few people doing a ton of heavy lifting. That us number two. Everybody has to do a little heavy lifting. Talk about that.
I have been to dozens, if not hundreds, of Visitors Day and regardless of the size of the chapter or any other logistics, the most successful ones are where everyone is doing their part- doing a little bit of heavy lifting as opposed to the old 80-20 rule that 20% of the members or leadership really rowing hard.
So set aside the time, prepare accordingly, and if everybody does a little heavy lifting, everybody wins. It’s the old acronym, “T.E.A.M.” that we have all heard a million times. Truly, everyone really does enjoy more. And that ties in with Visitor’s Days.
Yeah. Everybody has to make these work. Networking is definitely a team effort, so I agree with that one wholeheartedly. Number three: arrive early and stay late. Talk about that.
Again, everyone has heard the early bird gets the worm. I personally really enjoy being one of the first people to show up at any of the events that I go to, whether it is networking-related, business-related, community-related. Oftentimes, that is when you really get a chance to connect with people, but very few people tag on to say around for a little while. Don’t race out the door.
Again, I have seen this happen where just a few members will be the ones to stick around out of a large chapter after a very successful Visitors Day,and it is typically those who are able to interact more with the visitors, help out the Leadership Team with wrapping up the meeting- and who oftentimes end up getting the maximum benefit.
So it is not just being the early bird that gets the worm. It’s also lingering for a little bit afterward to help out, to meet new people, to gather your thoughts and really capitalize on your experience.
That is a good one. I think all too often, people are busy being busy instead of busy being effective. This is an opportunity to stick around and be effective. Networking is about that face to face contact, conversation and communication- connecting with people.
So what happens is people have this meeting and they go it and go, “Okay. All done.” Although people are still meeting and talking afterwards, some members go, “Well, I did my thing. I am leaving now,” when in fact, that is your great opportunity to make a really solid connection with people who are there. So arrive early and stay late. Good advice.
Make three to five connections. Talk about that.
Real quick, before I move on I’ll say with regards to staying late a little bit, the ability to follow up, just stick around with the visitors and just answer their questions- naturally, I would recommend that at every single meeting, but it really, really applies with Visitors Days. There will be some visitors who might not come back but can still be great connections.
Which ties into the making three to five connections. I know you have done some great podcasts on this as it applies to visiting Chamber functions or when you are out and about and you attend those meetings with 500 people.
You know, make sure you make a three to five person connection. I have done it plenty of times. At the Chambers, it always pays off. But it also applies to successful Visitors Days. I say it both for the member and the visitor or guest.
What I have experienced is when a member is able to really make three to five strong connections, or enrich three to five connections with visitors that you have I tied yourself. That is where the power is. That is where the magic is. The goal is they are all going to come back, apply for the chapter, become members and develop life-long relationships.
All so often, there is a chance to really dig deep with a visitor or a guest, develop that relationship- yet, I get guilty of it and I am sure you have done it as well. We are talkers and like to really get ourselves out there, and I have been to Visitors Days when I feel so tempted to bounce around and meet everybody that oftentimes I will leave those events and feel like I really met nobody versus making-
We are almost out of time, and I know you have a really good story. Do you want to tell it real quick?
Yeah, so years ago on Visitors Day – we got an audio visual member in the chapter. His name was Chris. This guy does high end commercial buildings, puts in hundreds of TVs in restaurants and sports bars and builds studios or movie theaters in people’s homes. We had a visitor attend this particular day. Chris has been a member for a few years. She was a Mary Kay gal.
It was a 7:00 am chapter, Tuesday morning, in Scottsdale. I remember like it was yesterday. Chris was a very great member, but not anything above and beyond everybody else. Just did a great presentation, got there early, stayed late, was well-prepared – everything we talked about.
The visitor, during the “I have” portion of the meeting stand up and was very complimentary. Complemented the chapter and the leadership but she said, “I am not a morning person. I appreciate the invite but I will look into other chapters. I don’t know that I will come back.”
Truth be told, I come to find out a few months later she didn’t. She hadn’t been back a single time. Just a few short months later, Chris, the audio visual guy, gets a call from her. She was a Mary Kay representative. It turns out she was married to a home builder building a multi-million dollar home and they needed a bid on a $300,000 in-home movie theater. Chris’ company not only got the opportunity to do the bid, got the job- and it was all thanks to one visitor who another member had invited to a Visitors Day where Chris had been well-prepared, showed up early, stayed late. He had some fun and as a result, scored a pretty big referral from someone who didn’t end up becoming a member. But everybody still won.
So visitors really – we invite them as potential members, but we sometimes forget that there are other opportunities for business from the visitors. So, great suggestion.
Last one. We are just about out of time. The last one is have fun. Now, you never expect to see that in a list of five points about a great Visitors Day, but I love it. Talk about that for a minute.
You just have to have fun. I know that we are the best at this, arguably, on the planet. I feel we are really good at overlapping business and having fun, developing relationships and becoming friends, when I know you have talked about on many of these.
But all too often, I have seen a chapter really stiffen up at their Visitor’s Day. After weeks of preparation and all the heavy lifting leading up to it, having some real energetic high powerful meetings leading up to it, and then all of a sudden we get there and everybody stiffens up. I feel that has a negative impact on the visitors, the preparation, everything else that we’ve talked about today.
By no means do I recommend having a party with streamers or that any of that is necessary. But just have some fun with it. I hope that members are able to do that and enjoy attending BNI meetings, being members and entertaining visitors as much as I do.
I just want to remind everybody to do the same thing when you a re at a Visitors Day. Make it fun and make sure you smile. You don’t necessarily have to go crazy, but let your hair down a little bit and enjoy it just like you would in any other meeting so that if nothing else, when the visitor comes back for their second visit a week later, it is kind of back to business and fun, the relationship – you know, they don’t feel like you were putting on a show just for the one Visitor’s Day.
I agree completely. I love this. I hadn’t expected that to be on the list. It is really accurate. I had a friend who is a professional singer and she was the lead – I don’t want to give away the ending. She did an audition for Phantom of the Opera for the lead female singer. She said she went in, she did her audition and she was really stiff. It was all about perfection in every step. She didn’t get it.
She had a call back. She said, “Oh, the heck with it. I am just going to go for it and have fun.” She went for it, had fun, nailed it. She became the lead female singer in Phantom of the Opera in New York for years.
When she went in, she went having fun. To the chapters, have some fun. It’s okay. You know, you did a lot of work. Enjoy it and show the visitors that this can be a fun group.
Well, we are way out of time. Nate, I want to thank you for being on this call. I would love to have you back again. You have some great content here and I think this is really valuable for any chapter that is doing a Visitors Day. And Visitors Days can really help chapters be more successful.
Nate, thank you so much.
Thank you .
Priscilla, over to you.
Okay, great. Thank you both. My chapter is just about to do a Visitors Day, so this is very timely. Well, I would just like to remind the listeners that this podcast has been brought to you by the Networking for Success Channel on YouTube. Thanks so much for listening. This is Priscilla Rice and we look forward to having you join us next week for another exciting episode of the Official BNI Podcast.