I speak to BNI Members all over the world, especially new members who come to me and tell me how frustrated they are to be getting very few referrals from their group. They always want to know what the secret is to making BNI work for them. At this point I realize they have come into the organization with an unrealistic expectation.
You must first invest in the chapter and members before you can expect to make a withdrawal. Just as you would with your retirement account, deposit a little at a time over a period of time and you’ll accumulate the funds to make a withdrawal. Think of your BNI Chapter and the members in exactly the same way. Invest in the relationships a little at a time, over time and you will be able to withdraw from the group in very effective ways.
BNI is a long game. It is small steps repeated over and over again. It is not a “get rich” scheme Just as you can not start withdrawing your pension or retirement income the day you start your job, you cannot expect that people who barely know you or your business are going to start throwing referrals your way.
So what can you do to invest in your chapter and members? There are really only two things that you need to focus on for the next 6-12 months.
As a brand new member you come to the table with something that the rest of the members do not have, and that is your network. You have spent years developing relationships with people, they already know you, do business with you and trust you. These are the people that you can bring along to your chapter to meet the people you are building relationship with. Bringing your network to the table is a great way to begin to build credibility with your fellow members. They see you as a contributor and not a taker.
The next important thing for you to do is One-to-One’s. When you are inducted into the chapter your chapter President will give you a Passport to Success. This is a great tool to start your one-to-one process, each person in the passport will be scheduling you for a one-to-one meeting to mentor you on the things that are important for you to know about what happens in the chapter. It is also a good time to get to know each other.
BNI meetings are great for doing the business of BNI and connecting with the members of your chapter, but it is not the place where you are going to be building the relationships that will generate trust and credibility like the one-to-ones will.
As a new member you must set aside the time to invest in the chapter and in the relationships with the members. Most new members think that BNI is just 90-minutes per week. The reality is trust and credibility take time and investment. You must set aside time to build these relationships.
In the first year you will notice low-level referrals or member-to-member referrals and you will likely pass member-to-member referrals. Buying from one another is a key way of testing each other on the way that we do business. In the first year this is good business and if you do a good job, show up on time, and do what you say you are going to do, you have built your credibility higher and by the time 12-18 months have passed you will start to see Tier 2 or External referrals start to happen. You have built trust and credibility with your fellow members. The longer you are a member who continues to invest, you will gain bigger and bigger referrals.
The 3 most important things for a New Member to do:
- Bring your network to the chapter.
- Do one-to-one’s
- Try out the businesses in your chapter and allow them to try out your services.
So if you think you are going to join a group and clean up on the referrals right away, please rethink your expectation. You are asking a room full of people to trust you, as well as your abilities. Trust takes time and investment. Find ways to invest in your chapter and in the members.
Remember, Givers Gain.
Keep it Simple,