I’ve been part of each of these types of chapters during my 18 years as part of BNI!
Most recently, I’ve been spending my blood, sweat, and a TON of tears helping START new chapters. I’ve scrambled to find 40 people to send letters to for a visitor’s day to help GROW my chapter. And, many years ago, my BNI Chapter went through a RE-start, which was the Members NOT GIVING-UP on our Chapter. Each has its own set of challenges AND successes!
As a Business Coach in my personal Chapter (Keystone Lunch), part of how I describe what I do is to “help people ‘start, grow and not-give-up-on’ their business.” So, in a sense, that’s what I have done, and do as a Member, and a BNI Launch Director. Good members all learn how much BNI “IS” part of their business and how it affects their business.
As I am working with these Core groups which are striving to become BNI Chapters, I get asked quite often what the difference is between starting a chapter and getting into an established chapter. My response is always the same, “In a Start-Up, you BUILD the love together, and in an established Chapter, you have to WIN the love”. You’re either IN the trenches together, building the chapter, establishing the relationships early-on and growing TOGETHER, or, you come in to a Chapter, sometimes after a long-time member in that industry has left you with BIG SHOES to fill, established relationship and expectations. You’ll have to work hard to establish the relationships, WIN the love, and give, give and GIVE to earn the trust.
It’s all work, just different. Not everyone has what it takes to START a Chapter. It takes a big network and dedication. And thick skin. But, isn’t that what we ALL need to survive in business (and BNI)?
Let me preface this by helping you understand the people I’m working with have probably never been in BNI, due to their industry, AND many have NEVER even been to an actual BNI meeting! So, they’re curious! Especially after a few months of attempting to invite people to come visit their “core group” when they themselves haven’t ever fully experienced BNI, so they immediately try to “sell” BNI, as they can’t prove what BNI has done for them.
As a BNI Launch Director, we always suggest they visit our Showcase Chapter, Excellence in Networking to see how it’s done. I’ve also taken some core group members to other Chapters to see the difference. And, we always ask the question, “What did you like and what did you NOT like?” It’s very interesting, and the common denominator is… “they wall want what a ‘real chapter’ has to offer!” The referrals and thank-you dollars are flying, they hear the testimonials, and they see the relationships/friendships. It hooks them, but… the hard part, as many of us know is INVITING! And if you don’t have the network, or the tenacity to keep going when you’ve heard NO 15 times, as I have seen, they get frustrated and burn-out.
My job is to help these potential Members stay FOCUSED and MOTIVATED to achieve their GOAL: to START and “have” a BNI Chapter of their very own! And, like some of the clients I have had, it doesn’t always happen, as fast as expected from any side, and sometimes it takes a little bit of “tough love”! So, when you’re thinking about STARTING, GROWING or how to NOT GIVE-UP on your Chapter, think about the work you’ve put in, can put in, and what YOU can bring to the table. And, if you are in an established chapter, and you have colleagues that would like to get into a BNI Chapter, have them contact me, we’re always looking for that “next generation” of BNI-ers!
One of my favorite quotes: “I never said it would be easy, I only said it would be worth it.” ~Mae West
Sandi Ballard, acc, cvacc Motivator. Taskmaster. Connector… COACH!
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