BNI Education Slots

The Visitors Experience

You might have seen on Facebook recently this week, I apparently am joint fourth in the UK and Ireland for BNI for bringing visitors in July, which is quite good. Thank you. So with that in mind, you might think I’d do an education slot today on how to find visitors and how to invite them and how to bring them into the chapter. But I’m not going to do that, because we’re having a bit of initiative at the moment where we’re trying to get more people into the room and everybody’s doing their bit to get visitors into the room, so what I’m going to talk about is what to do when they actually get here. So, I am going to give you seven essential tips for what to do to make visitors feel welcome in the room when they arrive, and hopefully all the visitors today felt quite welcome when they came into the room.

Okay, number one: turn up. I realise that sounds like a bit of an obvious one, but turning up to a meeting is important and if you can’t be here, then make sure you have a substitute equally important. Now, there are other networking groups that exist that don’t have the same attendance policy that BNI has. Visitors in the room who are new to BNI – when you join the BNI chapter, you have to attend every meeting, or you have to send a substitute to every meeting. That could be a work colleague, it could be a friend, it could be a supplier, it could be a client, it could be a family member – anybody you like to turn up to a meeting. It could be another BNI member from another chapter.

Now, the reason that’s important is because other networking groups that don’t have these restrictions on making sure you turn up to every meeting, you don’t get as much business from them because they’re a little bit more flexible; you can go, you can not go, you can give a contribution, you can not give a contribution, and if that’s right for you, then that’s great. But I’m a member of other networking groups like this and you cannot see the same person for two three months at a time. If you don’t turn up to a meeting, then suddenly you turn up three months later, do you think they’re going to give you a referral? BNI has this attendance policy because it works and we get business from it. Steve, you were telling me earlier how much you had got in referrals in business this year since January. Can tell us what that was? £97,000. From BNI, being in this room and in other rooms, because you visit other chapters as well. You have the opportunity to serve other chapters, which is why it’s important to turn up every week or send a substitute. As I say, there are other networking groups you can go to where it doesn’t have that attendance policy. But you are not going to get the kind of business; they are not set up to get you business, they are set up to be sociable, which BNI isn’t.

Number two: turn up on time. Richard, what time does this networking meeting start? 6:45 is the correct answer, thank you Richard. BNI starts at 6:45 for open networking, not at 6:50, not at 6:55, not at 7, not 7:05. 6:45 is when it starts for open networking. Some of the visitors were here much earlier than that. Steve, I imagine you were first in the room. Course it was. What time did you get here? 6:15? I was still in the bathroom at 6:15. The earlier you get here, the more chance you get for networking, the more chance you get to build a relationship. Steve is usually the first person in the room, it’s probably no surprise that Steve has earned £97,000 from BNI since January.

Number four: wear your badge. I know some people don’t like wearing badges; they think it’s like being in school; like being in nursery. The badge isn’t for you, it’s not for me. The badge is there for the visitors. Now, there are memory techniques you can do when you meet a load of people that can help you remember their names. I can’t do that, I’m absolutely useless at it. I can’t remember somebody’s name about 15 seconds after they told me, which is why the badges are important. So you wear your badge for the visitors, because if they’re talking to you and you haven’t got a badge on, it’s quite embarrassing for them to ask ten minutes later “Sorry, what was your name again?”

Number four: don’t stand in closed groups of BNI members talking to each other, because it’s very difficult for a visitor to talk to you if there’s three of you stood together in a bit of a huddle. If you stand in enclosed groups and you’re talking to each other, it’s very difficult for someone who doesn’t know you to then walk up and say hello. Not everybody is confident enough to interrupt a group and talk to them. I’m not, I don’t like doing it. I hate talking to people; I prefer talking at people rather than to people. So, make sure you don’t stand in closed groups of two or three people having a bit of a chat. If you’ve got something you need to talk about with the member, that’s perfectly fine. But if you’re having a chat about things that aren’t that particularly relevant, keep an eye open for visitors.

Number five: introduce yourself to every visitor. They’ve made the effort to come here to see you, they’ve made the effort to get up in the morning and turn up to see us. Show that you appreciate it by walking up, talking to them and introducing yourself. Now I know Richard, you usually make an effort to do this, being chapter president. Show them that you appreciate the fact that they’ve come along by introducing yourself.

Number six: don’t leave visitors, substitutes or BNI members from other chapters stood on their own not talking to anybody. It doesn’t matter who they are, keep an eye open for people that are just stood there because they don’t like to walk up to people and talk to them. It’s all quiet intimidating, particularly in a room full of people they don’t know. You all know each other, they don’t.

And number seven – this is probably the most obvious and probably the least important but I’m going to say it anyway: if you see a visitor just stood there without a brew in their hand, offer them a coffee, offer them a tea. We’re all visitor hosts. It is all of our jobs to make sure that visitors have the best experience they have when they come here, because we want them to enjoy themselves, we want them to come back, we want them to think ‘this is a great chapter, I’d really like to be a part of this, I’d really like to put in an application’. We need to make sure that they have the best experience they can have when they come here. And that is all. Thank you very much.

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