There are many advantages to being a small business — you’re versatile, flexible and you can get things done fast, but the goal is always to grow and become a larger operation. Similarly, with BNI, the bigger your chapter, the better your results. There is more energy, more referrals and more business. Even if your chapter isn’t so big, it can be an advantage to Act Like a Big Chapter. Why?
- If we act like what we wish to become, we will become it.
- It stops some sloppy habits creeping in that are the antithesis of growth.
Here are four tips from BNI Regional Director Consultant Niki Gunning on how your smaller chapter can act big and become big:
- Run the meeting succinctly. Stick to your time allocations: keep to your 60 seconds and 10 minute allocations. 8:30 is a ‘finish by’ not a target (or a finish at time). Because there is a sense of having spare time, smaller chapters often try to add extra things to the meeting. Don’t be frightened of finishing early – it gives the members more precious networking time and more time to spend with visitors.
- Don’t talk general business in the meeting. Smaller chapters tend to end up discussing visitors, growth and all sorts of other things throughout the course of the meeting. There is no general business in the BNI agenda. It wastes time and is often inappropriate, particularly if there are visitors present. I suggested to a chapter recently, that had fallen into this trap, to run the meeting according to the agenda and use the extra time afterwards for a growth meeting where they could invite members to stay if they wished.
- Do not lose your professionalism. BNI is unashamedly a business organisation and our meetings are business meetings. If a member does their 10 minute on their recent overseas trip, all members will love it – however this 10 minute is not strictly business and will not give information that will help members find quality referrals for the member. They can only find you referrals if you help them with quality, informative presentations at the BNI meeting.
- Have you become too friendly? We know it feels an uncomfortable question to ask, however we see it happen and know it ultimately prevents growth. As Ivan Misner said “the great thing about a networking organisation is that everyone becomes friends, however the challenge with a networking organisation is that everyone becomes friends and friends do not keep each other accountable.” Remember, your chapter is only as strong as your weakest link – hold members accountable and give support to those who need become better networkers.
BNI in 2017 has a diverse membership. Women, men, all races, all ages, all cultures and all sorts of backgrounds – this diversity is part of our strength. Keep things professional and avoid joking behaviour that may cause offense. I was at a BNI meeting recently with 46 people in attendance. It was run professionally, because when there are those numbers it must be, and the room was buzzing.
So, small chapters remember that size matters: Dream big and most importantly, act big.