Home » BNI Members continue to build strong business relationships through online One to Ones during Lockdown

BNI Members continue to build strong business relationships through online One to Ones during Lockdown

by Richard Foulkes

One to Ones are key to taking your BNI Chapter beyond a superficial level of interaction and unlocking referral partnerships.

Right now, during the lockdown, many members have much more time to get the One to Ones done that will power the chapter forward post lockdown.

This education is designed to encourage chapter members to carry out as many One to Ones as practically possible during the lockdown and to suggest a structure to use for the One to Ones to make them worth the time spent on them.

To Zoom or not to Zoom?

During the lockdown, many members’ businesses will be on pause. This gives us a great opportunity to use any newfound spare time to One to One with your fellow Chapter members.

Not only might we have more time but it’s also a whole lot easier to catch up via Zoom, Teams, Hangouts, whatever your preferred platform is than it is to meet face to face. No travel, parking, or awkwardness about who is paying for the coffee! It’s true meeting face to face is more nuanced but online makes a decent substitute at a time like this especially after our first One to One with another member.

One to One Structure 

At present, there is good reason to One to One just to say “Hi, how are you going?” The support we give each other is a great part of BNI and so important right now. But it’s also a great time to deepen relationships to future proof generating more business when it’s possible to do business freely again.

For the first One to One, the BNI GAINS sheet is a great foundation for a discussion. It sets out a structure that makes it easy to see common interests, skills, and useful networks. It keeps the first One to One on point. It’s a good idea to send each other your GAINS sheet before the meeting to make the meeting more effective. Your first One to One is all about establishing rapport and common ground, it’s not an opportunity to sell to each other.

Top APP Tip

You can keep your GAINS Sheet updated in the BNI Connect APP under MORE/MY BIO/GAINS Profile and the other member can view your GAINS profile in their APP (if you have allowed that in your APP account settings).

Subsequent One to Ones 

Lockdown is a great opportunity to have subsequent One to Ones that can lead to referral partnerships. These rarely happen after just 1 One to One. The key with subsequent One to Ones is to recognise if you are mainly catching up to deepen a friendship or to deepen a friendship that will lead to a business relationship.

One to Ones can be dismissed as a waste of time if they are just a coffee catch-up or are purposeless but are still called One to Ones. It’s fine if they are but recognise that’s what they are instead of dismissing One to Ones as a waste of time. If you need to prioritize the amount of time you spend on your One to One’s, then strategize having them with members that can help your clients or where you can help their clients and make sure they have a purpose and an outcome.

When conducted properly, subsequent Ones to Ones are about deepening trust and rapport but also about really getting to understand how the other members’ business works, how their ethos and values mesh with yours, and exactly how they can help your clients.

Subsequent One to One Structure

Any good business meeting has an agenda, minutes taken, and agreed on outcomes. Subsequent One to Ones should be similarly structured …. And can be mixed with a dollop of fun or a glass of wine!

For an Agenda asking questions like these, can help you understand each other better:
1.Give me an example of your ideal client
2.How do you charge?
3.How busy are you/what is your capacity for new clients?
4.What is your lead time to take a client on?
5.Which geographical areas do you prefer to work in?
6.Do you offer free consultations?
7.What happens to your customer service when you get busy?
8.Are you interested in leads?
9.How can I easily introduce you to referrals?
10.How qualified would you like referrals?
11.Do you need specialist equipment/skills/technology to do what you do?
12.How do you differ from your competitors?
13.What are your operating hours?
14.Do you have a complaints process?
15.Do you have marketing materials I can pass on?

These are just a few of the questions that probe beneath the surface to learn how the other member can help your clients, friends, and families.

Just as critical is discussing what is next to take the business relationship further.. schedule another One to One, discuss clients you have that the member might be able to help and deciding on the next steps, put on a joint seminar.. don’t leave the meeting without agreeing on next steps.


One to Ones, done well, are always fun but are critical to unlocking referral relationships. Treat them in essence as a business meeting with a friend.

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