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How to invite visitors

by Richard Foulkes

Quick recap – The ABC and D of WHO to invite

We covered the ABC and D of WHO to invite last week. Invite on A = Attitude, B = if the visitor can bring us Business, not because we want to give them business (they don’t even need to have a business) and D = Invite freely, however, be Deliberate as well by inviting the best from your network if there is a specific category the chapter are looking to fill. 

Inviting is a game everyone should play

This week, we are talking about HOW to invite. Inviting visitors is often only done by a few members of a chapter. Somehow they find it easy. But leaving it to a few members means our chapter doesn’t get a steady stream of visitors each week to get business from and grow the chapter. This is why our chapter tends to stay within 2-5 members of the same size unless a short-term focus is put onto visitors.


So, if most people in the chapter were originally invited to the chapter by someone else, why don’t more of us invite visitors more often?

Answers might include:

“I tried, they said no, I don’t like rejection”, “I don’t know how”, “I didn’t know I should or could”, “I’ve invited everyone I know already” or maybe ” I just don’t meet new people”.

How to Invite

The key is to develop your style. As with anything worthwhile, it takes practise to be good at inviting.

So, getting off the side-lines and onto the field of play and trying to invite means you will get better at it. As you get better at inviting you might still hear no, but you will get better at hearing it and moving on to invite the next person. If you invite regularly, you will inevitably have some people who will say yes! Once you realise that asking someone and them saying NO is not a bad thing, there will be a lot more people you can invite, which may help you to overcome the feeling of “not knowing anyone I can invite”.

Remember, if you believe our meetings are fun, worthwhile, and valuable, then you are offering a visitor something quite precious in inviting them to share your network. We should never forget that. You are doing them a favour.

You may also find getting good at inviting will help you overcome sales reluctance in your own business, which is a major personal growth opportunity. So, what are some ideas on what to say to a potential visitor? (You can ask the chapter for ideas or just go to the next slide for some suggestions).

Potential Invite openers you can try.

It can make it easier to ask for permission to invite, rather than just to invite them. It’s a subtle difference but it helps.

  1. I am part of a local business networking group I think you’d enjoy; may I invite you to a meeting?
  2. If you are looking to grow your business it might be worth you coming to my networking chapter, it’s helped me, are you free next week?
  3. There is someone in my networking group I’d like to introduce you to, are you free to come to a meeting?
  4. You seem like you enjoy meeting new people, why don’t you come to my networking group sometime?
  5. If you are looking for a new way to market your business, I’m part of a referral network group. May I invite you to come to one of our meetings – or would you like to come to one of our meetings

These can seem stilted or formulaic, so they need to be tried out and changed to suit you. They are only conversation openers, once the conversation starts you can explain more. They can be used in an email, a text, on Facebook or LinkedIn, on the phone or in person, whichever you are more comfortable with.

Helpful Tips

Try not to entice a visitor with the promise of potential referrals. BNI is based on Givers Gain® so promising referrals as an inducement to come may get their experience off on the wrong foot.

If you have to invite 5 people to get a yes, every “no” brings you closer to a “yes”. So, each “no” is an investment towards a new visitor for your chapter!

Don’t try to sell BNI, BNI sells itself once you get the visitor into the room! Rather than going into detail, talk about how much you like it and why it has been helpful to you and your business. You don’t want to get into the nitty gritty of what happens when and why and the attendance policy early on, these are details that can come later once you know if they are interested or not.

NB: Offering people, a “free breakfast” possibly attracts the wrong type of visitor.

BNI – Top Tip – Take Action!

Try inviting someone where there is nothing to lose – like your Mum! – just for practise. If she comes along she will have a great time and, (optional statement) finally believe that you have friends after all!

As a chapter activity, please stand-up members who have successfully invited one or more visitors (applause please), now can we pair you up with those that are still sitting down so you can help each other?

You were invited by someone and you enjoy and find BNI worthwhile, so who do you know who may enjoy and benefit from this BNI thing too?

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