Myth buster! We should only invite visitors that are prospective members.
We all know that visitors are the lifeblood of BNI. But the blood flow will be a trickle if we pre-qualify visitors to the point that we only invite visitors that we think might be potential members for the chapter.
The bigger the chapter, the more spots that are taken and only inviting potential members really limits who we can invite when we also consider their skills, attitude, and availability.
You might only meet such a person once a year and they turn out to already be a member of BNI!
The truth is that ANY visitor that isn’t a jerk, seems like they would enjoy the meeting and, dependent on your chapter (advanced chapters don’t worry about visitor classification conflicts), doesn’t directly conflict with an existing member.
All visitors bring hidden value beyond being prospective members.
Hidden Value of Visitors
Our chapter launched March 6, 2018, and as the Vice President of the new chapter, I was the feature presenter for our second meeting as an official chapter. My parents have never missed a netball game, dance recital, or any other activity – even in my adulthood – so this was no different. My dad came as my first registered BNI visitor. He’s an engineer in a manufacturing company so he wasn’t a prospect, but he was interested to see what was taking place in my life every Tuesday morning.
After hearing my presentation, my dad said that while he “knew” what I did for a living (practicing law, primarily in the non-profit sector), he had never really understood what types of introductions might be valuable to me. About a week later, he introduced me to the wife of a co-worker, who happened to be an accountant at a very large firm that works with a lot of the non-profit organisations in our area. She has since made multiple referrals to me, including the largest BNI-originating referral I’ve received to date. My parents are also working with our chapter’s financial advisor and have used the services of several others in the chapter – all because I brought a non-prospect visitor to meet my fellow chapter Members.
I tell this story enthusiastically and often. Members, never pre-judge a prospective visitor, and certainly never qualify the invitation. The average BNI visitor brings $1,000 in closed business to the chapter, even if they don’t (or can’t) join. Beyond the closed business, though, they bring so much more. That added excitement in the room. The push to be our very best, every meeting. And you never know what services or products they may be looking for, or what introductions they may be able to make for you.
When you meet someone, who has a great attitude and seems like they would enjoy your BNI meeting, just invite them.
You will be doing them, yourself, your chapter, and your fellow members a huge favour.
The connections, energy, focus that come from visitors, even if they don’t join, are immense. And you never know, they might even apply to join!