Meeting every week is a commitment. Some people don’t like meeting week in and week out. So in 1986, as an experiment, I opened seven chapters that met twice a month. Over time, we found that these groups passed 52% less referrals than the groups that met every week. I was disappointed, but I was not surprised. I visited each group individually, and I said, “If I could show you one thing that will double the number of referrals you get in your group, would you do it?” They all said, “Yes, of course!” I then said, “Meet every week.” I showed them the data, and I had six of the seven groups successfully make the change. One would not. That one was closed within the year. By 1987, all BNI groups then met weekly.
I’ve talked about this many times over the years and you can find the above story in the book, Givers Gain, The BNI Story. What I’ve never written about is “why” I think that the weekly meetings produced double the results of the groups that met twice a month, so I’ve been giving it some thought. Here are the reasons that I believe weekly meetings generate double the amount of business of groups that meet twice a month:
- Weekly meetings are a form of “spaced repetition.” Spaced repetition builds a habit of learning and engagement that leads to success. There is a massive amount of research on this concept, including a 2016 Dartmouth paper published in the Journal of Policy Insights From the Behavioral and Brain Sciences.
- The avoidance of “benign neglect.” Benign neglect is where relationships deteriorate over time. It is not always intentional, but it is almost always damaging to long-term relationship building. Meeting weekly makes that virtually impossible.
- Practice, practice, practice. We all know deep down that if you want to excel at anything, you have to practice. Professional athletes do NOT stop practicing when they are at the top of their game. Business people shouldn’t either. Meeting every week is about improving and learning. It is the conditioning and practice to be a champion in business.
- VCP® (Visibility, Credibility, Profitability) is all about the process of building relationships that lead to on-going referrals. Meeting weekly is a force-multiplier to moving through these stages.
- Seeing people every single week keeps your fellow members “top of mind.” You know you are going to see them on your meeting day, so you incorporate your presentations and referral activity on a weekly basis. When you meet weekly, you can’t set the program to the side. It is consistent and structured. Plus, and this point can’t be underestimated – it’s important to give referrals while they are hot. The longer you wait, the more than can cool down.
All of this leads to more business. Time and time again, the data has shown that there is a direct and dramatic linear correlation between attending the BNI meetings regularly and generating more business (a lot more business).
For many years I’ve said that if you want to be really successful in business, you need to do “six things a thousand times, not a thousand things six times.” Meeting every week to practice your networking skills is a six-things-a-thousand-times strategy. Learning how to refer your fellow members and consistently passing referrals is a tried and true method of building life-long referrals and relationships.
BNI’s CEO, Graham Weihmiller, likes to say that BNI is the CrossFit of networking. I couldn’t agree more. Consider your weekly BNI meeting to be your networking aerobics and make the most of your commitment.