From the Founder

Make Money for Showing Up!

Featuring guest co-author Beatrice Sparacino


Have you ever gotten an haircut… over the phone? Probably not. It’s just one of those things that you have to actually be present for. Well, it turns out – so is BNI.  People join BNI to exchange referrals and increase their business. Intellectually, we understand that it is important to build relationships but it may not be obvious just how critical that is to the referral process.

We discovered the impact that attendance had on the organization many years ago when some BNI groups met twice a month. Yes, it’s true – some groups actually met twice a month back in 1985. Why don’t we do that now you might be wondering?  Well, that’s an easy answer.  We discovered that chapters that met twice a month passed 52% less referrals than groups meeting weekly!!!  Did that really sink in just now?  They passed 52% less referrals than groups that met weekly. That is a shocking statistic.  When the groups were shown this hard data back in ’85, every single group except one switched to meeting weekly.  The one group that refused shut down from lack of success a few months later.  Consequently, since early 1986, all BNI groups have met weekly.

The co-author of this article, Beatrice Sparacino, found similar and compelling evidence as part of her recent theses from the University of Bocconi in Milan Italy. In her study, she looked at the amount of closed business compared to the number of absences per member in her region.  As the graph below indicates, those members who had fewer absences are also the members who received more closed business. You can see in the graph that as the number of absences double, the amount of closed business a member generated actually falls by more than 50%!  Does that statistic sound familiar?  It hasn’t changed over the years. Less absences within a chapter, equal more referrals and more closed business. The data is compelling.

BNI is an accelerator for business referrals, reducing the time required to build relationships and trust between people. That trust enables you to receive referrals and obtain more closed business.  In this sense, being present at your chapter’s meeting every week keeps you “top of mind” for all your fellow members.

Recently Massimo Osenga, a member in Vercelli Italy did a short training on the importance of being present to his chapter.  He said that some time ago, he became very passionate about a famous reality television show. In particular, he really loved one couple competing in the show.  He started following them on Twitter, Facebook and other social media. And then, the unthinkable happened.  His favorite couple was eliminated from the competition and were no longer on the show. At first, Massimo was very disappointed.  However, after a number of weeks, they were invited back as guests to the show. It was at that point that he realized that in that incredibly short period of time he totally forgot about his favorite contestants!!!

The old adage “out of sight, out of mind” is absolutely true also when it comes to referrals in BNI.  Members who think that missing meetings regularly doesn’t really matter are clearly mistaken.  The data is crystal clear.  Miss meetings and lose business or make meetings and get business.  The data is very compelling and has been since the start.

The choice is yours!

It’s up to you to decide what you want to get out of your Chapter experience.

Called the “father of modern networking” by CNN, Dr. Ivan Misner is a New York Times bestselling author.  He is the Founder and Chief Visionary Officer of BNI, the world’s largest business networking organization.  His new book, Avoiding the Networking Disconnect can be viewed at Amazon.com.

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