Networking Tips

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What is the Point of Visitors?

By: BNI Staff
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    Networking Tips

  • Author

    BNI Staff

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Submitted by Braith Bamkin, Executive Director – BNI Melbourne West & Geelong and Melbourne Central

If I knew what I know now about the purpose of visitors when I was a member, my experience of BNI would have been so much richer and I could have helped many more fellow members.  But as they say, better late than never and today I hope to share some insight into the value of visitors into your chapter.

Many people say to me at the Member Success Program that they resent having to bring visitors to BNI to ‘grow’ BNI.  But nothing could be further from the truth.  Firstly, any activity a member engages in is for the good of the chapter, which should be everyone's motivation.  Secondly, no one, except the membership committee can actually invite anyone to ‘join’ BNI.

I had a situation once where a member invited her best friend to ‘join’ BNI in the lucrative Mortgage Brokers category.  To cut a long story short that person was not successful, not because she wasn’t a great person but the chapter was inundated with applicants and they chose a better fit.  But who do you think she blamed for not getting in?  Of course her (now former) friend.  Do yourself a favour and don’t invite people along to ‘join’ because it can end in disaster.

If you have a position to fill in your chapter, I like using Dr. Ivan Misner’s “we’re interviewing” technique.  Check out this podcast to learn more about that.

Did you know around 30% of closed business comes from visitors?  So if your chapter is bringing a constant source of potential new customers into the room, chances are, everyone will share in the spoils.

Most people won’t apply to join BNI - which is no problem.  But many of them will actually do business with someone in the room.  But there is one key thing Visitor Hosts MUST do to ensure maximum business opportunities occur.  At the end of visitor orientation, visitors hosts should say “Who in the room today would you like a personal introduction to now”.  About a third of visitors will actually ask to meet someone (usually because they want to buy from them).  This is a great reason to have a clear chapter trade sheet available to all members and visitors each week - but that's a whole other blog post.

The second surefire tactic to increase visitor business is for the visitor host in the follow-up phone call to ask the same question, but obviously via phone or email connection.  About another third will ask for a connection because 48 hours later, they have identified a need a member can solve or the meeting information finally percolated into their sphere of relevance.

Either way, two thirds of visitors will actually want  a connection - how powerful is that for your chapter’s closed business?  Check out this podcast from our founder, to learn the real value of every visitor that walks into your chapter.  

In another post I’ll talk more about inviting, but now you know the reason behind a visitor, why not try inviting a few people this week to ‘meet your network’.  Afterall, when one of your chapter members solves a problem your visitor is having, it will be you that is the hero all round.

In another post I’ll talk more about inviting, but now you know the reason behind a visitor, why not try inviting a few people this week to ‘meet your network’.  Afterall, when one of your chapter members solves a problem your visitor is having, it will be you that is the hero all round.