BNI Visitors – The Do’s And Don’ts

Today’s education slot was delivered by Kirsty Watson of The Law Practice and focused on improving how we invite and managing our relationships with visitors;

Firstly; Why invite visitors?

  • Visitors bring a fresh energy and outlook to meetings
  • They are the lifeblood of a Chapter and essential for growth and survival
  • Visitors open up a new network and bring with them a pool of potential referrals even if they never join
  • Gives existing members an opportunity to demonstrate the trust we have between fellow members & the success of BNI

Who should you invite?

  • People who are not already a member – obvious I know but remember that just because their company is a member of another chapter this doesn’t discount them from being in the Bravo Team
  • People who live/work within 30 mins of the venue
  • People looking for more business or those just starting up
  • People who’s category isn’t already filled within the Chapter
  • Past clients or existing business contacts who could be the start of your new power team



Where can you find visitors;

  • Cold callers – someone who calls you trying to sell something is clearly looking for more business, don’t just try to get rid of them, instead have a chat, invite them along – tell them you would be willing to hear more about their business at the meeting.
  • Local publications/adverts/social media or fliers through your door – all of these show the person is keen to get more business – therefore BNI is a perfect tool for them
  • Your suppliers – they want to keep their customers happy and will be keen to work more with you


How to invite visitors:

  • Be careful not to pre-qualify people out of an invitation – don’t be too pushy or try to sell, you are not inviting someone with the sole purpose of them becoming a member (although obviously this is a benefit!) even one visit opens up a pool of referrals – instead the aim is just to get them along to a meeting – then let the welcoming atmosphere and friendly faces do the rest – if they get the BNI ethos they get it, if they don’t they don’t.
  • Start off with open ended questions – how’s business? Can you cope with more business? What are you doing next Thursday morning? Would you like to come along and meet some of my business contacts that could help grow your business?
  • Don’t do too much talking – sometimes the more you say the more chance you have of talking someone out of coming along
  • Sell the benefits – business growth/new friends&contacts rather than mentioning the commitments; weekly meetings, the early start, joining
  • Physically there are various ways to invite visitors but what is important is to make multiple “touches” so invite them in advance so they have enough notice, then follow up with some information about times/place/heads up on having a 60secs prepared and finally follow up with a reminder the day before and to ease any last min fears/queries – people are less likely to back out if some element of the unknown is removed.


Looking after visitors;

  • Preparation is key – remember you never get a 2nd chance to make a good 1st impression!

–      brief your visitor before the meeting particularly re the chance to do a 60 slot and bring business cards

–      advise your other chapter members and crucially the visitor hosts that a vistor will be attending.

–      Arrive before the visitor and make sure you have sufficient visitor packs/name badges and place settings to make the individual feel welcome

–      Take the time to introduce the visitor to other members in particular those in complementary lines of business


Turning Visitors into members;

  • Always follow up with a visitor and thank them for coming, provide them with further details including about joining and explain they would be welcome to visit again.
  • It is always useful to follow up even with those who have backed out or cancelled their visit as this may be enough to relay in fears and make them more likely to come along


Finally when it comes to inviting visitor remember practice makes perfect, so lets all get out there and rally some new faces to join Team Bravo!

The Social Side of BNI

This weeks education slot was delivered by our resident painter and decorator Gareth Findlater and dealt with a subject very close to his heart – the social side of BNI. Take it away Gareth…

For much of my youth I played team sports, football in particular and one thing that was just as important then as it is now was team spirit – and how to maintain it. Its easy to forget that, in BNI Bravo, we are a team too. We work as a team – get results as a team – learn as a team and, it follows that we  should socialise as a team.

BNI doesn’t take up a lot of our time in a week. 2-3 hours at our meetings, 1-2 hours on 1-2-1s so there’s really no reason why we shouldn’t be able to incorporate BNI social events into our business too and, of course, socialising is a good way to build the camaraderie within the group. Its a great way of getting to know each other a bit better in an more relaxed surroundings and it helps to promote informal discussions about business.

Build Trust

One of the best things about socialising with fellow BNI’ers is that social events and team bonding helps to build up trust with each other. We can learn more about each others business and discover what other members are looking for business wise making it easier to find referrals for them.

We are not talking about having something every week. Normally, 3-4 social events in a 6 month period are sufficient. We also get plenty of warning – at least 4 weeks and sometimes as much as 8 weeks notice for the bigger events. If it is a cross-chapter social event then attending it could lead to a whole host of opportunities to make more contacts for your network and learn more about the other chapters members.

Invite partners/wives/husbands/friends/lovers(?!?) if they can make it because you never know who they know and who or what could crop up in conversation.

So, now that we understand how important the social side of BNI is, let’s make an extra effort to attend social events as it takes a lot of time and effort to organise these things.

You never know who you could meet and you will enjoy yourself and get to know your team mates better.

Personally I am proud to be part of my team bravo from both the business side and socially.


Good Referrals

This week’s education slot was delivered by Dave Simpson of Granite SEO and was on the subject of good referrals.

Why Are Referrals Important?

Why do we get up in the middle of the night to visit BNI every week? Is it for a good breakfast, a cup of coffee and a chat or even to hook up with like-minded business people and talk about our worldly woes? The answer, of course, is no. We do it to generate business and make money.

That’s why referrals, or to be more precise, quality referrals are so important (as well as being a sign of a healthy and successful Chapter).

Quality referrals translate into good business, increased profits, happier members and, ultimately into a growing and prosperous Chapter.

In fact, in my opinion, good quality referrals are probably the most important part of any BNI Chapters success.

What Makes A Good Referral?

A good referral should be laser targeted. It helps, of course, if you actually know what the person you are giving the referral to does for a living so make sure that you have regular 1-2-1’s with them, get to understand their business and listen when they give their 60 seconds every week.

A good referral should be timely. Don’t pass a referral slip for a job that’s months away. You’re wasting your fellow member’s time, and your client won’t thank you for a call they aren’t expecting yet. Instead, give the referral at the appropriate time. It may be the day, the week or even several weeks before depending on the circumstances.

A good referral should be genuine. Let’s be honest we’ve all thought about passing ‘dodgy’ referrals at some time. But this is a very bad idea. Why? Well, random, un-targeted referrals, speculative referrals or ones based on casual conversations down the pub don’t convert. Your fellow members waste time chasing poor quality leads that end up going nowhere and your clients become upset fending off inquiries from BNI members they haven’t asked to speak to (or don’t know). Ultimately, everyone will lose faith in you and your business as well as your membership will suffer. Its better to pass one quality referral a week than 3 or 4 dodgy ones.

Giving and Receiving Good Referrals

Looking for good referrals? Well, you can help by being specific. One thing I like to do every week before the meeting is to spend a few minutes looking at fellow BNI members Linkedin profiles and identifying specific contacts that I want to put in touch with. Then, during the meeting ask the specific member for the specific contact – being specific works! (Are you getting the message here?). This has worked well for me in the past.

Listen to your clients. Look for opportunities to refer fellow BNI members if they arise and pick the appropriate time to broach the subject with your client.

Seek your client’s permission. This is so important. Ask them if its ok for Bob to phone them about their carpet cleaning and then let them know that you will be getting him to contact them in the next day or 2. When Bob does in touch, the client will recognise him and will immediately be more receptive to his call.

Why Referrals are Better than Leads

For starters a referral has trust built in. I spend most of my working life online so I understand the problems associated with trust and dealing with people or businesses that you have never dealt with, or met before. A referral is given because you trust your fellow member and you may even have used their services yourself. Most clients will choose a business that is recommended to them over one that approaches them cold.

A referral is highly qualified. The member giving the referral has identified a need, has done some groundwork to establish trust and has given the client an implicit recommendation of your quality and reliability. These things alone are normally enough to quickly turn a referral into actual business.

The Mechanics of a Good Referral

  1. Make sure you fill out the referral slip correctly. You would be amazed at how many referral slips are incomplete, have wrong information on them, are too vague or are writing in illegible scrawl. The least you can do is let the person you are giving the referral have the right details
  2. Indicate hot referrals. Getting a hot referral means that the receiver should be on the phone right after the meeting. Business is waiting for them – so they should act fast.
  3. Follow up. We have a referral reality check every week but, if you have given someone a referral ask them how it went. Did they call? Did they have a meeting? Did they get the work? If not, why not? Learn from the process so that you can give better referrals.


Now you know why good referrals are important, how to give them and how to follow them up, think about your performance. Are you passing the right kind of referrals? Do you know how to identify a good referral? Are you doing enough?

Remember the mantra – Givers Gain – give good referrals and you will receive good referrals in return.

Visitors Ahoy!

This week, Bravo are welcoming the following visitors – if you know of anyone who would like to meet them then please invite them along as well.

Geoff Woodger –

Kirsty McWilliam – Langley Apartments