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!