Many of our chapters have set goals for inviting visitors. For example, “over the next six months we need to focus on bringing in 1 visitor per member per month.”
This is very important to do, since BNI statistics show that solid chapter growth generally occurs when there are 2 or more visitors at the meeting each week.
What is the best way to invite visitors?
When you meet someone who seems like they would be a good fit for your chapter, don’t overwhelm them with too many details all at once. You’re not trying to get them to join BNI, you’re trying to get them to attend a meeting. Once they are actually at the meeting, the atmosphere and concept will either appeal to them or it won’t.
What should you say?
A recommendation from Jeff Stay, the director for BNI Miami Dade is to say this very simple line:
“John (insert the real name of the person you are inviting), I am working with a group of local business people who are looking for a plumber (insert the profession of the person you are inviting) to give their business to. Would you like to come and meet some of my colleagues?”
“I’d like to invite you to my weekly breakfast meeting next week — you might get to meet potential customers and learn something.”
You could mention a specific member of your chapter that you would like the visitor to meet, based on what you know about their business. You could even introduce the two by phone or email before the meeting and explain why you’re eager for the two of them to meet.
Persistence is important. If your prospect doesn’t come to a meeting right away, keep issuing invitations, unless he or she clearly states that they aren’t interested.
What not to say
There are certain words or phrases that you shouldn’t use in your invitation, until you are asked. They tend to send up red flags that will prevent your prospect from hearing the rest of what you have to say:
- 7:00 AM
- Weekly Meetings
- Networking – usually associated with MLM
- JOIN – again, you are not getting them to join, you’re asking them to attend
- Meeting Agenda – just get them to come, they do not have to understand the structure beforehand; they will see it for themselves.
Dealing with Objections
When these things come up, briefly explain why you see them as benefits rather than drawbacks:
The meeting starts at what time?
Yes, it can be hard to get up early for a 7am meeting. On the other hand,
- You beat the morning rush hour
- You can be out of the meeting and on your way to work by 8:30
- You start one day of the week off with a high-energy experience
There’s an attendance requirement?
Some people are concerned about attending a meeting each and every week. Don’t play this down, because it is a reality. Rather, explain why it is important enough to make it part of your routine: Visibility is essential to building credibility. Credibility will lead to getting referrals (i.e. business!). If your prospect is overly hung up on the attendance requirement, or has a legitimate reason why it will be tough for them, they probably would not be a very good fit for your group
Some people, though, just assume that a weekly meeting will feel like a burden. Get these people to the meeting. Then, if they still don’t get why it’s important, cross them off your list.
How will I bring so many referrals?
Some people fear not being able to bring enough referrals. Again, don’t play down the importance of bringing referrals, because that is why we are here. You want to explain, though, that referrals will come naturally when they get to know the other people in the chapter. The members will tell them how to refer them.
Also, when they bring a visitor to a meeting, this counts as a referral, because now that person can become a referral or give a referral, even if they never join.