The 3 Things You MUST DO Before Your First Core Group Meeting or else you will SUFFER!
BNI is a proven system and the action plan comes from 20 years of accumulated experience.
Let me stress that THERE ARE NO SHORTCUTS to the process! Many have tried to beat the system only to find the system beating them!
A proven system means that if you follow it, success is guaranteed and starting your chapter will be easy. Stray away from it and starting your new chapter could be a real struggle!
The Guide suggests the number of phone calls for the first core group meeting to make sure that you start the process correctly with at least 15-18 people attending the core group meeting. From experience, you will have to make that many phone call to guarantee that at least close to 30 people say they will attend. And out of those, 30% will NOT turn up to your meeting due to unexpected situations - not waking up on time being the most common.That will leave you with your 15-18 people.
The first core group meeting is important to set the momentum correctly. With more people, the energy and confidence levels will be higher, the meeting more enjoyable and more people will sign up. It is easy then to build up the momentum from the large crowd for subsequent core group meetings. As the Chapter Director, you undertook to help them set up the Chapter and when they sense and have confidence that you able to do it, they will rally around you because it is in their interest for you to succeed!
If you start off with a low turnout and low sign up, then it will be a struggle to build up the momentum. The initial few people would hesitate to commit, as they want to see if the Chapter can really take off. They would not be pro-actively supporting you to build up the momentum as their own confidence level is low. Then starting your Chapter will be a struggle.
So prepare your name list, make the phone calls and make sure that you have a GREAT turnout for our first core group meeting!
(Contact me should you need a sample visitor invitation script. Lai)
2. Have at least 6 people (more if possible) already committed and signed up.
As you are starting your very first BNI Chapter, you will certainly have close friends or business associates that can join BNI and trust you enough to immediately commit even before your first core group meeting.
When I started my first Chapter, it was the very first Chapter in Penang and noone has heard of BNI before. I started in a cold market, but six of my friends trusted me enough to be the pioneer members.
It is important to have these 6 (or more) committed members before the first core group meeting. If you are close to them, you can actually coach them in a pre-core group meeting session. Train them to be your assistants so that during the first core group meeting, they can create the high energy and positive environment, and help the other visitors sign up. Human beings also have herd instincts, when they see lots of people signing up, they too will sign up.
Ideally, these 6 (or more) people would have filled up the form and with their credit card details. Otherwise they can bring their cheques at the first core group meeting. You keep their forms or else they will 100% forget to bring them during the core group meeting. At the meeting, just casually hand the forms back to them and ask them to assist other visitors to fill the form as they had filled up themselves.
3. Follow up your visitors the day before the meeting.
You will have to start inviting your visitors from the week before if you are running Tuesday or Wednesday chapters. As BNI is seen as "business" and weekends seen as "rest days", most business people prefer to be invited during normal working hours from Monday to Fridays. That means that over the weekend, many would have forgotten about your Tuesday or Wednesday meeting.
So first thing on Monday morning, you must call up all your Visitors to remind them about your Tuesday or Wednesday core group meeting. For Tuesday groups, it is very important that you don't leave it till after lunch or worse still Monday evening to call, as it will be too late for your Visitors to re-schedule their appointments if they have genuinely forgotten about your meeting.
The strategy that I normally use, which does not offend the Visitors, and in fact makes them feel appreciated is as follows:
"Good morning Mr. Lim. I am now making the final arrangements for the tomorrow morning's meeting.
Can I confirm with you whether you will be bringing any of your own Guests for the meeting tomorrow?
Okay, that will be fine.
By the way, are you clear on how to get to .........(the venue)......... Just follow .......... The best place to park your car is actually ............
Remember to bring plenty of cards and I will see you at 7am tomorrow at .........(the venue).........
See you then!"
We may be tempted to shortcut this process by using sms.
From experience, sms does not get the same level of attendance, especially with junk sms being common nowadays. BNI is all about building relationships, and nothing can beat the warmth of your voice through the traditional phone call!