Wednesday, September 4, 2019


This time of year the new incoming Leadership Team is getting prepared to take on their new positions as of October 1st.  There is BNI University online training as well as their attendance at one of the BNI Regional Summits.

So what does it mean to be a leader in BNI?  It means that the member has made the decision to step up and serve his or her chapter beyond that of just being a member.  This gives the member an opportunity to build their credibility within their chapter as well as the BNI community.  Often times members who make this commitment are tenured members, but then again it can be a newer member who is looking to be more involved.  Either way, BNI provides the training, mentoring, and guidance for each member to learn what they need to carry out their role and responsibilities successfully.

One of the most valued aspect of BNI is the training that is provided.  In Podcast #214, Dr. Misner asks the question, 'Would you want to fly in a plane with a person who had not been to pilot training?'  Yes, I realize that BNI training is not quite as critical as a pilot's training, however we do want our leaders trained in the best practices of their position.  

Many times I hear, well I've been with BNI for a number of years, why do I have to go thru this training?  Because things change.  BNI is always working to improve and to provide better ways of doing things.  And BNI wants everyone to be the best at their position as possible and for them to know what resources they have at their disposable to do their jobs successfully.  After all, most people are expected to take additional training in his/her given business to stay up to date with their field.  

The Leaders in a BNI Chapter set the tone and the pace of the Chapter.  If they are positive and working towards the good and goals of the chapter, then the members also want to be a part of that.  Speaking of Goals, now is the time the Leadership Team set the Goals for their upcoming term.  Where do you want to see your chapter a year from now?  What do you want your legacy to be?  How do you plan to achieve your goals?  Success just doesn't happen by accident, it takes creating a vision, establishing goals, and creating activities (mechanisms) to achieve those goals.

Keys to a Successful Year in Leadership:

1. Get Everyone on the Team Trained - Online and Live Summit
2.  Create a Chapter Vision and Set Chapter Goals
3.  Set Expectations - Share the Vision and Goals with Chapter
4.  Track Progress and adjust as needed
5.  Provide ongoing Recognition and Celebrate Success

Your Support Team is here to help you, i.e. Your Director Consultant, Area Director, Senior Director, and Executive Directors.  If you or your chapter need help or have questions, reach out.

To Your Success,

Thursday, August 8, 2019

Building Credibility - Using Substitutes Effectively

During the summer months there tends to be more substitutes than normal at BNI meetings.  How can we build credibility when we need to have a sub?

The original intent of the sub program was to have someone to represent the member when they could not be at the weekly meeting, i.e. vacation, corporate conference, etc.  Interestingly, it was never Dr. Misner's intent for substitutes to be able to give their own infomercial presentations. When the same substitute attends frequently and talks about his or her own business, it's good for the individual, but not for the chapter.  As important as substitutes are to a membership, I think it is also important to understand the effective use of the substitute program. Your sub is a reflection of you and you want to position your substitute to maximize your credibility as a member of the chapter.  

There are some real positive uses of the substitutes, one of which is bringing in fresh faces rather than the same person coming for a member again and again.  From the very beginning, the sub was there to represent you, not just to fill a void. So if you are just trying to fill a void you are missing the point of the whole substitute program. It has to be somebody who is there to represent you and support you and also be of value to the chapter.

Here are some suggestions:

1. Ask a good client to sub for you.  Instead of giving your client a written infomercial, ask them to give a testimonial about the work you've done for them.  When you have a sub there who really hits the nail on the head and talks about you and how good you are at what you do or how good your products or services are, that is almost better than you talking about yourself.

2. Ask someone who might be a potential member. Perhaps someone you've asked or wanted to ask to attend your BNI meeting.  This gives another opportunity to see what BNI is all about and may encourage them to become a member.

3. Try to use a different sub each time, rather than the same person from your office each time.  By bringing in fresh faces each time, you're bringing potential business to your fellow members.  Remember visitors/subs to your chapter typically brings $1000 to $1500 worth of business to the chapter and your fellow members.  So it is potential TYFCB to you.  This builds your credibility with your fellow BNI members.

4.  Carefully choose who you are going to use as your substitute and train them about the meeting, what to expect.  When they are to give your infomercial.  When they will give their infomercial.  When they will give your referrals, testimonial, etc.  

5.  Plan ahead. Make a personal sub list of several people who would be willing to sub for you and represent you well.  Ask them ahead of time if they would be willing to sub for you when the need arises.

Other thoughts and considerations -  

As a member, you bring value to your chapter meeting. When you are absent, you bring negative value. When seeking a substitute, strive to replace your value with a positive professional who could potentially become a part of your referral network. They may be willing to help you out by substituting for you, and they will have the opportunity to see the value of BNI® for themselves. An excellent substitute may also be someone who may bring referrals to the other members or a client/customer whom would provide a positive testimonial about your products and services. 

Some Chapters mistakenly believe that having a list of willing Members and ex-Members from other Chapters is a good way to solve the “substitute problem.” In reality, while it undoubtedly appears easier for Members if they don’t have to find a substitute for themselves, in the long run, they, and everyone else in the Chapter, will get less business. 

Every substitute should be a potential customer for other Members in the Chapter. This is an important entitlement of BNI Members, which is lost when the same few faces turn up every week, representing a different Member’s business on each occasion. More importantly, while many genuine substitutes become interested in joining the Chapter they visit, “professional” substitutes never do because they realize they are getting a free membership in your Chapter. Not only do the Members pay for their membership, they also ascribe to the BNI Code of Ethics and the BNI Policies. Substitutes are not held accountable for their professionalism. 

Chapters are stronger, grow more quickly, and pass more business when they discourage regular substitute lists and encourage all Members to find their own substitute when necessary. 

To discourage repeat substitutes, it is strongly suggested that repeat substitutes do not give a Weekly Presentation on their business and only represent the Member’s business. 

Excellence is an option with a BNI chapter and with the substitute program, but you have to use substitutes in the proper way and not use them as a crutch. Instead, use them as a benefit to what you have to offer.  If you expect the best, you tend to get it. If you expect less than the best, you tend to get it.  You have to have high expectations and invite people in to support you.  By effectively using the substitute program you are building your credibility with your fellow members which will lead to more referrals and profitability. That is what makes the most successful members and the most successful chapters.

Sunday, July 7, 2019

What did I sign up for?

From July 2019

Why did you sign up to be a part of BNI?  Different people have different reasons.  Some are looking for more business, more referrals.  Some are looking to build relationships and meet referral partners.  Some are looking for training to become a better business person.

Those are all great reasons, but none of this comes overnight.  It takes time and for some it takes more time than others.  It's more of a marathon than a sprint.

Last Thursday I participated in my 6th Peachtree Road Race.  Each year has been a different race.  The first year it was cool.  There were people sitting along Peachtree Street wrapped in blankets.  One year it was raining and they flagged some of the late corrals and stopped the runners for awhile because of lightning.  The other years, it's been a typical Peachtree Road Race - hot and humid - with this being the hottest on record.  By the time we crossed the finish line it was at a red alert.

And why am I telling you this?  As we were heading up Peachtree getting ready to make the turn to head towards the finish line and Piedmont Park I saw a man holding up a sign similar to the one above, it did make me smile.  This year was a hard one.  First because it was so hot and humid and I had not quite trained as hard as I had in past years.  And instead of doing my run/walk intervals, we walked the majority of the course.  You would think that by walking, it would have been easier, but my legs are still screaming with soreness.  I'm still questioning why I'm so sore.  Was it the conditions, my lack of training, or because I walked instead of run/walk?  I think it was that I did something different than what I trained for.  I trained to run/walk, but walked the majority of the time, thus using different muscles.  I finished standing up and for that I am grateful.

Again what does this have to do with BNI?  Over the last couple of days, as I've thought about what topic to write about, that sign keeps coming to mind.  As I've been on Facebook and saw many of my friends and of the many BNI members I know post their photos of the Peachtree, it brought to mind the relationships I have with these individuals and their commitment to most everything they do.  They signed up and paid their money to participate in the Peachtree Road Race.  They trained.  They participated.  They crossed the finish line and they got the T-Shirt.  Because the Peachtree Road Race is the only race where you don't get the T-Shirt until after the race.  They committed and they accomplished their goal.  Isn't that what BNI is all about?  You don't get the results until you do the work required?

I believe BNI is a lot like the Peachtree Road Race, in that you're not going to reach the goal you want to achieve and get the t-shirt, unless you make the time and commitment to put forth the effort to do what it takes.  It takes the commitment of making the time to do the activities, i.e. training, one to ones, meetings, etc.  And it's also about putting forth the effort to not just do the activities, but to learn to do the activities effectively.  It is true, what you put in, you get out.  

So what did you sign up for?  To immediately start getting referrals and business?  Without putting in the time and training?  Like going from the couch to a 10K, it's not likely there will be a good finish.  And even if we did the initial training, we have to keep training and sometimes do different training to keep up with the times and the conditions.  Like, if I'm going to walk the course in 90 degree heat and humidity, then that's the way I have to train.  BNI is the same.  In order to stay competitive and up to date, we have to learn new ways of doing things if we want better results.

I'm the type of person that it takes me a while to make a decision and make the commitment, especially when it comes to putting my hard earned cash down.  But once I do, I'm all in.  I'm going to set a goal and do my best to learn what I need to learn to do what I need to do to recoup my investment.  So if you paid to do this, what are you doing to get the most value from your investment?

Here are some of those people who made the commitment, did the training, and got the T-Shirt for the 50th running of the Peachtree Road Race. If you were one of them, please let us know.


Karren Amidon - Record Busters 
Jeff Cavender - BAG 
Rodney Davis - BLAZE 
Susan Geaslen - Success Alliance 
Tracy Jardine - Success Alliance 
Annette Mason - BNI Director

Happy Networking,

Annette Mason
Area Director Consultant
Please let me know of other topics you would like to know about that I can add to future newsletters. 

Excellence or Mediocrity

From May 2019

So what is the difference between excellence and mediocrity?  Excellence is passion, commitment, midnight oil, and elbow grease.  Excellence doesn't come easy.  Mediocrity is getting by.  Excellence is about striving to be the best. Mediocrity is about performing the minimum requirements. Excellence is about going the extra mile.

Midnight Oil 

Excellence can't be achieved by doing the minimum requirements.  We receive what we give.  The dreamers and the doers who change the world put in extra hours thinking, planning, and working towards their goals.  It is believed that those who think, dream, and reflect on their actions are the ones working towards excellence.  Rather than just taking whatever is thrown their way and settling for the average.  

Yes, average tends to be easy while excellence is somewhat hard.

Mediocrity is performing the minimum requirements. Excellence is going above and beyond what is required sometimes in unexpected ways.

A life of excellence can't be achieved in an 8-to-5 window. This isn't a call to workaholism, but rather a challenge to realize that dreamers and doers who change the world put in extra hours thinking, planning, and working toward their goals. Our minds and bodies obviously need an appropriate amount of rest, but our spirits need time to cultivate a vision for excellence.

Practice makes perfect, right? Maybe close. The point is, people who do things well have usually spent a lot of time doing those things poorly, learning, and improving. This takes time. It takes years. Excellence is only possible when we're willing to transition from dreaming to doing. We have to be willing to devote time, energy, and resources toward our big goals.

Every day is a brand new chance to decide to reject passivity and mediocrity and choose intentionality and excellence. So which do you choose, mediocrity or excellence?  What do you expect from your team?  From yourself?

Remember the phrase - 'If it's to be, it's up to me.'  Sometimes if things aren't going the way we think they should, it's time to take a proactive approach and step up and take action.  Perhaps taking on a Leadership role to make a difference.  'Be the change you want to see in the world' or in your BNI chapter.  Instead of settling, strive for the best results.

Remember the story about the Little Red Hen.  Everyone wanted to eat, but no one wanted to do the work.  

What are some things you have tried/changed?  What was your experience?

Trying Something New

From April 2019

 I am a creature of habit, I'll admit, and I am not a fan of change. As I started out for my run on Saturday, I couldn't go my usual way. We live on a street that circles around and blends into the main street for the neighborhood. I couldn't go my usual way because my neighbor had the road blocked with his truck and trailer. So rather than waiting for him to clear the road, I decided to just go the other way. Gosh, did that feel strange. Although this is the same road, it just seemed so different to go the other way. It took getting back on the regular route before I felt comfortable again. Although I was doing the same thing, my walk/run routine, just starting out in a different direction made it seem so strange.

Have you ever started something new? Or tried doing something a different way? Did it feel uncomfortable to start with? Did you continue with the new way or revert back to the same old way you've always done things?

This makes me think of all those motivational seminars I've been to and the speaker asking you to fold your arms a certain way that was comfortable and then asking you to fold them a different way. The different way was not uncomfortable per se, it just felt different. That's kind of how it is when we want something to change, but we want it to be comfortable. Or we want to change, and we want to get it right the first time, so that the process or the new thing will be easy. Nope, it just doesn't work that way usually. Typically, when 
we try or attempt to do something new, it's going to feel uncomfortable and/or at least different until we get used to it. Until we train it to muscle memory and make it a habit.

So how can we make change more comfortable? How can we establish the habits/routines we need to make? Here are my thoughts.....

-        I think one of the first ways is, we have to commit to the change. Sometimes that means doing some research, reading some articles, watching some videos, talking to people, etc. to see how other people are doing the thing we want to do. Learning what has worked for others and figuring out what we feel will work best for us. However, while research is a good thing to do, some people suffer from analysis paralysis in that they can't start anything new until they've done all the research in the world and have everything down to a science before they start. These are the folks that will give you every excuse there is for why they can't or won't start something new.
- Secondly, I think we have to commit to a start date. Most people start new things at the beginning of a new year - by making their new year's resolutions. Some start on a Monday. The point is, you must decide and start and also commit to give the change time. Most say it takes doing something 40 times or 40 days to commit it to habit.

-        Third - Realize we're not going to be perfect the first couple of times we try our new thing. We are going to stumble and mumble, but that's OK, as we learn to do the thing the correct way. Think in terms of a ball player practicing their craft. They spend hours swinging a bat or throwing a ball in order to get better and better. We will get better the more we do the thing.

-        Fourth - Track our progress. How are we going to get better if we don't have some sort of measurement? Progress is progress regardless of how small. How do we eat an elephant? One small bite at a time.
Fifth - Critique, adjust, and stay on track and if we get off track, even starting over. Ask for help. If it's important enough to us, we'll keep on keeping on in order to make the positive changes and develop the positive habits we want to make in our lives.

Often, we are presented with new ways of doing things, i.e. new concepts, new ideas, new procedures, etc. While we hear that others may have tried the new thing and had success, we resist and give reasons as to why we don't think it will work. The 'if it ain't broke, don't fix it' mentality. Yes, I'm guilty and must rationalize as to why it would be beneficial to give the new way a try. Kind of like my scenario of doing my running routine in a different direction. It felt a little strange, but sometimes a change adds new life and vitality to a regular routine. Perhaps doing the same routine a different way will net better results.

Do you remember Mikey? 'Try it, you'll like it.' If we never try it, how do we know if the new way will work better or not?'

What are some things you have tried/changed?  What was your experience?

Getting More Referrals - Having Effective One to Ones

From March 2019

 The purpose of having One to Ones is get to know your fellow members in order to build relationships which build credibility and lead to profitability, i.e. to give and receive more referrals.  Statistics show that members who are having 3 or more one to ones per month receive twice as many referrals.

So where are you with your fellow members?  

Visibility - I remember you and I may know your name and what you do.

Credibility - There are two parts of Credibility
- Early Credibility - I know more about you and I like you
- Deep Credibility - I trust you and I may pass referrals to you. 

- Profitability - I refer you consistently because I trust you and know your business so well.  When I win a client, you win a client.
So how do we move the relationships with fellow members from Visibility to Profitability?  By having more effective One to Ones. i.e. Getting to know your fellow chapter members at a deeper level, getting to know more about their business, what good referrals are for them, and who are good referrals partners are for them.  So how do you do that?

Most One to Ones are more 'coffee talks' and are not effective one to ones.  

An effective One to One takes planning.  Here are the steps:

1.  Schedule ahead of time allowing at least an hour especially for the first One to One.
2. Start first with the members who are in your contact sphere because 70% of your referrals will come from your contact sphere.
3.  Complete the GAINS profile sheets.  This step is extremely important.  (GAINS stands for Goals, Accomplishments, Interests, Networks, Skills)
a. The GAINS profile sheets include a list of your last 10 clients. The sheet has areas for notes about one. All of this information helps your fellow member understand the type of work you do. Rank your last ten clients on a scale of 1 to 10 (#1 being the best) according to good, better, best. Make notes as to why the top 5 are the type of clients you're looking for. Share this list as it will help your fellow members understand the type of clients you are seeking. Even letting your fellow member know what are NOT good referrals is good information.
b. Also, part of the GAINS profile sheets is Contact Spheres. Contact Spheres are businesses or professionals that provide a source of referrals for one another. They are good Referral Partners/Sources. For example: A good referral source for a chiropractor would be a Personal Injury Attorney. A good referral source for a pressure washer would be a painter. A good referral source for a home inspector would be a Realtor. Don't just think of who you can get business from, but who can refer business to you. Share this list also. (You can also use the Referral Hub for this). Many times an introduction to a Referral source will lead to a referral that just keeps on giving. And guess who gets the credit for TYFCB.
4. Send your completed GAINS profile sheets and your bio to the person you have a One to One scheduled with.  Send these a couple of days ahead of time to give each other time to review and make notes for questions, discussion points, etc. you would like to have.
5. Plan to meet at a location that is not loud and you won't be interrupted.  Meeting at a fellow member's office/work is always good.
6. Time for a One to One - Typically a good One to One can be done in an hour.  This gives each member 30 minutes to explain their business and answer questions.  Please be considerate and don't monopolize the time.
THE PURPOSE of a One to One is to learn about the other person's business so that You can identify and find referrals and referral sources for them.  
IT IS NOT to try and sell them your product or service. Your fellow referral partners will be turned off by this tactic. By asking who do they know who would be interested in your product or service, they may refer themselves. But NEVER try to SELL to your fellow BNI Members. You will receive 0 to no referrals by doing so.
8. Questions to ask: (Remember you are there to find out how to refer business, find referral sources for this person, and to strategize as to who else you need to invite to be part of your referral team, so ask questions that will help you understand who to look for.)
  1. From your review of the other member's GAINS profile, you may have questions for clarification.
  2. Ask what you should listen for?
  3. Ask what questions you should ask a potential prospective client for them?
  4. What are good conversation starters?
  5. Ask who are their 'bread and butter' clients?
  6. Ask what would be their dream referral?
  7. Who are good referral sources?
  8. Who else would they want as a member of their Power Team?
9. Agree on a plan of action. For example, that could be an introduction to a potential referral partner and/or inviting a potential referral partner to your BNI meeting for an introduction.
10.  Schedule a time to follow-up and your next One to One.  Things change in a person's life and business.  It's good to have One to One's with your fellow members on a regular basis to get to know your referral partners better and to strengthen the relationship, especially your Power Team members as well as find out what's new with their business.

Rolling Out the Red Carpet

From February 2019
How was your first experience with BNI?
Did you feel welcomed?

In last month's newsletter we talked about the Value of a Visitor.  Inviting Visitors is part of the 'Givers Gain' philosophy of BNI.  It is a way to give to your fellow BNI members.  Your fellow members offer products and services that visitors may be looking for.  So by inviting visitors, you are bringing potential referrals to your fellow members.

So how was your first visit to BNI?  
Did you feel welcomed? 

BNI Chapters have a whole process to help ensure Visitors feel welcome.  

Here are the steps that are recommended to ensure every visitor gets the red carpet treatment:

  • When a visitor registers to attend, they receive an email from BNI, thanking them for registering.
  • Another email is sent to the Chapter Leadership Team and to the Visitor Hosts to alert them that they have Visitors registered to attend the upcoming meeting.
  • The best practice is for the Visitor to receive a phone call from the president or designated Visitor Host to find out a little bit about the Visitor so that they may make the right introductions to their prospective referral partners at the meeting.
  • The member who invited the Visitor, also follows up with the Visitor the day before to ensure they know the time and location of the meeting.
  • Followed by the phone call, an email with the directions and other information the Visitor needs to know, is also suggested to be sent by a Visitor host.
  • The Visitor Host prepares the Visitor name badges the night before thus letting the Visitor know when they arrive, that they were expected.
  • The morning of the meeting, the member who invited the Visitor needs to arrive early to greet their Visitor.  
  • The morning of the meeting, the Visitor Hosts arrive early to set up the Visitor registration table with all necessary material so that all the Visitors feel welcome.
  • A Visitor hosts meets and welcomes the Visitors, helps them get signed in, and introduces them to someone in their contact sphere.
  • (Great Chapters train their members, that ALL members are Visitor Hosts and they fill in and help out wherever it's needed.  After all, Visitors are potential business for all members.).
  •  The Visitor is given a Visitor Information packet, i.e. BNI brochure, agenda, Chapter Member information/roster, etc.
  • During the meeting, the member who invited the member, sits with their Visitor and answers questions and helps them through the agenda.  If there are any orphaned Visitors, a Visitor Host sits with them.  A Visitor should never be left alone.
  • After the meeting, Visitor Orientation is held and the Visitors are given information about the benefits of BNI membership.  
  • The Visitor Hosts helps the Visitors who have questions and assist those ready to complete an application.
  • After the meeting, the Visitor Host follows up with the Visitors with a phone call, thanking them for attending and answers any questions they may have.
  • The member who invited the Visitor should also follow up with their Visitor.
  • Power Team members of the Visitor should follow up with the Visitor.  This could be the start of a referral partner relationship even if the Visitor doesn't join the chapter.
  • The Visitor's information is verified in the system and their attendance is marked, so that they will become part of the BNI engagement process and receive periodic emails.
  • It is recommended that Chapters keep in touch with past Visitors.  They are great resources for subs.  They may be able to fill open seats should they become available.  Invite them back for a second visit and/or for Focused Visitor Days, i.e. for a featured speaker, stack days, Power Team Days, etc.
Visitors who feel welcomed are more apt to do business with the Chapter members and quite possibly consider membership.  It's important to help them feel welcome from the time they register, at the meeting, after the meeting, and beyond.  They are potential sources of business whether they become members of not.  


This time of year the new incoming Leadership Team is getting prepared to take on their new positions as of October 1st.  There is BNI ...