Wednesday, September 16, 2020

Leaky Bucket, Pilots, and Leadership Teams


So, what on earth does a leaky bucket, pilots, and Leadership Teams have in common you ask.  Here is a short video by Dr. Miser who explains - 

In the video, Dr. Misner talks about the Leaky Bucket theory of education and training.  I relate it to the game 'Telephone.'  Have you ever played that game?  Where you tell one person something and they, in turn, tell the next person and it goes through about 5 or 6 people and the story that the last person conveys is nowhere close to the original story.  That's why BNI has yearly as well as on-going training.  For one, things change.  Two, it is to ensure that everyone on the Leadership Team is doing all their duties and nothing is slipping through the cracks.  The 'leaky bucket happens when information/training is passed down from one Leadership Team to the next and some important key elements get left out.  Maybe not intentionally, but it happens.  

"As a leader, you can never stop investing in your own growth. There will never come a day when you know enough, have experienced enough, or have seen enough to get you through the challenges every leader faces."  ~ John Maxwell

Don't you want to be part of a team that is well trained and a high performing team?  Your Leadership Team is the pilot, co-pilot, navigation team, etc. for your chapter.  You depend on them to lead you in the right direction, therefore you want them to be trained and taught the right way to do things.  I wouldn't think, as a business person, you would want to be lead or coached by someone who was not trained in their position.  And BNI tenure is not a replacement for Leadership Training.  One of the Core Values in BNI besides Life Long Learning is Traditions and Innovation.  Things change and it's important that BNI Leadership Teams keep up with the changes and learn new and better ways of doing things.

There is one more Leadership Summit, Wednesday, Sept. 23rd.  Click here to register to attend.

Chapter Members also depend on their Leadership Team to set the Vision, Mission, and Goals for their Chapter.  Every business has these and your BNI Chapter should be no different.  The Vision, Mission, Goals, and Mechanisms are what keeps a BNI Chapter moving forward.  It's the roadmap to help chapter members get more referrals, get more revenue, and grow their business.  Does your chapter have a vision, mission, and goals?  Are they announced periodically at your meeting and compared to the actuals?  Ask your Leadership Team what your Chapter's Goals are.  


Why is all of this important?  For a BNI Chapter to be successful it needs a well trained motivated Leadership Team with a clear vision, mission, goals, and mechanisms.  It doesn't matter if you're meeting in person or on Zoom, the basics of BNI are still the same.  And if the basic principles of BNI are implemented and followed, you will have successful members as well as a successful chapter.

If you or your chapter need help and support, reach out to your Support Director.

To Your Success,

Annette Mason
Area Director Consultant

In Order to Grow We Must Retain

Years ago when I first became a sales rep I was presented with this statistic - 'By retaining 5% of your customers you can double your income.'  I didn't understand the math behind this, or that acquiring a new customer is anywhere from five to 25 times more expensive and time-consuming than retaining an existing one. Now, many years later, it makes sense: you don't have to spend time and resources going out and finding a new client - you just have to keep the ones you have happy.  And by increasing customer retention rates by 5% increases profits by 25% to 95%.  Another important factor to these numbers is, if we create raving fans of the customers we keep, they will not only keep doing business with us but will refer new business to us.

So in thinking about these statistics, doesn't it also apply to BNI members?  If we want to grow, we must retain and keep the members we have.  Chapters spend a lot of time inviting, growing the chapter, getting new members, training new members, etc.  What if we spent an equal amount of time on retaining the members we have and make them raving fans of BNI.

I just completed reading the book, Retention Point, which by the way, is available on BNI University.  I recommend every member concerned with growing their chapter, especially Presidents, Community Builders, Mentor Coordinators, Mentors, Growth Coordinators, etc. to read this book.  It's a short quick read but packed with 'food for thought' in regards to retaining customers/members.

Every chapter typically has a goal to increase its chapter size.  Why?  Because we continuously provide statistics that show that more members equal more referrals.  Typically when a chapter doubles in size, the referrals triple.

Also, we have discussed that creating more balanced Contact Spheres will help with retention because most members receive 75% of their referrals from their Contact Spheres.  

Do you know what your Chapter's current retention percentage is?  It is part of your monthly Traffic Light score.  You can look it up on BNIConnect or you can ask for VP.  Of the chapters that I support, the average retention is 60% while the average retention for the NW region is 65%.  My BHAG for my chapters is 85% retention BTW.

So if your chapter has a goal to increase the number of members in the chapter, why not also add increasing the chapter's retention rate.  When you set the chapter's next six month's goals and mechanisms, I would like to challenge you to also add increasing the chapter's retention rate.

What are some things a chapter can do to retain its members?

One of the things that were mentioned in the book 'Retention Point,' is the author says that you're not successful with a new membership until the member renews.  If that's the case, then the first year is critical to member retention.  Statistics show that if a BNI member renews after the first year, they will stay a BNI member on average for 5 years.  So, wouldn't you agree that a crucial element for member retention is the on-boarding of new members?  

Key Elements of On-boarding - 
Getting a new member up to speed and producing takes a lot of time and work, but by investing the effort in new members, produces a successful member which equals a happy member who will gladly renew and be a raving fan of BNI.

Other Key Factors to Retaining members:
  • Mentor - Teach members how to be successful.  Never assume they know what and how to be a good BNI member.  Assign them a mentor that will 'hold their hand' and teach them how and what to do to be successful.  Each new member is different.  Each learns in a different way and at a different pace.  Take this into consideration when assigning them a mentor.

  • Recognition - One of the Core Values of BNI.  Celebrating the success of members. This is key in the beginning for a new member.  Recognize them for completing MSP and the Passport Program.  Celebrate the first time they achieve Green on the Power of One report, etc.

  • Balance -  Work to balance the Chapter's Contact Spheres which will help members give and receive more referrals therefore increase their revenue and give them the value of their membership.
  • Engagement - Have the current members reach out to the new members for One to Ones, especially the Passport Member Mentors.  Also, get new members involved.  One of the best practices of chapters is that everyone is responsible for a job within their chapter.  Many hands make light work, but also it gives members a sense of belonging and being part of the Team.
  • Accountability - Most people become part of BNI because they want to be part of a successful system.  Part of what makes BNI successful is accountability.  New members need to understand expectations and how certain recommended activities will help them be successful.  This starts when the President meets with the new member for their New Member Orientation and continues as they meet regularly with their Mentor.
Hopefully, this article helps in understanding why retaining members is equally as important as bringing in new members. In order to grow, Chapters must retain existing members.  If you need help with Growth and Retention or any other area, contact your Support Director.  They would be happy to help.  That's their job, to help and support you and help your chapter grow and be successful.
To Your Success,

Annette Mason
Area Director Consultant

Wednesday, July 8, 2020

Teamwork Makes the Dream Work

Attributes of High Functioning Teams

This is a long one, but I found it to be interesting in understanding how teams and especially how high performing teams come together and why retention is so important.  Why?  Because it take a while for people to build the relationships and trust to work with others to get to that high performance level.

"None of us is as smart as all of us." quote by Ken Blanchard.  This sums up perfectly effective, high-performing teams.  There are few things more energizing than being part of an incredible team - one that works seamlessly together, challenges each other to think in new and creative ways, and delivers fantastic results.

Research shows high-performing teams are happier, more engaged, and help drive business results.

From a study done with Fortune 500 companies, here are 10 Attributes of high performing Teams.

  1. Clear and aligned purpose.  Everyone understands the vision, purpose, and goals, and is focused on achieving them.
  2. Clear roles and responsibilities.  We each know how to contribute to those goals, and understand how all of our pieces fit together.  We leverage our individual strengths to achieve our goals.
  3. Build trust through relationships.  We know and care for each other. We show empathy and compassion. We act in the best interest of the team/the company/the work. We hold and trust each other to be accountable.
  4. Communicate frequently and effectively.  We keep each other informed, share information, provide updates, provide context, and let each other know if something has changed. We've also figured out the best channels of communication for our team, i.e. when to have a meeting, IM or email.
  5. Collaborate often.  We truly believe in the power of group genius, leverage each other's strengths, and partner effectively - all with the larger goals and purpose in mind. We give each other feedback with the intention of helping each other show up at our best, and be successful together.  
  6. Appreciate & encourage diverse thinking.  We see different perspectives and opinions as an opportunity for new ways of thinking and eliciting new ideas. Different opinions help us expand our thinking, develop a wider array of solutions/ideas, learn and improve our output.
  7. Manage conflict constructively.  We don't always agree, but we can talk to each other when that happens. We view conflict as an opportunity to learn.
  8. Learn and adapt.  We enjoy exploring new ideas, we're curious, ask questions, and challenge each other's thinking. We're able to try, fail, learn, adapt, and adjust our course as we bring in new information.
  9. Celebrate success and show appreciation.  We congratulate and thank each other for the great work people are doing.  We also show appreciation for the individual people on the team.
  10. Measure outcomes and success.  We can tie back our work to our purpose and goals in a way that allows us to feel, see, and understand the broader impact we make.
How does your chapter measure up to these attributes?  It takes a while for a team to reach the high performing stage.  Actually there are 5 stages of development of a high performance team.  Read on to see where your chapter may be.

  • Forming - The forming stage involves a period of orientation and getting acquainted. Uncertainty is high during this stage, and people are looking for leadership and authority. A member who asserts authority or is knowledgeable may be looked to take control. Team members are asking such questions as "What does the team offer me?" "What is expected of me?" "Will I fit in?" Most interactions are social as members get to know each other.
  • Storming Stage - The storming stage is the most difficult and critical stage to pass through. It is a period marked by conflict and competition as individual personalities emerge. Team performance may actually decrease in this stage because energy is put into unproductive activities. Members may disagree on team goals, and subgroups and cliques may form around strong personalities or areas of agreement. To get through this stage, members must work to overcome obstacles, to accept individual differences, and to work through conflicting ideas on team tasks and goals. Teams can get bogged down in this stage. Failure to address conflicts may result in long-term problems. 
  • Norming Stage* - If teams get through the storming stage, conflict is resolved and some degree of unity emerges. In the norming stage, a consensus develops around who the leader or leaders are, and individual member's roles. Interpersonal differences begin to be resolved, and a sense of cohesion and unity emerges. Team performance increases during this stage as members learn to cooperate and begin to focus on team goals. However, the harmony is precarious, and if disagreements re-emerge the team can slide back into storming.
  • Performing Stage - In the performing stage, consensus and cooperation have been well-established and the team is mature, organized, and well-functioning. There is a clear and stable structure, and members are committed to the team's mission. Problems and conflicts still emerge, but they are dealt with constructively. The team is focused on problem-solving and meeting team goals.
  • Adjourning Stage - In the adjourning stage, most of the team's goals have been accomplished. The emphasis is on wrapping up final tasks and documenting the effort and results. As the workload is diminished, individual members may be reassigned to other teams, and the team disbands. There may be regret as the team ends, so a ceremonial acknowledgment of the work and success of the team can be helpful. If the team is a standing committee with ongoing responsibility, members may be replaced by new people, and the team can go back to a forming or storming stage and repeat the development process. (This can be related to BNI's Leadership Transition).
*Team Norms and Cohesiveness - Teams usually develop norms that guide the activities of team members. Team norms set a standard for behavior, attitude, and performance that all team members are expected to follow. Norms are like rules but they are not written down.  Instead, all the team members implicitly understand them. Norms are effective because team members want to support the team and preserve relationships in the team, and when norms are violated, there is peer pressure or sanctions to enforce compliance.

Norms result from the interaction of team members during the development process. Initially, during the forming and storming stages, norms focus on expectations for attendance and commitment. Later, during the norming and performing stages, norms focus on relationships and levels of performance. Performance norms are very important because they define the level of work effort and standards that determine the success of the team. As you might expect, leaders play an important part in establishing productive norms by acting as role models and by rewarding desired behaviors.

Norms are only effective in controlling behaviors when they are accepted by team members. The level of cohesiveness on the team primarily determines whether team members accept and conform to norms. Team cohesiveness is the extent that members are attracted to the team and are motivated to remain in the team. Members of highly cohesive teams value their membership, are committed to team activities, and gain satisfaction from team success. They try to conform to norms because they want to maintain their relationships in the team and they want to meet team expectations. Teams with strong performance norms and high cohesiveness are high performing.

Which stage is your chapter in? What are the norms for your chapter?

It's great to be part of a high performance team, but most teams don't 'arrive' or get there easily.  It takes work, a lot of communication, relationship building, and trust. The more a chapter is a high performing team, the better they will work together and everyone wins, gets more referrals, and gain more business.

Do you want/need help in working through becoming a better functioning team?  Contact your Support Director.  They would be happy to help.  That's their job, to help and support you and your chapter - Your Team.
Material from 2 articles - 
Here are some additional resources:

For previous articles refer to my Notably Green Blog.

Let me know if you have any questions and how I can be of help.  
To Your Success,

Friday, June 12, 2020

Are you being Productive or Are You Stalled?

So how are you doing?  How are you surviving in your personal life and with your business?  I ask because I talk to a lot of people and for the most part, most are positive and making things work for them as best they can.  They are finding ways to work and be productive, perhaps differently than before, but making it still the same.  Others are thriving and are hiring because their business has picked up considerably.

I would like to highlight some of the key points for me in this article.
  • The article talked about everything coming to a halt, but yet BNI found a way for us to continue to network.  No, it wasn't what we were used to, but the online meetings have provided BNI members a way to continue to meet with our referral teams and referral partners.  Many chapters increased their members, have had no attrition, and increased their revenue and referrals over this time last year.  The overall revenue for the BNI Atlanta franchise is up over last year's numbers at the same time.  BNI Global YTD revenue is over $6 Billion dollars.  Referrals are still being passed.  Business is still being done.  
  • Ask for and be willing to accept help.  Often times just talking with someone will help us to sort it all out.  No one has all the answers or definitively knows what is best or not.  Many times we have to figure that out for ourselves and hearing someone else's perspective can help.  It's those relationships we've built (perhaps with other BNI members) that can perhaps be our sounding board now.
  • Step back and reflect.  Find some stress relievers.  Take a walk, read a book, watch a movie, etc.  Whatever works for you.  Just do something that will take your mind off the stress.  
  • Be grateful.  Good comes from everything.  Yes, even the tough times.  It may be a learning experience.  One person recently told me that they had just had a baby and that the quarantine had been great for them, because both parents were able to be home.
  • Avoid negative people.  There will be those who there is no talking to.  No reasoning with.  Let them have their pity party and decline their invitation to participate.  Sometimes you can't help the person who is drowning because they have the weight of negativity strapped to them.
  • Take care of you.  Mind, body, and spirit.  Because you can't help anyone else, if you can't take care of yourself.
Crisis times are the best times to re-evaluate the meaning of life. It gives you a hard lesson on what things are really important and what isn't? A reality check. It also brings out the best in you, in every form, but especially as a good human being.

The choice is ours. We can either wallow in self-pity, play the victim card or we can choose to face it, make ourselves stronger and come out more powerful. Let's learn how to stay positive and keep our spirits high during such tough times. All it needs is a different outlook, a different approach. 

For the Leadership Teams, I thank you all for stepping up and being positive through all of this.  On a recent Director call they shared the video of Captain Sullenberger, 'Scully,' landing his plane in the Hudson.  They titled it 'Leadership Under Stress.'  Whilst all of this has been difficult and stressful, you did what you needed to do to lead your team.  And while some of you and your members are very anxious to get back to face to face, please be patient.  As BNI provided us with a way to keep networking, they will provide us with a plan to transition back to face to face that will ensure the safety of our members.

To Your Success,

Annette Mason
Area Director Consultant

Saturday, May 16, 2020

BNI Online and Meeting Etiquette in General

Your BNI online meeting is to be treated the same as your face to face meetings, so consider what you do online should be the same as a face to face meeting.  Remember, you are meeting with your referral partners AKA your sales team.  These are the people you are trying to educate and train on how to find you quality referrals.  These are the same people you are trying to build relationships and creditability with.  These are the people who you want to find you business.  So, give some thought to your actions and whether they are building or hurting your creditability.

Here are a few reminders of policies and expectations –

-        Policy #5 - Attendance is critical to the group. If a member cannot attend, you may send a substitute (not a member of your chapter) to the meeting. This will not count as an absence. A member is allowed three absences over a rolling six month period. More than this and the member’s classification is subject to being opened by the chapter’s Membership Committee.
-        Policy #3 - The weekly meetings lasts for 90 minutes. Members need to arrive on time and stay for the entire meeting.
o   For online meetings, members are expected to be logged on prior to the time their meeting is scheduled to start. 
§  At a normal face to face meeting, typically the first 15 minutes is for open networking, i.e. catching up and chatting with your fellow members.  Build some rapport.  So, if your meeting is scheduled to start at 8:30, then log on a few minutes early to ensure everything is working and network with your fellow members. 
§  Members are expected to be present and focused for the entire meeting, which for a face to face meeting is 1.5 hours.
-        During a BNI meeting, members are expected to be fully present.
o   That email, text, phone call can wait.  You are at your meeting to promote your business and give and receive referrals.
o   The thing about video conferencing is that your video presence tends to be magnified and it will be more obvious to other members that you aren’t paying attention if you constantly appear to be fidgeting, moving around, or gazing elsewhere while someone else is talking. Taking notes on the content discussed during the meeting is fine, but other activities should be kept to a minimum or avoided.
o   Be engaged in the meeting.  Using the chat window to make comments, praise, etc. shows your fellow members you’re paying attention.

-        For online meetings, members are expected to be on video. 
o   Members want to see the other members.
o   Members are expected to be dressed appropriately. 
§  It’s best to match your video call look to how you’d normally look at a face to face meeting or how you dress when you go to your office or meet with a client. 
o   Members want to see the other members engaged and attentive.
o   Members need to see you. 
§  Just like in a Face to Face meeting -  remain focused! 
§  Active Listening is critical. When you speak, do you want people to listen and pay attention to what you have to say?  Then have the same respect for others.
o   Position your camera so that you are well in the frame. 
§  When you speak, look at the camera.
o   Have a pleasing background.  What is behind you?  You want the other members looking at and listening to you, not trying to figure out what’s in the boxes behind you.
§  Many, due to working from home, have had to set up makeshift workspace.  Many have gotten very creative with the video backgrounds, even creating ones with their company logo.
o   Put plenty of light on your face so that we can see you and your awesome smile.
§  Everyone has had several weeks now to get used to being on camera and figuring out the lighting etc.
o   Mute your mic when not speaking.
§  Your microphone amplifies even the slightest noise which can be distracting.
o   Be prepared for your meeting.  Don’t wing it.
§  Again, it’s even more obvious on video than in person
§  The more prepared you are, the more professional you will appear.

People want to do business with and help people they know, like, and trust.  Think about how many people are in your chapter.  Each member knows 250 to 300 people.  Some members who are very well connected know even more.  Your fellow members are the ‘gate keepers’ to their databases.  Building creditability with them will open those doors to those referrals quicker thus you getting to profitability sooner.

Visibility + Credibility = Profitability

In the words of Ralph Waldo Emerson – ‘What you do thunders above your head so loudly, I cannot hear the words you speak.’

Other articles and resources –

Do and Don’t of Video Conferencing -
Building Goodwill and Trust -
Code of Conduct -

Friday, May 8, 2020

Are You a Leader or a Follower?

Being An Effective Follower Can 
Make You A Better Leader

Many years ago during in my career, when I first started interviewing people for sales positions, I was given a list of suggested questions to ask applicants.  One of those questions was, 'Do you consider yourself to be a Leader or a Follower?'  Nine times out of 10, I would first get a puzzled look as they thought of how to answer.  Over the years that question has stuck with me, as it is somewhat of a trick question, and I received a lot of interesting answers.

While contemplating how I was going to explain this concept and searching for graphics to add to this piece, I came across an amazing article that sums up this question.  I invite you to read it - 'From the Balcony.'  It explains it far better than I can.

As we start the process for Leadership Team selections, that question comes to mind.  Why?  Because within a chapter there are many members with different skill sets. To make a chapter successful it takes having the right people with the right skill sets being placed in the position where they can use their skill set to the best advantage.  Moreover, if that person likes what they are doing, they'll do a better job.

I believe for chapters to be successful all members need to do their share, be involved, and contribute beyond just showing up for the meeting each week.  By each member being involved and contributing, many hands make light work and everyone shares in the success of the chapter.

We are all busy, but if we are going to be part of something and want to be part of a successful organization, we have to be more than a name on a membership roster.

I bring this up now because most chapters will be polling their members soon to ask who do they think would be good in which Leadership roles in their Chapter and asking members which roles they feel they would like to be considered for.  If you want to be more involved and see changes made in your Chapter, then step up and ask to be considered.  Where can you put your skillset to good use?
To Your Success,

Sunday, April 5, 2020

Relationships Matter

What You Did and What You Do
Will get You Through
Relationships Matter

Yes, relationships matter now more than ever.  Wow! Things have changed in just a few weeks!  And thanks to BNI for their innovation, we are still able to network, we just have to do it differently.

When thinking about relationships I'm reminded of the story of the Chinese Bamboo Tree  Like the story indicates, it takes time to build strong solid relationships.  The kind of relationships that will withstand and remain during this unprecedented time.  As Dr. Misner indicated in his podcast, we don't need to stop networking, we just need to do it differently.

Even though we can't meet face to face, we still are having our weekly meeting, via bni online.  And we can still and should have one to ones, we just do them virtually.  Checking in and keeping in touch with our referral partners is vital now more than ever.  Here is a good podcast to learn more about having meaningful one to ones.

Here are some other actions you can take at this time to keep your business in the forefront....
  • Complete/Update your BNIConnect profile.  Your profile is public on the internet not just to other BNI members.  Often times in helping people with their marketing, I find that their BNIConnect profile will often come up in a Google search before their website.
  • Complete your GAINS profile which is part of your online profile and share and/or review member's profile prior to having your one to ones.
  • Schedule one to ones with your fellow members even if you've had one with them in the past.  Find out how they are doing personally as well as business. You never know how you can help them or they might could help you.
  • Arrange a meeting with your Contact Sphere and work towards turning it into a Power Team.
  • Reach out to other business owners and invite them to attend your bni online virtual meeting.  Those that perhaps you have invited before might be more receptive now.
  • Have one to ones with other BNI members in other chapters, states, and even in other countries.  
  • 'Visit' another BNI meeting even if your seat is filled, you can 'observe' and see how other chapters are doing at this time.  Could be a chapter near-by or a chapter in another state or cross country.  And for those who have a 'unique' seat that's not filled, you have a great opportunity to share your product or service with other BNI members.
  • Use this time to use BNIUniversity to hone your skills.  Search for articles and courses that will help you be a better networker.
  • And still do your reporting in BNIConnect or the BNI mobile app.
Remember V+C=P - Visibility + Credibility = Profitability.  Everything we do gives us visibility and attributes to our credibility.  When this is over, those who used this time to continue to work on their relationships and studied how to be better at what they do, will be the ones who will have the jump in their given industry.

On one call this past week, someone said if a member can't show up for a Zoom call, then how can I trust they will show up and service a referral given to them even in good times.  Our actions speak volumes.

What else would you add to this list?

I share this photo because it shows how BNI relationships help your business grow the longer you're involved.
Statistics have shown that a member's business will increase by 20% their first year with BNI.

It's said that if a member renews after their first year, they typically stay with BNI 5+ years.

BNI members' business usually increases by 20 to 30% each year they are a member.

As you can see by this photo, this member shows how their business has grown over the course of their membership.

Let me know if you have any questions and how I can be of help.  
To Your Success,

Annette Mason
Area Director Consultant

Leaky Bucket, Pilots, and Leadership Teams

                                   So, what on earth does a leaky bucket, pilots, and Leadership Teams have in common you ask.  Here is  a s...