Just like society in general, BNI Chapters benefit greatly when they have diversity and balance. Chapters that have six or so contact spheres of close to equal size, find that this balance and diversity is invaluable to the overall Chapter success.
There have been members in the past who haven’t given much thought to the members outside their contact sphere. But as many of us know quite well, some of the best referrals can come from people we would not have initially expected could facilitate such an introduction.
We should never think of Chapter diversity as “more members unrelated to what I do”. Chapter diversity should be considered as “more in-roads to networks I might not normally have easy access to.”
When this level of diversity is also combined with balance, that’s where we see exceptional results for everyone involved. If all the contact spheres in your Chapter have five, or six, or more members, these spheres are not only going to refer well amongst themselves, but the rest of the Chapter will also benefit. A balanced Chapter of strong contact spheres is a recipe for profit.
It’s not uncommon for the Health contact sphere of a Chapter to be under-represented. As opposed to the Trades sphere of most Chapters that normally has five or more members, the Health sphere can sometimes struggle with as little as one or two members.
So, whose responsibility is it to get the numbers up in your contact sphere if necessary? Well, the answer is everyone. But the people best positioned to grow a contact sphere are the people already in it. A physiotherapist is more likely to already have a working relationship with another health professional who they can invite, than say a carpenter or electrician does.
But what happens if you feel you’ve “exhausted your network” in a particular profession that would directly slot into your contact sphere? Firstly, you might find you’ve only scratched the surface and when you dig a little deeper, you’ll find you’re either directly connected to more of these people than you first realised.
Secondly, a strategy that always worked well for me was to ask the professional I had a relationship with to refer me to one of their competitors who was hungry to grow their business. One of two things would virtually always happen, either they’d reconsider their own initial objection and decide to visit my Chapter meeting (FOMO-Fear Of Missing Out), or they’d actually recommend someone in their profession who they respected and often actually referred clients they didn’t want to take on board for one reason or another, to these so-called “competitors.”
The third strategy is to recognise that taking responsibility doesn’t necessarily mean you have to personally invite your “target” contact sphere profession into the room, you can also leverage off the networks within your Chapter by educating your fellow members via your Weekly Presentations and One-to-Ones and ask them to invite these professionals along. But who benefits from helping smaller contact spheres to grow strong? Whose best interests is it in for that to happen. Again, it’s everyone’s.