One of BNI’s 7 core values is Tradition and Innovation. We’re encouraged to honour and appreciate the components of our organisation that have helped to build the most successful referral marketing system in the world. But innovation is also a part of ensuring that system is always operating at peak performance.
Chapter Leadership Teams will sometimes implement new ideas or procedures with the aim of improving or adding to the BNI member experience. When thought through in detail and enacted with high levels of professionalism, these implementations can be a great way to enhance every Chapter.
IT CAN BE A RISK THOUGH
Challenges can present themselves if minor alterations to the meeting structure aren’t well considered first and executed with professionalism.
Without proper consideration and planning, a new idea being implemented “live” for the first time may throw up some unexpected curve balls. This may make the meeting (and therefore Chapter) appear less professional. An example of this could be a “Themed Weekly Presentation,” or a made-up award outside of the contributions which should normally be recognised.
MEETING STIMULI CAN GO EITHER WAY
As a form of meeting stimulus, Leadership Teams may sometimes ask members to present a “Themed Weekly Presentation” for a particular meeting. These can be a good way of enticing members to think outside the box and take a different approach that week.
But it might also pose a risk. With the best of intentions, some members might choose to inject humour into this theme. Humour itself is no issue. However we can all have very different ideas of what is funny, and what we deem acceptable humour in a professional meeting environment. Recently, we saw an example of unintended consequences, when a Chapter President asked members to include lyrics from a popular musician (well known for dropping the “F-bomb”) in their weekly presentations. I’m sure we can all imagine how this one turned out.
There are at least 42 pre-approved meeting stimulants for weekly presentations which have been thoroughly tested and needless to say this was not one of them!
Similarly, Leadership Teams may decide to award one member each week for the “best” weekly presentation. Unfortunately, every single time we’ve seen these kinds of awards in Adelaide, it has rapidly led to members trying to win the award through the use of humour and / or shock-value. Some members even attempted to “one-up” each other, in the hopes of winning the award, rather than delivering a weekly presentation using “Big Language” that will create referrals for them.
In fact, every local chapter which implemented such an award has eventually abandoned it, but only after losing several good members as a result. Many of those members who resigned took the time to give me their feedback; saying that they walked away because they thought they’d invested time and money to join a professional business referral group and creating an environment where acting like the class clown to win a teddy bear wasn’t particularly aligned with that.
SO WHAT’S THE ANSWER?
To start with, it’s best to always keep the BNI Core Values and Mission Statement in mind.
BNI MISSION STATEMENT
The mission of BNI is to help members increase their business through a structured, positive, and professional “word-of-mouth” program that enables them to develop long-term, meaningful relationships with quality business professionals.
BNI CORE VALUES
Givers Gain® is the underlying philosophy of BNI. It simply means that by giving business to others, they will want to give you business in return.
People who learn more tend to earn more in our society. We believe in the continuous improvement of personal and professional skills and BNI provides a variety of online and offline opportunities to support lifelong learning.
3Traditions + Innovation
Tradition in an organisation tells us where we come from and lays the foundation of who we are, but we must always be looking for ways to innovate to keep ahead of current trends in the marketplace.
BNI provides an environment that enables you to surround yourself with people who want to help you succeed through peer support and qualified business introductions.
Networking is more about forming long-term meaningful connections with new contacts than hunting for quick transactions. People want to do business with people they know, like and trust. It’s about cultivating those relationships.
If you want to have a powerful personal network, you must have accountability. Otherwise, it becomes a social group with little business generated.
It’s important to recognise those who are contributing in ways that add true value to their fellow members, such as bringing visitors and qualified referrals.
When the BNI Code of Ethics and Mission Statement are kept top of mind during decision processes around Meeting Stimuli, professionalism and acceptable conduct are easier to ensure.
The meeting agenda is set out a very specific way, to deliver an excellent visitor experience. Leadership Teams should be mindful that the weekly meeting is for the visitors and only ever consider varying it after close communication with their Director Consultant who may be aware of unintended consequences that can take your chapter off mission and detract from the visitor experience, ultimately costing you money.
So, remember, we join BNI as professionals looking to grow our businesses. Meeting Stimuli are best decided upon by the Leadership Team, selecting from the list pre-approved by BNI and implemented only after communication with your Director Consultant.