Well, we’ve made it. We are officially on episode 100 of The Engaging Marketeer.
For those people who thought this was just a fad that I was never going to follow through on – I’ve done it. I’ve created 100 episodes of The Engaging Marketeer, so thank you to those people who have stayed with me this long – I appreciate it. For those people who are just listening for the first time – where the hell you been, man?
As this is episode number 100, I thought, “shall I do something really special?” In the end, I decided to do what I do best, and just make sh*t up. But, as I still wanted to try and make it relevant to 100, I realised I could do something that was especially appropriate.
I was at my networking meeting this morning, where it was pointed out by a fellow member that I had been a 100-point member for the last 12 months (give or take). For those of you who don’t know about networking, I can modestly say that is quite an achievement.
Let me explain, first of all, what a networking group is, and then what it takes to achieve this.
For those of you in business, you will most likely be aware of networking meetings. You’ll probably have gone to meetings yourself, where you typically visit in the early morning or in the afternoon. There’s usually food involved, tea and coffee, a bit of breakfast. You’ll meet other businesses owners, or other employees of businesses people, who want to take their business card and shove it into your hand, hoping that you’ll go away and call them. You’ll have business cards yourself that you’ll hand out like confetti, in the hope that other people will come to you. That’s how most networking meetings go, but if you really understand networking, you’ll know that it actually isn’t supposed to work like at all.
Rather than trying to meet as many people as you can possibly deal with, it’s actually supposed to be about meeting the same people, and building relationships with them. That’s what BNI is all about. For those who don’t know, BNI – Business Network International – started in 1985, and it’s been in the UK a little shorter time than that. There are currently 13,000 or so members in the UK, and I’m in one of those groups. We meet in Chester on Thursday mornings, and each group has one person per category – so, one electrician, one plumber, one digital marketing agency, you get the idea.
It’s always the same place, the same time, not particularly great coffee (if I’m honest with you) and you get to hear about what other people do, and hear about how they help people in their business. Hopefully, you’ll get to know them and trust them, which then of course leads you on to introducing them to your clients, your contacts, or even your family. It’s about building relationships, not going to lots of different groups and throwing business cards out like you’re trying to make it rain.
So, this 100-point member thing I’m trying to tenuously link to the 100th episode.
When you go to a referral meeting, most of them are not measured on activity, so you don’t have to help other people or pass business. You’ll find a lot of them are just like coffee clubs. In a BNI group, everybody is tracked on what they do, and how they help other people. The point of being there is to grow your business, so everybody is measured on their performance, which is why they have something called a traffic light system. This gives you a measurement of how well you’re doing, and if you do everything brilliantly, you can earn 100 points over time, which is where I am now. I don’t mean to brag or anything, but there aren’t many 100-point members in the UK.
So, what is the purpose of it?
First of all, you are measured on a series of key performance indicators. There’s your attendance – so, actually turning up to meetings – there’s the number of referrals or business referrals that you pass to other members, and there are the testimonials you read out for other members, who you’ve passed a business onto, they’ve done the work, and you’re happy with it.
Then, there’s the difficult bit – bringing other eligible people along to the meetings.
So, it’s not just about turning up to a BNI meeting and saying, “oh, hey, how you doing Dave?” It’s about meeting people in between the meetings, so that you can have more time to get to know who they are, what they do, and how you can actually introduce them and refer them (and, of course, how they can refer you). Because the whole point is about getting business – that’s why we do it.
There’s also the one-to-one meetings you have with other members in between the BNI meetings. A one-to-one usually takes about an hour, and you’ll meet with another member. It can be at their venue, your venue, or somewhere neutral , like a Costa Coffee or a Starbucks. You discuss their business, talk about your business, and together you come up with ways you can introduce each other through referrals. At the end of the meeting, you both set an action, which you log over a set period. Realistically, the more you do, the more referrals you’re going to get, and ultimately the more business you’re going to receive. You can also do one-to-ones with members from other chapters – and what with it being a global organisation, through the power of Zoom and Microsoft Teams, you can have one-to-ones with people anywhere on the planet. I’ve spoken to people in the United States, Australia, Canada – even in in Norway (in English, obviously, as I don’t speak Norwegian. His English was probably better than mine).
So, you can have one-to-ones with members anywhere, and log them as a cross-chapter, cross-region or cross-country.
In order to get 100 points, it’s based over a rolling six-month period. The activity you do in the last six months adds up to the number of points that you get – so, if you earn 100 points, you get to the top of the traffic lights, as this is the maximum amount of points you can get.
You can also earn points by completing training, which you can achieve by listening to podcasts. You can listen through Dr. Ivan Misner’s official BNI podcast (which I’ll link below, along with my interview with Ivan himself) that are about 14 minutes long. If you’ve got, say, an hour commute into work and an hour commute back, you can put the podcast on along the way, and that’s two hours’ worth of training every single day!
I also run the website BNI Education Slots (again, I’ll link it below), and have dozens of BNI education slots on YouTube, which is a part of the training you can watch. You don’t get points for listening to that, unfortunately, but it is definitely worth having a look.
I’m actually looking for BNI members now, so if you’re a BNI member listening to this podcast or watching this on YouTube, then please get in touch. My goal for 2024 is to become the number one BNI member in the UK, so if you are, for example, in construction, or an architect, where a referral to you is worth a lot of money, I can potentially introduce you to your dream client.
That’s my little pitch out of the way, but it’s a pitch to help you and your business, which is what being a BNI member is all about.
So, that’s it from me, and my little introduction into what BNI is all about, and how you become a 100-point member – loosely tied into the fact that this is the 100th episode of The Engaging Marketeer podcast! Thank you very much for listening, and I will catch you on the next episode.
About your host:
Darren has worked within digital marketing since the last century, and was the first in-house web designer for video games retailer GAME in the UK, known as Electronics Boutique in the States. After co-founding his own agency, Engage Web, in 2009, Darren has worked with clients around the world, including Australia, Canada and the USA.
Engaging Marketeer: https://engagingmarketeer.com
Engage Web: https://www.engageweb.co.uk
Listen to Darren’s interview on BNI, here: https://www.bnipodcast.com/2023/10/11/episode-830-inviting-visitors-through-social-media/
Discover more about BNI:
The official BNI podcast: https://www.bnipodcast.com/
BNI Education Slots: https://bnieducationslots.com/
BNI Education Slots (YouTube): https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCe_inHZovDd6GorREWO6jeg