It’s often been said that visitors are the lifeblood of BNI and it’s certainly true.
Natural attrition means on average 20% of members leave due to factors outside of the chapter’s control. Visitors provide the possibility of new members to maintain and grow the chapter.
Even if visitors don’t apply to join, on average they spend $1,000 each as well as adding interest and energy to the meeting.
Who to invite?
Often, we overthink who to invite but our meetings are enjoyable places to be so, within reason, invite anyone you think might enjoy the meeting. They don’t have to have a business, just a great attitude! Don’t try to pre-qualify if they could be members, it’s very hard to do that.
Once you meet someone who has the right attitude, just ask them, using your version of something along these lines: “I’m part of a local business networking group and I think you’d enjoy coming to the meeting, can I invite you to next week’s meeting?” This is an easy way of opening up the conversation.
Once they attend the meeting the visitor process will work out if they are suitable applicants (if they even want to apply) and then the application process will ensure they are good fit before the chapter accept them.
How to send an invitation and then register a visitor
The simplest method is to use the BNI Connect App. Once they have indicated they would like to visit, please ensure they have completed the RSVP link or use the registration function. From here the primary care of your visitor passes to the Visitor Hosts and the visitor process that has been established by your chapter.
The Visitor Process
The Visitor Process your chapter uses should ensure that visitors receive a consistently positive experience of your chapter and BNI. It should also identify if they have further interest in applying to join and if so, what is the next step.
The process starts following registration with an automated email to your visitor telling them when and where to come to the meeting.
Following registration, visitors will receive 2 automated email reminders. Ideally one of your visitor hosts will also call them the day before the meeting to let them know everyone is looking forward to meeting them and ensure they know what to expect on the day.
On the day of the meeting your visitor hosts will be set up by the door of the venue to welcome the members and visitors. Ideally, they will sign the visitors in, give them a name badge, take their business cards, help them order their breakfast and coffee, collect any fee payable, find them a seat to place their belongings and introduce them to a member who will look after them until the meeting starts. All chapter members are visitor hosts from here on and in fact, they should want to meet as many visitors as possible.
During the meeting the President will guide visitors as to how they participate in the weekly presentations (60 second presentations) part of the meeting and explain how they can contribute to the referrals and testimonials section.
At the end of the meeting the visitor hosts will make sure each visitor gives their feedback about their intentions around applying for membership, so they don’t leave the meeting not knowing what the next steps are.
After the meeting the visitor hosts will be back in contact with visitors who have further interest in applying.
Once a visitor is registered, the responsibility for the visitor passes from the invitee to the chapter.
Once they are at a meeting, we are all responsible for making sure the visitor is welcomed and looked after. The visitor hosts have extra responsibilities before, during and after the meeting, especially in making sure that the chapter and visitor understand the visitor’s intentions and any next steps they want to take.
Visitors don’t know our rules or systems so it’s important the President and the chapter help them understand what is happening in the meeting and what they need to do.
Important notes about visitors and the visitor process
General policy is that a visitor may visit a maximum of two times before submitting an application.
A chapter may allow a visitor to keep attending while their application is in process.
It’s the chapter’s decision whether to pay for the visitor’s breakfast(s) or not.
It is at the chapter’s discretion whether to allow visitors to present a weekly presentation (60 second presentation) and for how long they can present.
Most chapters need an average of 2 visitors a week to maintain or slightly grow the chapter.
Internationally the average visitor to member conversion rate is around 1 new member for every 7 visitors.