Monday, 13 November 2017

Good Substitution – a great goal

By Adam D.A. Manning

One of the key principles in BNI, the world’s largest business networking organisation, is attendance is critical to the group. I’m writing it in bold type if you haven’t noticed just like it is in BNI’s general policies, so I’ll say it again. Attendance is critical to the group.  This is because showing up regularly and consistently at our meetings, week in, week out, is the best way to develop and mature relationships with each other so that we feel more confident about passing referrals. More referrals mean more money.

In reality, from time to time you might have appointments or even, dare I say it, holidays that mean you have a good reason not to be at the meeting. If you know in advance, BNI’s policy is, “If a member cannot attend, they may send a substitute (not a member of their own Chapter) to the meeting. This will not count as an absence.”

A substitute goes along on your behalf to give your Weekly Presentation at the meeting when you are absent.

The most important point here – who do you choose to be your substitute? It really can be anyone. Picking a substitute can be a good opportunity to choose someone that might be beneficial for your fellow members.  As with Visitors, Substitutes might have referrals or contacts for other members, especially if they haven’t been to our meetings before.

Good substitutes can be colleagues from your own business or your clients or customers, suppliers or other business contacts. One way to sell this is to remind them they are getting a delicious full English breakfast on you, as their breakfast fee is of course covered by your regular subscription.

You can also consider family and friends as substitutes.  One advantage is that hopefully they will talk about your business in glowing terms!

Ideally, good substitutes will be people, like Visitors, who are potentially in a position to consider joining the group.  They should be treated just like Visitors, especially if it is their first visit to the group.  They may well have referrals for members of the group or be interested in joining themselves.  Picking a good substitute can potentially be a great benefit to the group as a result.

A challenge a networking group can have is people who regularly substitute for members of the group.  They are unlikely to have referrals for other members or to want to join; if they had wanted to join, they would have already.  They are less likely to have referrals or new contacts for members of the group, having been a number of times before. So, selecting a good substitute can really make a difference.

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