In my first article for this newsletter, I introduced a different way to market your meridian tapping practice by using the concept of Success Coaching click here for article. In it I gave an example of marketing yourself as a "Success Coach" at what is called a "BNI" meeting.
Today I'm going to give you detailed information about this unique organization and the benefits of visiting and/or joining your local BNI chapter. Stay tuned! This may be very important to you.
Let me start by saying that I have learned more about networking in amazing win-win ways in 6 months of BNI than I had in 10 years of professional sales!
BNI has opened my eyes to the power of creating and leveraging business relationships to grow my practice and it's taught me how every step of the way.
And it works! In the past 6 months, I have received 17 new clients booking blocks of individual sessions and many more in workshop attendance.
BNI stands for Business Networking International. It is the largest business networking organization in the world that has been strong for 27 years. BNI is strong in thousands of towns and cities across the US and in 42 countries worldwide.
What more does it do? Well, BNI offers members the opportunity to share ideas, contacts and most importantly business referrals.
Wall Street Journal wrote, "With many small businesses scrambling to weather the recession, the networking business is thriving… Business people realize that in this tough economy they've got to do some extra things."
Business Weekly describes it in the following way, "Business Network Int'l… an organization that offers highly motivated business people a weekly no-nonsense breakfast meeting that virtually guarantees them customer leads." More information can be found at the official website http://www.bni.com.
The goal of any BNI chapter is to make money for all of its members by passing along great referrals. This is how it works.
A BNI chapter is made up of local small business owners, self employed professionals and employees of larger local businesses. Each local chapter takes only one person per professional specialty, so there can only be one realtor, one chiropractor, one attorney, one massage therapist, one banker, etc. Once that seat is filled, the competition is locked out of that particular chapter.
Chapters meet once per week, usually in the morning, for 15 minutes of open networking and a 1.25 hour structured meeting following an often tight agenda. The meeting consists of all the members and any invited guests and is run by the president of the chapter.
During the meeting each member stands and gives their weekly "60 second commercial" stating their name, business, how they help clients and specifically the type of referrals they are looking for that week or that month. After the members have spoken, guests are invited to stand and give their 60 second commercial and pass their business cards around the room. Note: a timekeeper times the 60 sec presentations, so they are expected to be planned, rehearsed and crisp.
Another part of the meeting allows every member and guest to stand again and either pass referrals to other members, thank each other for closed business or give a member a testimonial. Many of my fellow BNI members, turned clients, have given me such heart-felt testimonials during the meeting that other members and guests have signed up for a session on the spot!
And as a member of BNI, you can visit any other chapter whenever you like, and market yourself there as well, which is highly encouraged. Within each chapter all the members get to know each other personally and professionally through the weekly group meetings and through short individual 1 to 1 meetings. The goal is to build familiarity and trust in each other personally and really understand each others businesses. This is so we can confidently recommend each other and refer each other both clients and "chickens" to help build each other’s businesses.
WHAT IS A "CHICKEN"?
Well, finding "chickens" is just as important as finding clients because they are people who can potentially refer a whole network of clients to you. If a client is an egg, than a chicken is someone who produces lots of eggs for you! For instance, I have learned that chiropractors are my chickens because they are incredibly important referral sources for me. So I need both clients, and to be introduced to chiropractors. In this way, the BNI now becomes your extended sales force with an ear always open to the kinds of problems you solve and the kinds of referrals and connections you want.
Imagine a team of 25-40 people who know you personally, believe in you professionally and look forward to finding and handing you solid referrals of potential clients. It's really quite miraculous!
In addition, BNI members often become clients of each other. I found my web designer, my business insurance agent, my internet marketer and an amazing massage therapist, to name a few, and many members have found ME!
I'm going to give you the fascinating details about this in my next article. You'll learn step-by-step how I made this into a successful venture for myself, and how you can do the same thing. This is an extraordinary opportunity for anyone in the meridian tapping field.
Whether you have any intention of joining or not, it is definitely valuable to visit as many BNI chapters as you can find. At each meeting, you will have an opportunity to network informally, give your 60 second commercial and hand out all your business cards and anything else – like a flyer for an upcoming workshop. As a bonus I am providing several pre-written 60 sec commercials that I have used in the past. On the website, www.bni.com, you will see a "find a chapter" feature that will let you find and contact a local BNI Director and visit a meeting. The love visitors!
When you do visit, be sure to bring several copies of "Try It On Everything" with you. Why not have the validation and credibility of Jack Canfield and Cheryl Richardson and Joe Vitale with you? Especially since you are likely to find several followers of "The Secret" in the group. I have found that Jack Canfield is the most famous figure to rest on and I often carry his book "The Success Principles" to bring the point home. To explain that success guru Jack Canfield uses meridian tapping for the same reason you do, because it helps successful people break through their limits, is very powerful! Plan to lend out or give a way a few copies of the film and expect to get at least one new client!
Now you know what to expect in the meeting, but what about the people? BNI people are typically positive, upbeat people! During business recessions, these are the people whose businesses are actually growing. They are business savvy, networking savvy and many are into the law of attraction. Plus, they are hooked into to lots and lots of other business groups and networking events. I had no idea that there were so many events going on every week beyond the typical "chamber of commerce" events. These events and other groups are usually looking for great speakers with interesting topics. For example one of my fellow members connected me to a speaking opportunity at an annual sales award luncheon for 200 local business people!
So I highly recommend you find and visit several of your local BNI chapters. I visited several chapters and later ended up joining the one that felt right to me – the most energy, the most welcoming and best business referral potential for me.
Please note that if you are a licensed therapist, you would need to check first with the director to make sure there is not already a therapist seat filled in the chapter (as you would be competition). However, I highly doubt there will be a "success coach" position filled, or a meridian tapping Practitioner. Also note, if there is a business coach in the chapter you will have to explain to them you are not a business coach – they are quite different. I have also found I am not in competition with the many life coaches out there and that we are great referral sources for each other.
What about the results? My chapter has about 25 members and has passed almost a half million dollars worth of business in referrals among the members during 2009. I have received 17 solid referrals, many of whom had more than 3 sessions. Quite a return on the annual membership fee! This doesn't include a marked increase in attendance at my workshops.
A less quantifiable but important benefit is my own growth as a business owner. BNI has taught me and challenged me to hone and refine my marketing messaging over and over. To think about and clarify what I wanted to focus on, who are my target clients, who are my best referral sources, how to convey the benefits. They taught me how to do a great and different 60 second commercial every week making my messaging stronger, bolder, more targeted. They taught me how to ask specifically for the clients I want to build my practice. I have also found the professionals there serve as a sort of management team/HR department for each other for advice, camaraderie and support.
But there is something even more exciting within BNI – an idea that has even more potential to transform your practice. Two concepts: contact spheres and power teams.
Listen to the Official BNI Podcast: “Power Teams & Contact Spheres”
Understanding contact spheres and leveraging power teams has been the key, the real gem in the BNI experience! And you can use these concepts, and SHOULD, even if you never join a BNI. As always, I would love to hear from you: questions, comments, experiences!
Margaret Lynch, EFT Cert-1, EFT-ADV, is a Success Coach, author of the “Secret of Intentional Wealth” book series, and the host of her own radio show Stress vs Success on Voice America.com. She was recently a featured presenter at the Tapping World Summit. Margaret can be reached at margaretlynch.com.