Posts Tagged ‘Tier 1’

Leaving The Network Nest – Fly BNI Birdie, Fly!

February 21, 2010

Some people are natural networkers. They walk into their weekly BNI meeting and work the room during the open networking welcome time. They even get there early to have extra time with chapter members about referrals they have passed, to help out with Visitor Hosting by making the guests feel welcome and to help set up the room. If every chapter had people like that to volunteer extra time and services…

They go through the meeting and get to that most fun part of the week, passing referrals with each other to grow everyone’s business. Here is where we see a split between networkers and business people who come for the breakfast. The networkers pass referrals where the prospects are outside people that they know. It could be their clients, family, friends, co-workers, vendors, neighbors, etc. Occasionally they may even refer them self to another chapter member but the majority of the referrals are what are called in BNI as  Tier 2 referrals. These referrals are identified during the week and the contact information for each referral is written on a BNI Referral Slip before the meeting.

On the flip side is the Member Who Comes For Breakfast. They have their BNI membership on a low priority burner and don’t think much about BNI or their fellow chapter members during the week. They are ‘too busy’ and can’t get around to being proactive to find Tier 2 referrals. They show up at most of the weekly meetings but rarely take an important chapter job. They engage other members about the weather, sports and other non-business items but hardly ever talk to a visitor. When referral time comes along they pass referrals mainly about themselves (Tier 1 referrals) to fellow chapter members or even to a visitor even though they may know nothing about the background of the visitor. While a visitor is a potential BNI member, they are not vetted yet by the Membership Committee. Unless you have a previous history with them, you have no relationship to extract trust and confidence from as you do over time with other BNI members. Are these the best referral opportunities?

An analogy for these two types of BNI members is that of a birds nest. Each spring there is a new batch of eggs that get hatched. The parent birds feed the little ones and mentor them to learn the skills to grow. As the bond between the new birds and the mentor birds grows, the new birds get less dependent upon the mentor birds in dealing with each other. At some point they get strong enough to stop taking food from the mentors and they fly out to find their own.

But not necessarily all of them! Sometimes a bird just doesn’t get the training or have the skills or simply ignores the mentoring from the older birds. They refuse to fly out of the nest and just bother each other continually. No progress is made towards growing up as have the other successful birds. Mostly all you hear from them are complaints about why things aren’t as good as they could be. Eventually, the older birds must make a decision. Do they give up on training the new underdeveloped birds and just kick them out to see if they will fly? Do they tolerate the bad behavior that resulted from ‘failure to launch’? Do they continue the situation where a now very large new bird is consuming far too many resources and providing no return on investment? That is a tough love decision indeed. They like the young birds but there comes a point…

Membership Committees in BNI face this problem continuously. The fact is that BNI is a wonderful proven system of working with other business professionals for mutual benefit. It is not for everyone. Sometimes a business person does not understand how it works. They don’t place significant priority on the ideals and methods shown to them by other chapter members, network educators, Directors in training classes such as Member Success Program, etc. They make no effort to find the Tier 2 referrals that we all strive for, they are satisfied with Tier 1 referrals from themselves to others. They are not able or ready to fly.

Can they be helped? Of course, if they want to succeed and place proper respect for the BNI system in their business nest. If they accept the Givers Gain attitude, if they have a feel for BNI during the week, if they seriously listen to other chapter members about business instead of talking about other things, yes, they can change into a Tier 2 type of networker. They can fly from the nest and see the rest of the business world out there that BNI places before them. It really is okay to pass a Tier 1 referral when you need to but it should never form the bulk of how your chapter members think of you. Fly BNI Birdie, fly out and prosper!