Saturday, November 05, 2005

Business Networking Groups - Rules, Regulations, Policies...

I am the vice-president of my BNI group right now. We have 35 members and average at least 5 guests each week (Friday morning's at Hawthorne's Restaurant--Rochester, NY--7am).

As VP - I am essentially in charge of the group. For whatever reason, they chose to make the presidents of BNI groups the "meeting leader" - but give them only that main responsibility, and making the VP the heavy... perhaps this is true of the country's Pres and VP...(That may be a discussion for another day).

So as such, the BNI Leadership for our area has rolled out a bunch of new "policies" - and renewed a lot things that should have been done all along...this makes me the bad guy a lot of the time.

I bring this up because it is just a business networking group...but BNI is run like a business. It is a business. And while some of the rules about attendance and participation may seem oppressive--but it is what keeps the group going, functionable, and profitable for the member.

--more on this later, but I did want to remind everyone that business networking is...work. And our group is one of the best in the country because we take our work seriously. If you are offended by rules about showing up on time, and professional behavior, then maybe a group like Brighton's Best, is not for you.

-Meg

3 comments:

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Chuck Brady said...

I was very interested to read this and I can sympathize with you. I am the president of my BNI chapter in Vancouver. I took a look at the roles and you are right that the VP does most of the Heavy work. I think that is it great for exposure however.

Cheers,

Chuck

Tim Houston said...

As the Area Director for the NYC Outer Boroughs Region and as a BNI member for 10 years, I welcomed the changes that were made and are being implemented. You're 100% correct: BNI is a business, not a club. In fact, two words are banned in my region: "Club" and "Lead"; BNI is not a club, it is an extension of your business and every chapter is run like a business.

-- Tim Houston, Area Director, NYC Outer Boroughs Region.
We don't do "leads" in BNI. If you want leads, go out and buy them or set up a website to gather leads. We do qualified business referrals. There's a relationship between the person giving the referrals, the person being referred and the recipient.

As for the changes, don't view the VP role as the "bad guy". You're the head of the Membership Commitee (MC) and the rules and policies that are being enforced come from the MC - not you. In a corporation, the MC would be the Human Resources department. When enforcing rules, putting members on probation, evaluating members, etc., delgate the reponsibility to other members of the MC and give them some "airtime" during the MC report. Your chapter won't look at you as being the "bad guy" but will actually appreciate that all of this is being done by 2-4 other people, in addition to you. It adds further credibility and further emphasizes that this is a business in which everyone must be held accountable and play on the same team.