Listen to the President

In his inaugural Presidential speech in 1961, JFK challenged his fellow citizens to “Ask not what your country can do for you – ask what you can do for your country.”

It has gone down as one of the most famous presidential quotes – rousing emotions and feelings of personal responsibility. Today I’d like to use it as a challenge to us all as BNI members when thinking about visitors.JFK

We all know that visitors are the life-blood of our Chapters. They are sources of potential referrals, they may join and strengthen our network, they are potential beacons of positivity to others and much more. How often though, do we really think about what we can do for visitors to improve their experience.

It’s easy (especially when visitors come to your meeting most weeks) to watch them come and go without paying much attention, leaving the work to the Visitor Hosts and leadership team.

If we believe that visitors are so vital to your chapter’s ongoing success, it surely follows that each of us should answer that challenge with confidence and relish – What can I do to improve the experience a visitor has?

Here we share 5 tips and ideas, fed by people who have recently visited a chapter, of what all members can do to enhance the visitor experience.

1 – Ensure your visitor is comfortable before they attend. If you are inviting someone, be sure that they know what to expect and what to prepare. Who wants to turn up to a meeting (physically or virtually) and have to unexpectedly make a presentation? Being prepared and aware will settle the nerves up front and increase the chances of a visitor even turning up.

2 – A warm and inclusive welcome. This goes for virtual and physical meetings – don’t leave visitors sitting there listening to thirty people chatting away without a welcome. When in a break-out room, ask questions, introduce them to other members of the group. It sounds obvious I know, but we also know that this doesn’t always happen.

3 – Be Inclusive. During the meeting consider how you can make your presentation / session relevant and engaging for visitors. Maybe include a sentence that acknowledges or explains to visitors why what you’re saying is relevant to them. A sense of inclusivity will dramatically improve their perception of your chapter.

4 – Think of introductions. When you hear from the visitors, consider any introductions you can make for them. It may be too soon for referrals, but perhaps you can facilitate a conversation with people in a similar field. Do what you can to connect visitors with others – it turns a fleeting visit into a demonstration of the power of BNI.

5 – The cherry on top. When the structured element of the meeting ends and visitors return from their Q&A / orientation, take the time to engage further and ask questions about them. Again, the power can be immense and engender the sense of inclusion for visitors.

We know that some of these tips and ideas come second nature to many, but we also know that it’s easy to slip into comfort mode and forget the impact we all have on visitors.

So let’s ask that question again, recognising we all have a part to play to improve experiences and drive our chapter forward.

What can I do to improve the experience a visitor has?




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