Episode 271: Welcoming Visitors to BNI
The benefits of being a visitor host
When we join BNI, we agree to serve our respective Chapters. Usually, the first role in which we serve the Chapter is that of Visitor Host.
I’ve heard some misguided people call it a “minion” role, but in my extensive experience, the Visitor Host Team is vital to the Chapter’s overall success. Visitor Hosts are the ones who greet visitors and guests upon their arrival and welcome them to the meeting.
If first impressions count, then you can count on that initial interaction between visitor and Visitor Host setting the scene for how your visitors’ BNI experience will go.
So for the visitor and the Chapter, the importance of this role should not be underestimated. Beyond its importance to the visitor or the Chapter, the Visitor Host role can be of great benefit to the Visitor Host themselves.
So what’s in it for Visitor Hosts?
Over the years, many members have complained to me that serving as a Visitor Host denies them the opportunity to network with other members.
As BNI members, we attend the weekly meetings to network. Our visitors have come for the same reason. Being the first person they meet is an excellent opportunity to engage with someone who is keen also to network and who you haven’t networked with before.
It’s also unlikely that a visitor will get the opportunity to network with every member of your Chapter during their visit. So, always being the first person the visitors engage with is the best way to ensure you’re never one of the members who miss out on networking with a visitor.
In an average chapter of 30 members where everyone is meeting their Power-of-One expectation of bringing at least one visitor per month, this provides Visitor Hosts with an opportunity to network with around 350 new business contacts each year.
So serving as a Visitor Host is most definitely a privilege we should all seek to take advantage of. The role systematically sets you up to up to be more successful, by making sure you engage with every visitor who visits your Chapter during your term of service.
But aren’t we ALL Visitor Hosts?
Absolutely! And as such, we should all conduct ourselves in the same open and welcoming manner that a great Visitor Host would.
However, over our time in BNI we all tend to make friends with the members of our Chapter. When we arrive at the meeting each week, it’s natural human behaviour for us to want to greet and chat with our friends. Which seems fine in theory, but it’s probably costing you a lot of money if you’re doing your social catch-ups at the BNI meeting. The most successful members are mindful of using their open networking time to make new business connections.
If you’re networking with the same members of the Chapter each week before the meeting, then you’re missing out on the opportunity to build stronger and more fruitful relationships with the rest of your Chapter (your behaviour could even be perceived as “cliquey” reducing other members’ desire to proactively create referrals for you). You may also be robbing yourself of the opportunity to network with visitors and the potential business that could come through them and their extended networks.
If you joined BNI to make money, then it’s best to keep the BNI meeting for the purpose of growing your network. There are another 166 hours in the week where we can build relationships with established members through 1-2-1s, team meetings, events and social media.
So the next time you’re asked to serve as a Visitor Host, look forward to the boost in business growth you’ll achieve, provided you have the mindset that serving is a benefit, rather than a burden. If you haven’t been a Visitor Host yet, consider approaching your Leadership Team and asking for an opportunity to be rewarded with this privilege.