Episode 271: Welcoming Visitors to BNI
BNI Visitors Experience – “Going the extra mile”
The value in having visitors attend our Chapter meetings can never be stated enough. Visitors purchase from members they see when they visit. Not every visitor, and not every time, but our research shows that at least 52% of visitors use the services of a Chapter member and over 20% of total Chapter revenue is attributed to visitors. Make no mistake, the BNI visitor experience is a crucial consideration for every Chapter.
Visitors who are quality operators and have good networks sitting behind them, also make great additions to the Chapter membership. In these instances, it’s important to display your Chapter as something they can see value in joining.
So how do you do that?
The key to a great visitor experience is “going the extra mile”.
Just like if you had a visitor to your home that you wanted to impress, there are steps you would take to ensure your visitor was comfortable, happy, at ease, and wanting for nothing (within reason of course). If your home was untidy, you’d have a bit of a tidy-up before your visitor arrived. You might consider having some snacks, or even a meal prepared for them. And of course, Australian society in 2019 pretty much commands that part of social etiquette is to offer a cup of coffee or tea.
These acts all make sense. We know that if we behave in this way, our goal of impressing that guest is much more attainable than if we‘d just opened the door for them and told them to sit on the floor.
Needless to say it’s wise to use these same principles when welcoming and hosting visitors who we want to impress at our Chapter. Not all the actions are the same, but the principles of a hospitable and accommodating experience are.
Visitors should be welcomed at the entrance with a handshake and a smile, then escorted to the visitor’s table where they are signed in, given a badge or lanyard with their name on it, before one of the Visitor Hosts then organises a coffee, or other drink, for them.
A great Visitor Host will then “go the extra mile”, by considering what the visitor does for an occupation, and then introducing that visitor to a Chapter member who they may have some synergy with. They may be in a complimentary occupation, or maybe they share a similar type of customer.
It’s important at this point that we remember that the best approach to take is “What can I do for this visitor?”.Not, “Can I get this visitor to purchase from me?”. Givers Gain®. If you want that visitor to consider your services or products, what better way to achieve that than by solving a problem they have, or connecting them with someone who can be a valuable contact for them?
The “going the extra mile” mindset doesn’t end here though. During open networking, it’s important to remember that this person may be new to this environment, and also probably doesn’t know anyone (except the person who invited them). If during this time before the meeting starts, the visitor finds themselves not involved in any conversation, it’s a good idea to begin a conversation with them. Likewise, if two visitors are talking together with no Chapter members, you’re members are costing themselves money.
Once the meeting has commenced, the meeting agenda ensures that visitors get a chance to introduce themselves and tell everyone a quick bit about what they do. Near the end of the meeting visitors are encouraged to provide feedback on what impressed them most, and throughout the meeting, the agenda is set out to make sure our visitors aren’t made to feel alienated at any time (that’s one of the reasons it’s so important not to stray from the agenda).
“Going the extra mile” for your visitors’ experience continues after the meeting concludes. During the visitor orientation, honest and open communication regarding any queries they may have is the best way to encourage suitable visitors to apply for membership, thereby growing your sphere of influence in the Adelaide business networking community.
And finally, if you’re the person who invited the visitor, you should give them a follow-up call the next day. This will completely round out the experience for them in a professional and courteous manner. If they’ve applied to join, they will receive communication from the Membership Committee, however the phone call from you is still important.