Dear BNI members,
Here at Alter Endeavors we are huge believers in “boots on the ground”, offline networking, especially in a structured setting like BNI. As a matter of fact, I (Nick Alter – Principal of Alter Endeavors) am the President of one of Austin’s oldest and very first chapters—Steiner Ranch Referrals.
Having been in this group for the past few years, there are a few things I’d like to mention, as a digital marketing consultant, that will help your business, the businesses of your fellow Chapter Members, and your Chapter as a whole WITHOUT BEING ANNOYING TO YOUR FRIENDS AND CONTACTS OUTSIDE OF YOUR CHAPTER. Posting week in and week out that you have the greatest Chapter, and here’s another picture of our group, is the fast track to getting blocked or de-friended. Nobody cares.
Instead, here is what we recommend as powerful, effective, engaging, and (most importantly) acceptable ways to bring exposure to your BNI chapter and fellow members.
1) ACCOMPLISHMENTS: Share fellow BNI members’ personal and business accomplishments on social media platforms.
- Be sure to tag them and their business properly on each platform you facilitate.
- Ex: Jason Crabtree and his company Premier Partners just won Parade of Homes 2013! Very proud of my friend and fellow Steiner Ranch BNIer! See you on Tuesday buddy.
2) EVENTS: Share fellow BNI members’ events on social media, especially if said events are useful (and better yet, free…)
If these events are relevant to your business, you might even want to post them to your Facebook business page and throw $20 at it to boost it. It’s something of value you can offer to your community, it drives traffic to your Facebook page, and it makes you a hero to your fellow BNIer. (Do this ONLY IF YOU FEEL COMFORTABLE with the event and the fellow BNIer.)
- Ex: The BEST counselor in Steiner, Jan More, is offering a seminar tonight about “How to Survive Your Teenager” at the Steiner Ranch Community Center. I know I need all the help I can get. Anyone want to join me?
- If posting on your personal page, be sure to tag some folks you might think would benefit from this event. Just remember to tag RELEVANT folks who would appreciate the shoutout.
3) GROUPS: Look on local community groups to see if anyone is asking for a service one of your BNI member’s provides.
In the past year, hyper-local community groups have started to sprout on Facebook. These groups are using locale to make it easy for community members to advertise goods and services for sale (or vice versa, posting their need for a service or good.) One such group is called Lakeway Swap. With over 10,000 members and growing rapidly, there are requests every day for services like plumbers, electricians, movers, you name it.
There are also sites like nextdoor.com that are strictly for community members to communicate only with their neighbors.
- When someone asks for a service, take a second to respond and suggest your fellow BNIer. Even if the people go with someone else, potentially hundreds of folks are referring to that post because they had the exact same question.
- Ex: Square Cow Movers – Best moving company in Austin, hands down. These guys changed my entire perspective on the pain of moving. 512-401-6683 – Tell them Nick sent you.
- I provided contact info because folks in this space are looking for that contact info already, and they are much more likely to choose to call a number readily available.
- It may seem silly to have to say this, but did you notice that I didn’t mention BNI in this case? Why? Because that does nothing to help your fellow BNIer in this situation, or your group. Don’t distract the referral.
Of course, it’s going to come up. Does this count as a referral? And honestly, that’s up for debate. Here’s what I do. I post the recommendation, tell folks to mention me, tag the business I’m referring in my post, email them, and then ASK them to let me know if they hear from that person. (And hopefully they followed up with that person as well via social media after I tagged/emailed them.) If they get the lead, then I count it as a referral. This may not strictly be BNI policy, but, hey—a win’s a win.
4) OTHER EVENTS: Share and tag when you and other members of your group are at other events out side of BNI. LinkedIn, Instragram, Facebook, Twitter again.
Pretty straightforward here – attend other networking events (that don’t conflict with BNI policy of course…) with other folks in your BNI group. Be sure to get some pictures, tag them appropriately and maybe tag your BNI chapter if y’all have a Twitter handle or Facebook page or some such. Don’t go overboard. Something like:
- Tom Robinson, Elicia Michaud, Ben Hendrix, Kara Hand and I representing at SXSW this year! #SteinerRanchBNI #thecuttingedge
It’s not about blasting how amazing your chapter is, or inviting everyone on Facebook to join your BNI Chapter’s page. (You can invite folks to your page, just make sure it’s relevant and appropriate to them, and you don’t keep doing it over and over again.) Just remember, the great and terrible thing about social media is that lots of folks are watching, regardless of whether or not they interact with you in that space.
Alright, that’s it for this post. More to come. Go forth, bring value to those around you.