This week’s podcast is a short one with some tips about SEO, information about some new websites we’ve recently launched and podcast news.
See all of the upcoming events at our calendar: www.adelaidebusinessevents.com.au
See all of the upcoming events at our calendar: www.adelaidebusinessevents.com.au
I caught up with Caroline McLaren from HUB Australia to chat about the new HUB Adelaide space (opening in September 2013) and some of the events that HUB Adelaide are running up to and after the launch of the space.
Here are some helpful links;
You can get info on all the HUB Adelaide events plus all other Adelaide Business Events at our calendar: adelaidebusinessevents.com.au
Nick: Caroline, welcome back to Web Marketing Adelaide and Adelaide Business Events. Today, we’re talking with Caroline McLaren from Hub Australia about the coming of Hub Adelaide Space. I call it Space in Adelaide and also some of the events that they’ve been working on. Good day, Caroline. Welcome to the show.
Caroline: Hey, thank you.
Nick: Let’s get started by you telling us a little about yourself and your involvement with Hub.
Caroline: Yes, certainly. I’m an activator at Hub Australia, which means I have the pleasure and wonderful opportunity of helping Hub gets started, so facilitating great for the community. We at Hub Venue, a lot of people talking about us being a co-working space, but we’re much more than that. We really are about the community and the networks that exist in the wide community and how we can progress together. My role essentially is to run the right kind of events and meet ups and opportunities for people to connect, so that we start to build the community, while before we even have the club house, the co-working space.
Nick: Awesome. If anyone who’s watching this, that don’t really know much about Hub or about co-working in general, why don’t you give us an overview of what the Hub model is? How it differs from others, from co-working type of spaces, and it’s generally, what goes at Hub to Hub?
Caroline: Yes, certainly. Yes sir. Co-working is essentially a shared office space, and rather than the typical stuff of the office models, it actually taps in to the social capital that the community has, so rather than that set up of going and sitting at your desk and not actually connecting with people co-working facilitates the connections in between people and the hub more or so a need [unclear]. Essentially, the co-working space as you walk in, all sorts of different desks, meeting rooms, boozy where the people would like to take private phone calls and big kitchen break cutters, so all the like conveniences of a modern office for those who know the Google kind of office experience, so that’s what we’re really going for in terms of physical infrastructure, but we’re taking it one step further and really look for ways to connect the community, so that they can start working on the projects together.
Nick: Awesome. In terms of Hub being different from other spaces, is there any some major differential points or?
Caroline: Yes, certainly. I guess Hub vastly at a global level is the international network of co-working communities. National Hub Australia also have made National Co-working Community, because we have knowing up and running. Sydney is just getting actually in the moment, actually in the Hub Sydney Space as we speak and obviously then the Adelaide later this year, so it’s unique in terms of the connections on that each national and international level. It’s also unique in terms of the membership base. Our members are from about from 50 different industries and cover all sectors: education, government, corporate, non for profit, so that kind of opportunity means that you can connect with people from all sorts of industry, so rather than a co-working experience unless would you mind going into a space where people have similar to your undertaking similar projects. You have the opportunity to connect with people from all different sorts of sectors. Then, another being process around flexibility, so membership is being month to month flow of type situation. Everything in the space is fluid on everything around. Yes, there is definitely an element of flexibility that we also provide.
Nick: Cool. Talking now about at Hub Adelaide specifically, what was the reason behind choosing to expand to Adelaide?
Caroline: The Adelaide ecosystem, in terms of enterprise and social impact, just taking off over the past few years. We have in advice start and begin there last year. They’ve attached to it for few years now. Obviously the Startup weekend came here last year and SS 48 said, this year in Adelaide. What we’re seeing is the brightening of the Startup ecosystem and it’s really an opportunity at moment for Hub Adelaide, I guess to facilitate this via Space where people can run memoirs and make a program and all sorts of events like that, but also starts, possibly, the connection across the different industries, I believe that are really tough for the develop to occur.
Nick: Cool. You are running, or started to run events in Adelaide even though the Space is opening until later in the year. When does this actually open in Adelaide?
Caroline: Yes, we were opening the first weekend of September. That’s pretty much from schedule, so it’s only a few months up now. The property is the corner in the [unclear 5:07] street, which was an old fashion show [unclear] photo, so there is a phenomenal space with really large ceiling and natural sunlight, this space is really going to be really great, space we’re going to be working for. On Tuesday, the 21st of May, we’re running the exhibition of showing of the designs that basically the community had created. Over the past three months, it was actually, since January, we’ve been running series of events. I think we’ve been ran at least ten, eleven events now. Anything from sexy salad, where people were bringing different ingredients to create a salad together right through the—yes basically tapping into the knowledge of the community to figure out what exactly we want from the Adelaide. All of that is sort of coming to life now. We just needed the designs; take some place through each meet up and seeing more and more networks involvements and people sharing their opportunities that they have with us. Thanks for the connections that they’ve been able to make for these events.
Nick: I’ve been to a couple of events that you guys had put on them and yes that tested the quality for sure. Are events going on up until launch and up until the Space open or is it ongoing as part of that?
Caroline: Most definitely, yes. At a Hub, we have up to ten events going at social learning events. Our learning events tend to have basically the popular of what we consider a need of a small business need, so we have a business design technology and health involvements. We continue to see those themes being reflected in the events that we’ve run right through the opening on September, so pretty much every other week will be running events throughout Adelaide over in the few months. Then, once it’s up and the running it will be full staying ahead. Other than speakers coming up from United States, on six of June, we’re running workshop at with David Rigs around ‘Perfect Pitch in Preventing [unclear 7:07] Audience’. David Griggs is a well known presenter and public speaker and coach in Adelaide. Then on first week of June, we’re running lane week co-working, so we’re running, pull out a date already where individuals have the opportunity to come and experience up pop-up co-working experience. Now we’re going to take it to the street, in [Pill 7:28] street on lane week co-working. For those who are weather [unclear], so there will be definitely indoor options, so in case it’s a little bit too chilly or a little bit too rainy.
Nick: Cool. Are these events just for people in the Space or are they for the wide community as well?
Caroline: Yes. These events are for the wider community. Both in terms of the events we’re running the meet up once in September and once we’re opened. We consider that our role will be done once people have their own connections, so we’re only there to facilitate that. We inviteall community members to come for these co-creation events, for this top up co-working events and once again well stay once this is over.
Nick: Awesome. Where can people go to find out more about the Space, where it’s going to be and the information and the announcements of the events?
Caroline: Yes. There are few different options, you can go to HubAdelaide.com is one way to. Also, visit our Facebook page which is www.facebook.com/HubAdelaide and we are on Twitter as well. One of the best ways to find out more about what we’re up to is we’re running a series of co-creation videos that will be launched basically every month, so we’ve got one already up and there will be one shortly. It’s also a really good idea to register your details at HubAdelaide.com to sign up for the monthly newsletters, so you know what events are happening, what opportunities we have.
Nick: Awesome. I’ll put all of the links that you just mentioned on the blog on Adelaide Businesses Events. We’ll also add the very next events to our calendar that are coming up to these events AdelaideBusinessEvents.com.au, if anyone wants to check them out there. Thanks very much, Caroline for talking to us today about Adelaide and about the events that are happening. I think you mentioned, since you are in the Hub Sydney Space, you wanted to give us a brief virtual tour.
Caroline: Yes. For the moment we’re in a pop up mode, so it’s kind of, I’m beginning to say, we’ll going to show you around. This is all our community here. You can see people co-working on different desks. We’ve got some great meeting spaces over here as well, opportunities for people to both hang out, work quietly an independently or even work alongside that kid, so that’s one starting about, starting to wave, so they’re waving to the camera. Yes, it’s all working pretty amazing here in Hub Sydney in our pop up mode. Our evening party is next week. Its great lesson here, that way we can create even better community done in Hub Adelaide.
Nick: Awesome. Congratulations with getting Hub Sydney open. It looks like it’s starting to get some people in there, which is fantastic and looking forward to Hub Adelaide opening later in the year. Thanks again for talking to us today, Caroline and have a good one.
Caroline: My pleasure. Thank you.
See all of the upcoming events at our calendar: www.adelaidebusinessevents.com.au
What is a blog? Why have a business blog? What should you write about? How to form a strategy? Who should write it?
We’ve talked about blogging a few times on the show before but we haven’t really addressed what it is and how you should do it. In this week’s episode I chat to Nicole Leedham from Black Coffee Communication to answer those questions.
Video[media url=”http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6VEWpU_EthQ” width=”560″ height=”315″] [spoiler title=”Transcription” open=”0″ style=”1″]
Nick: Good day everyone. Welcome back to Web Marketing Adelaide. I’m your host Nick Morris and today we are talking about blogging. This is a subject that we’ve broached with various shows in Content Marketing, WordPress. We haven’t really got to the nuts and bolts about what blogging is and how to blog and why to blog. So, this week, I’ve invited a guest on, Nicole Leedham from Black Coffee Communications and she’s gonna help us explain and explore this topic. Good day Nicole, welcome to the show.
Nicole : Hi Nick, thanks for having me. It’s great to have a talk with you.
Nick: Before we get started on the questions, how about you tell us a little bit about yourself, about your business?
Nicole: Sure, I am the person behind Black Coffee Communication and really, I guess the best way of explaining it is to say that I’m a writer for hire. So, I do all kinds of different writing, mapping writing, blogging, news letters, annual reports, cover profile you know, everything from the smallest flyer up to the multi-faceted projects. So, as long as I can write, I’m happy. I do a little bit of communication strategy as well but it’s mainly the writing.
Nick: Great, and we’ll start simple with this topic so that we can capture everybody, from the beginners up to the people who have a little bit more experience. So, let’s get started with what is a blog?
Nicole: A blog is a part of your website that isn’t static, I guess is the first thing. I think it is the first thing, that your other pages tends to be static pages whereas your blog it allows you to do new posts in it and it runs a bit like a diary. I mean blog is short for web blog so, it’s a captains log, a ship diary, something that you keep up updating reasonably regularly on a particular subject matter. I guess that’s the easiest way I can put it.
Nicole: It doesn’t have to be writing. It can be photos, it can be little things you found on the web. It can be jokes, it can be all sort of things. It’s just updated regularly.
Nick: Yeah and also it can be for business obviously as well.
Nick: Even the original idea behind it is a diary type thing and could also be for business.
Nicole: I think you know, it’s still a diary even if you use it for a business because you are doing it regularly and you’re putting your personality into it, even if it’s a business, there is the personality behind the business.
Nick: Cool, and what are posts? I mean, you mentioned posts a second there.
Nicole: Well, the blog itself is all of the articles in one thing. The posts are the individual articles, so for example, with my blog I post once a week. Each week there is a new post, which is really a different word for article or entry.
Nick: Great. We’ve talked a little bit on the show about WordPress before and this is my blogging platform of choice and a lot of other people’s. Is this yours as well?
Nicole: Yeah, I use WordPress. My health site the WordPress site with the blogging part of it and most of my clients are also using WordPress. The few of them that use their own CMS and have it, you know, I just use the Word version of it and I upload it and I have also worked with another one called Square Space, which a few people swear by. It’s not quite well known as WordPress but it is quite a nice platform as well and easy. It’s an easy platform, so, I guess that’s the main thing. It doesn’t have quite so much adaptability outside of blogging as WordPress does, so, I like WordPress.
Nick: Yeah, me too. Is Square Space, is that another open source type of platform or is it like a …?
Nicole: Yeah. Now, as far as I know, it’s an open source platform. I know a couple of designers that swear by it and I know a few people that have built their own websites on Square Space. So, if even people that have said to me, oh, WordPress, I could never understand WordPress and I could do Square Space, which to me, is quite interesting because I find WordPress very easy but I guess it depends how different brain works.
Nick: Yeah. What are some of the benefits of doing blogging? Why should people do it or be considering it?
Nicole: To me, the benefits of blogging is two fold. The first one is the Google, so I’ll talk about that one first and the search engine optimization. The way it was described to me, which I thought was a really clever way of describing it, is to think of Google as a huge spider web and it sends out spiders regularly across the internet to check out all the different websites out there. Now, if they don’t have any fresh content, it doesn’t even bother reporting back to Google. So, Google doesn’t even really know it exist. Fresh content makes them run, scurry back to their web and tell Google that there’s this fresh content out there. So, that’s the first way of doing it and it is also a really good way of getting your keyword in regularly without keyword stuffing and without overdoing at it and making your website look good for Google but not so good for humans and I think there’s a balance between that.
The other reason, which is the main reason I blog, is that a lot of small businesses and micro businesses don’t have a huge amount of marketing budget, so what they can do, is set themselves up as, what I call a subject matter expert. So, you blog about what you know about, you blog about your niche. People start seeing you as “Oh, that’s Nick Morris, he knows about SEO’s. I’ll go to him” So, they may not actually need your services now but when they do need your services, you’re a friend of mine because I’ve read your blog and I can see that you know what you’re talking about and I don’t think that necessarily has to just be for service providers like you and I. I think that can also be the hairdressers, you know. You talk about the latest trend or you speak about celebrities hair cuts and things like that. Builders can talk about the projects they’re working on and what they’ve done to make it a little different than the next builders project. So, I don’t think that’s just for the service industry, I think if you run a small business, you’d know your industry. So, make sure your clients know that too or a potential client.
Nick: Yeah, that one is an interesting one. I often wonder about product businesses, I mean, I guess if you have some sort of expertise, you’ve got something you can talk about but does it translate to product based businesses as well?
Nicole: It really depends on the product and it depends on why you are doing the product based business. If you are doing, if you run a product based business because you are passionate about the product, then I think you can definitely blog. If you are running a product based business because you are passionate about retail and it’s a good way to earn a living, maybe it’s a little harder. I mean, for example, you know, I know a couple of people that run online for children’s shops, educational toys and things like that. So, their blog is about not necessarily the toys but parenting as a whole and bringing play into education and how their products can help and without pushing the products constantly but every now and again on their blog.
Once every four or five posts, they might have a little thing that says, we’ve talked in this post about separation, anxiety and this is a really great toy to send your kid off to preschool with because it gives them a bit of an understanding that you are gonna be back and all of that sort of stuff. So, I think you can do it as a product based business. I mean, really, it depends on how passionate you are about your product and what it offers. It goes back to the same thing that any business you talk about the benefits, not the features. So, if you can blog about the benefits of your product or the benefits of your product line as a whole, so you might sell hats, and sunscreen and shade cloth. So, you talk about protection from the sun, rather than just about, I sell this. You don’t want your blog to be a platform to push your product.
Nick: Yeah, that is a good tip there. What are some of the benefits of using a blog for collecting your articles as opposed to just putting up new pages , for instance on your website?
Nicole: For a start, it means people know where to go. They can see that you’ve got blog written on your website, so they know that’s where the most current stuff is. It’s also good for your website architecture, I mean adding extra pages just makes the website incredibly unwieldy, whereas, you can put all the blogs on the one page with the posts. I think it also goes back to that subject matter expert thing. I mean sure, you can do static, parked pages about your product and all of that but it doesn’t bring the personality through like a blog can and these days, I think people like to see the personality behind the business, even a reasonably large business. They like to see the personality behind the face, if it fits with their morals and ethics and all of that sort of thing.
Nick: My next question is about coming up with ideas on stuff to blog about and you did mention in your introduction that you do blogging for other businesses as well as for yourself, so, you obviously have the experience with coming up with ideas for different industries and different types of businesses and things like that. Do you have some tips for how to come up with ideas for what to write about?
Nicole: Like anything else, I think research is a big part of it obviously, a few particular niche, do some Googling, look around the web, see what other people are writing about. It’s a really good idea to have a strategy behind your blogging, so, spend time to sit down and have a look maybe three or six months in advance if you want to blog weekly, how to think about what is coming up in that week. Let’s say, for example you’re a beautician, you know Valentines Day is a certain time every year, so you’re gonna schedule a blog post, something to do with Valentines Day there. In Winter, you might schedule blog post about how to keep your skin from getting dry in Winter, so it’s about having a strategy about knowing who your target audience is, knowing where they get their motivation from and how they might be interested in knowing what keywords they’re using when they are Googling and incorporating notes into your blog. So, for me, when I do it for someone else and I obviously have to get into their head, the strategy is where it’s all at.
I spend the most time with them, having a chat about all of those things and then coming up with a strategic plan and a calendar, which includes things like the keywords we’ll be targeting, the days we’re going post, the seasons or things that are coming up and then once you’ve got that behind you, once you’ve spent the time necessary on that, the extra blogging comes very easily. I mean, obviously, I’m a writer, writing companies will see me. Even if you’re not a writer, I think the blogging itself, will come reasonably easy. You already know what you’re gonna blog about, you already know who you are speaking to, you already know your keyword, so, just start random. Don’t worry about grammar, don’t worry about spelling, don’t worry about anything, just dump it and come back to it and fix that all up any time after.
Nick: Yeah, great tips. On the note of coming up with ideas, so you talk about strategy, is it good to have a content calendar? I mean, you mentioned [Inaudible 00:12:31] on it?
Nicole: I think it is a good idea to have a content calendar. I think you can probably, it needs to be flexible because there are certain things that happen every time of the year. There are times when it’s worth getting into what might be happening in the news and let’s say for example, you install solar panels and there was all those issues a year or so ago with fires in roofs or something with the solar panels. You get on to something new, where you use the keyword something like, safe solar panel installation at a time when people might be looking for safe solar panel installation and that will be your blog. They might read the other things, so for example, I have a little bit of an idea in my mind, what I do on my blog but I leave room and leave flexibility for certain things that happen. The things I can think of recently that PR marketing, Coms kind of related that I’ve blogged about it. I did something on the Spring Valley issue here in the Adelaide and how good their crisis communication was. I did something on the media culpability of that Nurse in England when Kate was in hospital and I did something on, I don’t know whether your viewers would remember back here 6 months ago. They tried to do a big site called click frenzy and the whole website fell down and their process of communication was not good. So, you need to leave room for that sort of thing so, you have an idea of what the generic blogging things are but then you need to leave space for things that are in the news, that people might find by Googling at that time.
Nick: Yep, yep, that makes sense, and also on strategy, do you have tips on how – you mentioned at the beginning one of the reasons for doing blogging is to set yourself up as the next expert of the subject matter but do you recommend that people also be finaling and directing people towards like a contact page or like a buy now page as well, to drive on traffic? And what is the best way to do that?
Nicole: I think you can certainly do that. I don’t recommend doing it in every single blog post because I think that becomes too obvious. I know people that do it and they swear by it at the very least they might get the internal links to Google rather than anyone actually clicking through to the links, so, I guess there’s that side. You get , whenever you have a website you are torn between what’s good for Google and what’s good for humans. So, I think yes, having that is very good for Google, I’m not entirely sure it’s good for humans and I guess it depends on what the purpose of your blog is. If the purpose of your blog at the end of the day, is to make sales, and to drive people to your sales pages, if that’s the way Google sees your sales pages, then that’s great.
If you are setting yourself up more as the subject matter expert, it doesn’t hurt to bring in something at the end that said and you know if you want widgets, you can buy them from us, but I don’t necessarily think it needs to be done every time and you can do it in a reasonably soft way. So, instead of buy, buy, buy, buy, buy, it can be if you want more information about how this widget would help you do this contact us here rather than necessarily buy, buy, buy, it can be, if you want more information about how this sort of widget will help you do this, contact here, rather than necessarily, like I said, buy, buy, buy, sell, sell, sell. I think people are very jaded by that. Google, on the other hand is a different story, having the internal links as you know is great for Google. I tend to internally link to other blog pages or occasionally my package pages rather than having the big sell at the end of it.
Nick: Yep, that make sense and good to point out. I think it actually served the thing of what you’re trying to do with the blog is it the directly generating sales for more of the subject matter expert thing. I guess something else that often people seem to do with the blog is having a mailing list and try to encourage people to join that, as another maybe an in between some selling and just some other stuff. Do you do some of that stuff with your clients as well?
Nicole: I do. I think it’s a good idea to have a mailing list and have a strong mailing list and to drive people on to them. People out there that know a lot more about marketing than I do, talk about it’s all in the list, everything’s in the list, it’s all in the list, driving people to the list. A lot of people rely on say, their Facebook fans or their Twitter followers and think that, that’s all they need but I think even though social media things like blogging which, I guess, is a different form of social media, is to drive people to the list and I know a lot of people, they’ll do a blog and then they’ll do a monthly newsletter, which is a bit of a wrap up of the blog plus maybe a special deal plus maybe a couple of other great articles that they’ve found in their niche around the web.
So, it’s about integrating it all and yes, certainly trying to get people up on the list you know. If you are writing a blog and you’re doing it regularly and you do have a newsletter, then there’s no harm in every now and again in every post, saying, want more of this fantastic content in your inbox? Sign up now, have a bit of an incentive to sign up because everyone wants people signing up and you kind of go from there but your list is people that have actually shown an interest in your product, so you can’t go past that.
Nick: Awesome. Do you have some tips on promotion? Once you’ve already written some posts out there, how do we try and get them out to your audiences?
Nicole: The best way of promotion, apart from through your newsletter, if you are doing it and through the list, is social media, quite obviously. Whenever you do a post, you should certainly post it on your Facebook, send it through your Twitter page, Google Plus, how many just getting around Google Plus but it’s a good platform for that as well and depending on your audience LinkedIn is really good as well. Certainly for me, as a service industry, the target is business. LinkedIn is my best place to put my links in and again it’s not just the who might be driven there from the social media platforms but it’s also Google. Google sees the link, the more valuable links that you’ve had and with Google Plus, that Google is seeing those links, more than seeing other links quite obviously. I think certainly, business to business could use Google Plus quite well. So, that’s I mean that’s the thing.
Nick: Yep, so you’re posting out on your own social profile, do you think people should also be posting it in other social places like Google, not Google, Facebook groups, business groups, their member zone?
Nicole: Yeah, I certainly do that as well. You do it just on your profile but also in the groups, in the communities that you are a member of, the LinkedIn groups, Facebook groups, Google Plus communities. You need to be clever about it because quite often, the same people are in a lot of those different groups, so you don’t want to spam them. Say, for example that you’ve written something about gardening for example. You wouldn’t necessarily put that in a group, just a group of copywriters, which in a couple of LinkedIn groups and also Google Plus groups. I mean you wouldn’t necessarily put that there but you would put it in say a broader, small business group. So I think it’s being clever about where you put it. I know, one of the things that drive me most insane about social media, is the people that just post the same thing everywhere and it starts looking a lot like spam. I think you have to be careful and clever, again I post weekly, I don’t share every single post in every single group because I figure people will get really, really sick of me after a while with that.
Nick: Cool, yeah. So you want to take advantage of these platforms but don’t go too far that it looks like spam because it’s gonna start working against you.
Nicole: That’s right and you know you can re-purpose them as well because there’s a lot of places out there that take guest post as well and quite often, I re-purpose my more popular blog, change them slightly, keep the same but change them slightly for two reasons. One, that people don’t want to read exactly the same thing twice and two, Google doesn’t see exactly the same thing twice but you can re-purpose them and send them off to places that accept guest blogs in your niche and I do a little bit of guest blogging around the place and it’s another good way to drive traffic to your website. In fact, I’ll say it’s like, that if you can’t be bothered doing or you don’t have time or you don’t have the resources or you don’t think you can think of enough topic to do to blog yourself, consider guest blogging in popular blogs elsewhere. I mean don’t just guest blog anywhere but if you’ve got a popular website in your niche that attracts thousands of visitors a day, then try and see if you can guest blog there.
Nick: Great yes. So, that’s basically writing an article for someone else’s blog and then you have a little buy button at the bottom with a link back to your website, so people can go find out more about you. If they find you interesting and obviously got a link there as well for Google as we were talking about before. Let’s just talk a little bit about blogging for yourself as a business owner versus getting someone else like yourself to do the blogging. What are the pro’s and con’s of the two approaches?
Nicole: Well, look obviously the biggest pro of doing it yourself is you know your thing very well and you can probably do quite a good brain dump in there and even if you’re not a writer, you can get enough thoughts together to do something. I guess the con of that is that most business owners don’t have the time to do that and I think that if you’re not a writer or if you’re not, if you don’t love writing, I mean not everyone that loves writing is necessarily a writer but if it doesn’t come easy to you, then you’re gonna spend hours getting blood from a stone, when you could be doing something that’s more profitable that’s actually making money for your business.
One of the cons of hiring someone else is having the faith in them that they will speak for your business and they will do the right thing and say the right thing. You can do it in a couple of ways , you can hire them as a ghost writer I guess, in which case, they are writing and they are being you, in which case you need give a lot of information on your ethics and your personality and they need to get it out of you. They can also write as a guest or write at a more generic pace rather than eye piece. To me, that’s one of the biggest cons but if you do the early bit right, if you brief the writer well and if you’ve got a good strategy behind them, then they should be able to step into your shoes. You know, a good writer should be able to take a brief, understand the client and [Inaudible 00:25:03] and obviously the client gets the final say. I mean, until you get up to a really good relationship – I’ve got a couple of clients where I’ve got a very good relationship and I just post on their behalf without them necessarily clearing it but that is very rare and it’s after a long time of the relationship.
Nick: Great. Yeah. That’s some good tips there. That pretty much brings us towards the end of this interview. Do you have some perhaps if you could bring some of the threads together from the episode and some key takeaways for people, other business owners about blogging?
Nicole: Sure. There’s a few. The first thing that I really want to stress is that strategy. I think if you’re going to commit to weekly or monthly or whatever blog, you will pull your hair out, you suddenly get to, oh my God, it’s the day I meant to blog, I have no idea what I’m gonna do etc. So, I think taking that time like anything in business, spending that time to really plan, works out much better in the long run. The second thing that I want people to take away is don’t panic if you’re not a writer. I don’t think that is a problem. I mean, obviously you want to have it correct and reading well and all that at the end but anyone can do a big brain down, you know your thing. Do a big brain down on something and then go back to it. Don’t panic about not being a writer and really it doesn’t even have to be a lot of writing.
If you are a builder and you are doing a project, take a few photos of the project and just do captions. You don’t even really need to necessarily write reams and reams of copy and I guess, the third takeaway is promotion. There is no point writing if you then don’t follow through with the other things. I think it’s a unique time at the moment with take up of social media and with newsletters and emails and blogging platforms and how easy Word Press is and other CMS’s. Integrating them all has never been easier, so integrating your social media protocols with your newsletter with your blogging it’s the easiest thing in the world and that’s the way to promote and to drive people there.
I mean, if I look at my Google Analytic from my website and hopefully everyone that has a website has a Google Analytics on it and if they don’t, they should. It spikes every Tuesday, which is when I blog. It spikes from fairly nothing up into the hundreds sometimes. So, you can see that it’s worth it and even if all of those people don’t become clients, some of them do, a percentage of them do and Google saves it. So, that again, you’ve got that two things and quite often, when I get a call about a job from a potential client, their opening comment either by phone or email is, I’ve been reading your blog for a while and I’ve been meaning to contact you. You seem like the kind of Writer I want. So, even if it’s not immediate, even if you can’t see the immediate pay, persist.
Nick: Awesome. So, a good success story there to end on. Thanks very much for coming on the show, Nicole. It’s been fantastic having you and having this conversation about blogging. Where can people find out more about you and your business?
Nicole: Well, they can go to my website, which is a really long one but I’ll try. It’s www.blackcoffeecommunications.com.au or they can find me very easily on Facebook and on Google Plus and Twitter and all of that sort of stuff and I’d be happy to have a chat with them.
Nick: Well, I’ll put links to all those in the show on this episode to webmarketingadelaide.com.au and people can go check you out there.
Thanks again for coming to the show and have a good one.
Nicole: No problem. Thanks very much for inviting me Nick.[/spoiler]
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Delve into the BNI business networking model and how you can use it to grow your business
This week we have a great interview with Simon Derrick-Roberts, the regional director at BNI South Australia. BNI is a business networking organisation with 6,200 active chapters and 150,000 members in 50 countries, it is the most successful business referral organisation of its kind.
Interview with Simon Derrick-Roberts from BNI
Nick: Welcome back to the Web Marketing Adelaide broadcast. I am your host Nick Morris and this week, we are joined by Simon Derrick-Roberts from BNI and we are going to talk about BNI, which is a business networking, network international, business networking. Good day Simon welcome to the show.
Simon: Thanks for having me on Nick. Great to be here.
Nick: Let’s get started by having you tell us a little bit about yourself and a little bit about your role at BNI?
Simon: Yes, sure. So, I started my BNI journey as a rank and file member just over three years ago. I actually spoke with the local business enterprise center CEO, his name is Mike Hawkins. I asked him to tell me what are the networking opportunities that were available in my area. I spent that time working as a Business Development Manager for a cloud computing custom software Development Company based in Adelaide and also looking to connect with other business professionals, IT professionals, business consultants etc., who could refer me in to the clients that I was looking to tap in to. So yeah Mike put me on to BNI and it was interesting the very first time I went to a meeting.
We had actually, we were meeting at a pub, we were locked out of the venue, so it wasn’t a great first impression. We were stuck in the courtyard at the Britannia Hotel but I just felt that the people that were at the meeting were a much higher caliber than what I’ve bumped into at say, business SA, Chamber of Commerce, the local BEC. So, even though perception was it wasn’t a great first start, there was just something different about it, so that’s why I got involved at the ground level.
Nick: Cool, that’s a good little introduction. Moving on from that, what is BNI exactly? I mean obviously, it’s business networking but can you give us a little bit more information?
Simon: BNI is about doing your personal referral network so the challenge that you have with a normal networking group is that when you walk up, there might be three telecommunication guys in the room, five mortgage brokers, two real estate agents etc. So, you’re at one of these events, there’s normally more people there you know. There might be anywhere from 40 up to 100 but your competitors are in the room and probably the other challenge is and I actually was attending an event a couple weeks ago.
I was asked to speak for a few minutes at something we call the Networking Disconnect. I’ve never tried this exercise myself before but I asked the room, you know please raise your hand if you’re here to sell. So, every single hand, its about 35 to 40 people in the room, every single hand went up. So, they were all there to sell and then I asked the question, “Now c’mon guys, be honest, how many of you are here to buy?” Well two hands kind of half went up a little bit ashamed at least, so that’s the disconnect that everyone’s there to sell, no one’s genuinely there to buy so the idea with BNI is your competitors aren’t in the room. So, that’s one advantage and you’re actually there to sell through the people in the room, so they tap into their network of the 2 or 300 people sitting behind each other person in the room, rather than to sell to the 30 people in the room, if that makes sense.
Nick: Yeah, that makes sense. You mentioned other networking groups, what are the main, sort of differentiators between BNI and others of regular networking groups apart from obviously as you say compared to that in the room? There are other networking events I’ve sort of become aware of it, operates in a similar where they can only accept one of each industry and things like that. Are there any other major differences or for instance, do you think other networking events can still be effective for getting business?
Simon: Yeah, absolutely although you generally, look, it depends on what industry are you in. If you are a florist, you know it’s a fairly low risk transaction, so someone who’s only just met you might try you out and spend $50 or $100 bucks. What could possibly go wrong. If you are an accountant, really your goal should be to make two or three meetings for contacts on the night, have some good conversation and then follow-up for coffee afterwards. So, we actually encourage our members to be involved in other networking groups.
We think they should be active, depending on their target market Facebook and or LinkedIn in various conversation groups there. They should be involved in at least one sort of Chamber of Commerce, you know those place you go, events just to build their contacts sphere. Also you should be involved in a service group if you are a community minded, you know Rotary. We have a lot of Rotarians and Lions Clubs members, I’m in Lions myself.
So yeah, but what we don’t want for our members is that they are involved in one of those other groups that you talked about, which are similar to BNI, in that there are about referrals or leads and there is only one person per profession in the room because if the great opportunity comes across my desk for a real estate agent, then I’ve got divided loyalties, who do I give it to? So, it’s great for me, I’m tapping into two separate groups of people that again find me referrals but it’s not very fair to the other people in the room because of those divided loyalties.
Nick: Yeah that makes sense. Let’s hear a little bit more about how it actually works on the day when you go along to these events and how the referral system works and also what’s the cost behind this?
Simon: Sure, ok. So I’ll handle the cost side first if that’s alright then we’ll come back to how it works because how it works is a little bit like getting a haircut. It’s very hard to explain and get the result unless you’re actually there. So, cost wise, first thing, we’ll talk about the value. So, last year in Australia, the average return from member, obviously there is some that’s way over, some that didn’t do very well but the average return because we test and measure everything in BNI and that’s probably one of our points of differences over the similar organizations that have one person profession. The average return was $47,000 Australia wide. In Adelaide, it was around $43,000 last year for the average member. So, the cost involved, there’s an annual membership fee which is $730 next year’s fee and there is also once of joining fee of $340 next year’s fee. So, in your first year it’s $11,077 including tax and that’s less than a cup of coffee a day. I think it works out, being divided by 365 its $3.20 a day. So, if you weigh up the returns obviously you’ve got to put in some time and effort. You don’t just magically get 43 grand or 47 grand just because you’ve signed a piece of paper but cost benefit analysis is a fairly good return on investment.
Nick: Absolutely. I can see if you’re only putting in $1,000 or $750 for later years and then getting $43,000, that seems like a pretty good return.
Simon: Yeah and every year, sorry, what was the first part of that question again? So I jumped in…
Nick: That’s fine. I was just trying to get a bit of an idea how it works in the day. If it’s hard to explain maybe you can give us a brief overview.
Simon: I’ll give you a very brief overview. Somebody run a structured 40 point agenda that’s designed to facilitate building their profile and trust levels within the room, so basically proves that you are credible because if you are a real estate agent, not everyone in that room in a given 12 months period is going to be out to personally try your services. In fact, if one or two of them can, that’s great but again that’s what we’re about. We’re about selling through the people in the room. So the 40 point agenda is designed to let you show up, present your business in a very positive way, probably the key points of the meeting. We actually make a request for specific referral every week. So, depending on the size of your group you normally deliver a 60 second presentation, where you might talk about a recent job you’ve been working on and then you are ask for something quite specific.
If you’re business to business, you might name a particular person, their position in the company, the company, the industry etc. If you work business to community, business to consumer, sorry, you might describe a key life situation. So, if you are a travel agent, you might be talking about someone who’s just gotten engaged because they’re gonna start thinking about their honeymoon. So, we make a specific referral request. Each of the members during the meeting and then towards the end of the meeting, we actually pass the referrals that we did during the week, we actually record at a transaction level and it goes into the database, the referrals that we passed.
Any referrals we received previously that have translated into business, we actually tracked the value of the business received. That’s how we can tell you how that $43,000, who’s the average return for the Adelaide member last year, but I think the key point for building credibility in the room, as I said, not everyone is gonna try your service. But if one of the members has personally used you or they’ve referred you to one of their contacts and you’ve done a fantastic job, what they all generally do was read out a testimonial, either written by themselves or by that client and then they normally give you that in written forms, so you can put it in your websites or your Facebook pages etc. So, the point is, if that person then endorses you, the people in the room, they might be pretty close with 5 or 6 of the other members who therefore, because you know Bob’s endorsed you. They feel comfortable then referring you to their contacts, as well, if that makes sense. So, the testimonial is the key element.
Nick: Cool, yeah. That’s a pretty good little overview and I like the fact that you’ve all shared that testimonial angle as well, sort of goes beyond just kind of the networking itself but also things like testimonials you can put on your website. So, as you said, which can help people when they’re kind of related in this word of mouth but it’s an additional thing as well as just the networking itself. Just to make sure I got the process down, it sounds like you’re collecting referrals to give to the other people in the group when they come along each week you meet up?
Simon: Yes. We meet weekly generally. We don’t meet up on holidays, you know, if we have a break over Christmas, we generally meet 47, 48 times a year. So, there is a commitment involved but we’ve tried over the 28 year history, we’ve tried other models fortnightly, monthly but we found there was a clear relationship between the frequency of meeting and the amount of business past. One thing I should probably get clear on, if I have a BNI meeting and it’s a Thursday morning and an opportunity comes up to refer business to a Thursday afternoon, I don’t wait until the next Thursday morning to tell the member. Obviously referral’s like milk, they go off pretty quickly so you contact the member straight away but we do the paper work so we can put it into the database each meeting, that makes sense.
Nick: Yah, I was wondering about that a bit. So, you would have the business cards and the contact information of other people in the group that you sort of network with and then when you get that referral, you send it straight through to them and then you document that when you come each week for your meeting?
Simon: Absolutely that is right. Members carry a card holder, although that’s a bit old school these days, so often the referrals wait until the opportunity comes up over the phone or something, so we might send through an e-card or MMS the members date house to the prospect. The key is, so that would just be a lead. The difference between a qualified referral and a lead is we also seek permission from the prospect to have the member call them within the next day and that’s the case. There’s no sitting there waiting for that phone call that never comes in you know. If you just give a business card probably 95% of the time, you never receive that call, not that they’re not genuinely in the market but they just get busy and they get distracted, so we want to empower our members with the opportunity to follow up the prospect.
Nick: Absolutely yeah, that makes sense and I can definitely relate to getting busy and not getting on to things, I was meaning to call this person or whatever, so, that make sense.
Nick: Let’s move on. I’ve heard some really great things about BNI, I think the first time I heard about it I was at another networking event. Some of it said that they have joined up and then I had to leave within the first three months. They had so much business that they couldn’t take on anymore. It’s an amazing thing to say but I think I’ve heard bits and pieces from other people around the place. So, what do you think is it that has people so, sort of excited about the BNI model even, I mean obviously getting a lot of business is good. Is that just work that way well or is there other things that’s making them getting so excited?
Simon: I think obviously most people are there for the business opportunity. I should be careful about using that sort of language because it might make people think we’re pyramid scheme or multi -level marketing which, absolutely we’re not. There is no kick backs or commissions or anything like that for members introducing another member into the group but most people are there to make money. In fact, really, we want people who are there motivated to make money because we’re founded on the principle of giver’s gain, so what goes around comes around. So, yes, what happens, you end up in a room of 30 to 40 like minded business professionals in a generally go getter types, that are hungry to get work, therefore, they know they’ve got to be hungry to find opportunities. And it’s always quite rewarding when you make an introduction to a family member, a client, whatever and the jobs, you’ve solved their problems.
It’s outside of your personal, professional sphere but you’ve actually made an introduction that solved their problems. So, I think people get a good, warm and fuzzy feeling about that but also because we’re really a training organization. We provide a lot of training at no cost to our members as part of their membership fees so it gives them access to the system but also the training we provide by face to face, one on one, group workshop format and online. We have a 24/7 online training portal as well. So, some people joined for the professional development and you can see that you see members that have been in 3 months, 6 months, 5 years and they’ve really grown as an individual.
You know their public speaking, their confidence etc. So, there are other reasons why people get excited about BNI but it could at the end of the day, most of us that are there are there to increase the bottom line. And I guess people get excited because I figure it is a good return on their time. It’s far more effective than a lot of the other, what I call pay as you go networking events like Adelaide word of mouth etc. There’s some good stuff out there but it doesn’t always translate into good business opportunities, not to say that you shouldn’t do it. As I’ve mentioned before, we recommend members that are involved with other networking groups.
Nick: Awesome, yeah that makes sense. Just a thought on one point, you said there is no kickbacks or commissions [Inaudible 00:15:25] separated differently from any kind of scheme, anything, in that way. Are people expected, is there an expectation on number of referrals you need to bring along, I think you said before, you should try to bring one to each meeting. Is that like an exchange almost, like you should be matching the number of those you get, sort of thing?
Simon: Sure, sure. Look, what goes around comes around, so, if each member in the room is looking to make $50,000, $70,000 a year on average of their return. That means every member in the room needs to bring $50,000 to $70,000 worth of business opportunities to the table as well. So, but BNI’s definitely we’re [Inaudible 00:16:00] to contact sport. We want players, not spectators. So, passengers can actually or each chapter has its own vibe and culture, some chapters do better than others. We’ve got an established chapters that’s been going for about seven or eight years, that meets on Melbourne Street every Friday morning.
They have shared this calendar year and I think that $720,000 worth of business so far. So, that’s referrals that have actually translated into business and we’re not even 4 months to the year. So, the point is, they don’t tolerate passengers, they have high expectations and they hold their members accountable. So, they hold their members accountable and each member makes a commitment and members allow themselves to be held accountable by their fellow members because they’re a high performing chapter. Their results are entered. Did I answer your question? I got a bit side tracked there.
Nick: No, no, that’s alright. I think that’s good, it’s good for people to know that upfront as well that they’re gonna be expected to, the system won’t work if you don’t bring facts onto tables as well as take, you can’t just take, take, take.
Simon: Absolutely, each chapter must have its own goal. Most chapters set a target in terms of those target. Most of them wont set a goal higher that one referral per member per week cause then they’re in danger of lowering the quality of the referrals and you straying into leads territory and what we’d rather do is have a member, when they receive a referral notice, there’s a reasonable change of making a couple of thousand dollars out of that rather than you receiving a piece of confetti that that’s probably worthless.
Nick: Yeah, I think that’s a good point. You mentioned chapters in there, I think I’ll just ask on that point. So, obviously, there’s different chapters within the city I guess and I guess chapters come up when there is enough demand to open up a new chapter? Is that sort of how it works?
Simon: Yeah, that’s absolutely right because we only allow one person per profession. We have unmet demand in Adelaide right now, so we had, the start of last year we had two BNI chapters. By the end of the year, we’d launched the third, they both met in North Adelaide actually and I was a member of one of those chapters that launched about 3 years ago, as I mentioned. So, we launched a chapter in the Marian Aquatic Center, the new aquatic center down there, fantastic venue and that was because of the firstly unmet demand in the Southern and Western suburbs. We then launched two more chapters at the start of this year, one in the Deeps [Audio breaks 00:18:36] area of the for Christy’s Beach.
They made up this surf like serving club down there. There’s some serious wow factor going down to that, it makes going down there bright and early worth it when you see all the ocean views because you are right on the espionade on the second floor and also launched very rapidly, I had a great group of people, some of them had quite a corporate background. So, it got a different culture to some of the other chapters that seem to be built more around the real estate and trades more than the professional services, financial services but we launched a group that meets on Green Hill Road on Parkside and they’re a great group. In the first four weeks together, those 30 people shared over $96,000 worth of business, which for a new group is quite unusual, actually because you’ve got to build up that trust before you put your credibility on the line, making a new introduction to your best client for example. That’s a high risk referral, so they have done a really good job.
Nick: Wow, yeah. Well, if someone is looking to join BNI or join a chapter, is it best for them to go straight to the chapter themselves or do they come to BNI and you sort of tell them because it sounds a little bit like it may be beneficial for people to go to a chapter that sort of fits their culture a little bit better rather than perhaps, closest one?
Simon: You’re absolutely right. In fact, me, as Mr. BNI, I don’t determine who your team to be, some have got five chapters. They’re actually self governed ones, they are off the ground you know. I provide training support but they have a membership committee who is really the HR department and the recruitment department. So, they are the gate keepers of the chapters too. So someone, we had an example of a fantastic guy who is helping me launch a chapter in the CBD. At the moment, we are doing our first meeting next week but he came along to this chapter. I just mentioned that he shared in the $96,000 because they are actively, he’s in recruitment.
They’re actively seeking recruitment agent but when we sat down with their membership committee, they realized even though it was a successful group, just culturally, he wasn’t the right fit, but he’s a great fit for BNI, which is why he’s helping me out putting together with four other guys who are really in the same head space as him and so they’re gonna be a powerful chapter as well but Michael wouldn’t have fitted in as well at the Green Hill Road chapter. I guess by mutual decision, I realized yeah, this is not for you. Now, obviously CBD is pretty close but yeah, if they hadn’t have been available to him, we might have sent him down to Marian or Christy’s Beach if he was prepared to travel that extra distance to find the right groups for him.
Nick: And does BNI actively do some advertising things to get new members and new people involved or is it more just a word mouth thing?
Simon: Yeah, look, as we are a word of mouth organization, we wouldn’t be more credible if we used the Yellow Pages, tv, radio. Look it has been tried, Portugal’s one of the fastest growing BNI regions in the world and they did use tv advertising, a guy in Tasmania that looks after Hobart in the Southern, think it’s a Southern half of Tasmania. He’s tried some radio advertising. I’m not sure what the results have been, but really, the way, 90% of people get involved in BNI is that they get invited along to attend a meeting by someone in their network. Now, sometimes the meeting they go and see, they’re actually locked out of that meeting, so I’ve got a friend who works for Telsra and he’s just really passionate about BNI. He is getting some bright results. He’s meeting at a North Adelaide chapter but his network is in the Western suburbs, so he takes friends and colleagues along to his meeting in North Adelaide. Now, they can’t actually join that North Adelaide chapter because their profession, that seat’s already been filled. What he does is, he redirects them down to a new chapter we’re launching at West Lake, which is suitable culturally and location wise for them but yeah absolutely, he takes them to see his meetings because he’s proud. He figures his chapter is a showcase you know. They have done $720,000 of business in less than 4 months and these people like what they see. They locked out, so Yvonne will help them as a sort of an introduction to me, so I can get them having a look at the West Lake group, make sure they’re happy with the people in that room.
Nick: Awesome, and is the BNI model suited to different types of businesses, like for instance B to B versus B to C or particular industries, maybe like product based industries versus service based industries?
Simon: Look, we know that BNI can work for absolutely any business but it won’t work for every person. Again, we want people who are results oriented, they’re hungry, they’re willing to put in a little bit of time and effort because they understand that what goes around comes around you only get in, you only get out what you put in I should say. Look, we do know that there are particular, I guess professional fees that can do very well out of BNI. We find it is usually service based industries, we’re always seeing very strong industry representation in the real estate and the trade sector, that’s from the backbone and then you’ll see generally a third of the membership base of any chapter is in that real estate and trade area.
So, the real estate agent can feed the mortgage broker, who can feed the conveyance, who can feed the property manager, who feeds all the traders with the maintenance work etc. and also you get, usually you don’t see volume builders involved in BNI but you might get those high end builders who have a premium product because if you place an ad in the Yellow Pages or the messenger, you’re competing on price. Normally, when someone, if it’s pre-sold advertising they are genuinely in the market to buy when they ring, but they’re gonna ring some of your competitors, they generally shop on price. If you are someone who competes on value, not on price you need an unfair advantage of your competitions, so you need that foot in the door the person’s recommendation. So, the builders we tend to see involved, might only do ten homes a year because their homes are half a million dollars.
We will also see looks strong representation those business services and financial services so commercial lending, financial planning, personal risk insurance, general insurance brokers, business coaches, marketing consultants etc. Now, one area that we’re starting to see development in Adelaide is the health and wellbeing, so we’re getting chiropractor, physiotherapist, massage therapist, nutritional products, people like that involved in most chapters. Where we’re not strong in Adelaide currently, but I’ve seen it in the Eastern States, they called it the wedding mafia, so it’s the event planning type profession. So, you’ll see wedding celebrants, you’ll see gift baskets, bouquets, which cook can also go into corporate use. You can see people who can organize entertainment etc. So, that’s a weakness or an opportunity in Adelaide that’s, currently we really don’t have many people in the wedding and event planning type sector. Photographers would be the exception. We’ve got a photographer in virtually every group. In fact, every group I think.
Nick: So, photographers are on top of this obviously but there is a bit of opportunity for some other people in there, the wedding area and also in many other areas as you went through there I think. It seems like this quite broad and as you said, you have to be willing to give in, get back what you put in sort of thing and there is an opportunity for lots of different things there, which is good. With the BNI models, I mean, you mentioned a little bit at the beginning, do you encourage members to use LinkedIn and social media. Has the rise of digital and social media, has that changed much the way you do business? I guess because it’s essentially you are meeting in person and that’s still the major part of it. I guess the core hasn’t changed that much or…?
Simon: Yeah look, we’re still all about face to face contact, however, some of our members particularly our under 35s are starting to use social media to actually put it out there, so, using social media to generate interest in getting visitors to come along and see the meetings. They’re also responding to requests through LinkedIn groups. Someone might, I’ve seen it myself, say hey, do you know a good business coach in the Central areas and someone that’s connected with them or is involved in that group who’s also in BNI would then speak with the person online and maybe they can find a referral out of that.
We actually have a fantastic member Colts [Inaudible 00:27:28] Douglas, I don’t know if you know of his social media IOK. She’s now the Vice President of that top performing chapter in Melbourne Street and she’s working with me, we’re actually going to be rolling out a social media strategy from July of this year and providing additional training as well as. Leaders, initially, as I said each chapter self-governed and then hopefully in 2014, if we can prove the models valuable, then we’ll be rolling it out to a general membership. I think the key is, any training we provide in BNI, it’s not just BNI training. Much of it is transferable for people to use in their own business.
Nick: Cool, yeah. I have also come across someone. She’s very active in the Adelaide Business Central Facebook group which BNI came up again that’s what made me get in contact with you, so I’m reminded of BNI through her so, obviously, it’s working, the social media stuff from that perspective. One other question here….
Simon: I just gonna say, so we do test and measure everything. Simone is one of the top three members in Adelaide. She’s using social media as you have seen widely, so there is probably something in that. So, Simone and I obviously need to talk more.
Nick: Cool, yeah, absolutely. I just have one question on members, which I didn’t address before which is, most members tend to be there for the long time or is there a bit of a turn over there? What can you give me on that?
Simon: Absolutely. As I said, BNI doesn’t work for everyone. Now, our membership committees are the gate keepers so, we had a reasonably extensive interview and follow up process to make sure that people are the right fit because we don’t want to damage the brand by having people come in with the wrong expectations and it just doesn’t work for them. So, we do find that about 15% of their membership will either not renew when their 12 months come to an end or they may even leave midterm, but we have members we have a painter in Simone’s chapter who has been a [Inaudible 00:29:38] I think, 7 or 8 years and we’ve got several members in her group that have been in for five years.
We just awarded some 3 year ribbons. So, you know it’s a great testimony to the system when someone has been in for that long but we also see people like you mentioned, that if – I actually gave referral to an HR consultant that was in my chapter. He left in his second year and he rang me up and was so apologetic but what I’ve given him has turned into a three day a week contract and with his other work, he simply couldn’t take on anymore business. Therefore, what is the point of turning up every week if he didn’t want to take anything on and he was too busy to give back to the group. He didn’t want to be a passenger. So, we do find that for the life circumstance or for business reasons, people leave. So, sometimes leaving is not a negative thing, it’s a positive thing.
Nick: Cool, yeah, great answer. With this question here, was something that sort of gave me pause, when I first heard of BNI and I touched on it a little bit but I’m asking it anyway, want to get a clear answer. So, one thing I felt I wasn’t too sure about was, I didn’t want to be giving, having an expectation to give referrals and sort of being pushed towards giving referrals to people what I know friends, family, other clients and people within my business networks and referring them to other businesses that I didn’t really know that well because I have only met them through the group and I hadn’t really had a chance to try out their services. What would you say to people that have this sort concern?
Simon: That would be probably the number 1 concern that people, well probably number 1 is the commitment because really, the money expected returns is rarely a consideration, so is that weekly commitment is a challenge for a lot of people and the next highest concern, is they don’t feel confident that they can bring referrals out, particularly because 5 or 10% of members we get might have been introduced to BNI by someone interstate. So, they don’t actually someone in the group they already trust because we talked before about the testimonials. Most people are invited into BNI group by someone they know and trust and so, if that person is happy to endorse another half dozen in the chapter, then as a new member, you’ll often give them a go because you trust your friend’s judgment.
As we touched on before, the real estate agent didn’t etc. isn’t going, you’re probably not gonna use this person’s service yourself. So you know, one thing in business and in life and such as BNI, a lot of business coaches would say this. How you do one thing is how you do everything, perception is reality for the person who is perceiving it, so one thing you can do is always bring your A game when you come to a meeting. Arrive early, plan to stay late, dress sharp, even if you are a trade, come prepared and people will start to think well, if they front up to BNI meeting with that mindset and attitude, then they’re probably gonna front up to a meeting with a client, at least if not with a higher setting. Now, we also know that as a new member, you’re probably not give a lot of referrals in your first 2 or 3 months, so we have a system that sits behind BNI, which is designed to help people build their credibility within the group. We called it the BCTP process. So, firstly, you need to be visible but then you need opportunities to build your credibility because as you know if you give a referral and it doesn’t go well, it falls back on you. So, you need to trust the person you’re passing the referral to, so everything on that 40 point agenda and the other components of the system that for the rest of the week outside of the weekly meeting, I designed for the members to be able to build their trust and credibility levels within the group even if most of the members can’t personally use their service.
So, we say so probably the higher the average value of the transaction of your product or service, the more risk to the referrer. So, you would probably, if you join the group Nick, feel reasonably comfortable if you give the referral to that Florist that we talked about before cause you know $5,000 you know, okay maybe the flowers were slightly brown around the edges but it’s probably not gonna kill your credibility with your best client but you know if it was an introduction into the accountant and I stuffed it up, that would be really bad for you. So you’re absolutely not expected to start passing referrals on day 1, particularly those high value ones. So, it’s up to the other members, they actually put in the time and effort so that you feel comfortable referring business to them.
Nick: Cool yeah that’s a great answer and you did answer it a little bit before but it’s not that sort of in a package there. Just on the back of that then, do you have any tips for people on how they can get the most out of BNI just things that you can give to my listeners?
Simon: I would say I’ve touched on some of them. Don’t be late because we say that you know we’ve got a yes bucket and a no bucket sitting on your shoulder at all times with your BNI members, so if you woke up late to a meeting and people notice it, are they thinking, is he gonna walk up late when I introduce him to my client? If you come in if looking like you just rolled out of bed, what are they thinking? Most of our meetings are 7am by the way. So, again if you’re a tradee and you wrapped up your painter for example Jeff never walks up in his overalls with paint stains on them and dusty boots.
He’s always in a nice logoed shirt with slacks because he’s trying to set that right perception. He wants introduction into property managers and boutique builders and so forth, so he needs to position himself so everything’s aligned. So, that’s one thing, you know, dress for success and think about all those little 1% that are gonna affect people’s perception of you. Absolutely, look, please embrace all the training we have to offer. As I said, the training is free, I put to caveat on that. Members always pay towards venue high and catering cost but the actual content that we deliver, there’s no, we don’t get paid an extra fee for you actually accessing the training, so embrace the training opportunities. Speak with the experienced members in the group, you know they’ll provide some 1 on 1 mentoring and support the other thing is and this probably the number 1 thing don’t just be a 90 minute a week member because you will not succeed. So, we have a 90 minute structured meeting every week but you need to actually be doing some activity outside the meeting. We think you should be putting in 3 to 5 hours a week, probably no more that that because a lure of diminishing returns but we encourage you to go out 1 on 1 and meet the other members in their work place. And in return, they want to do the same for you.
If members asked for specific introductions, you should take note of that and maybe a day or two after the meeting you might not have triggered something in memory at the time but just review those notes and actually I don’t know this from xyz company but I know their biggest competitor. In fact, they’re a client of mine, ring up the member, hey, I know you asked for Bob Jane, would you like an introduction to Bridgestone instead, that sort of thing. So, put in some time and effort outside of the meeting as well as being bringing your A game to every meeting that you attend.
Nick: Great yeah. Thanks for those tips. How can people find out more if they’re interested in getting sort of signing up for a chapter or just checking out a little bit more about it?
Simon: Yeah look, if they don’t have a friend or someone in their contact, they are free to personally introduce them to BNI because as I said it is always – I feel the best way, just like you approached me, you made an enquiry through BNI.com.au, through the website that they’ll get in contact with me. I’ll follow them up, normally with a phone call if they leave up their number and we’ll have a bit of a chat. I need to understand where they’re located, what profession they’re in, to know where they’re vacancies, and chances are, when they front up at that meeting you know, with 30 odd people in the room, usually they actually know someone in the room.
They might have not realized that there was a BNI member but they normally, they have someone that can take them under their wing because they’ve had that prior relationship, but if you don’t have someone, just do what you did, enquire through the website. I’ll get on to you within one business day, unless I’m traveling. So, I also manage BNI in Darwin but look they’ll hear from me within 2 to 3 business days, the absolute worst.
Nick: Great. So, if you know someone already who’s in BNI then you can get in through them or BNI.com.au for the link and I’ll show next on our website, how to get you in contact.
I think that pretty much brings me to the end of all the questions I had. Thanks very much Simon for coming on the show. Its been a really interesting sort of delve into this BNI thing that I’d heard about but I didn’t know all of what it was about, so I think the information you’ve given has been really great.
Simon: Fantastic and if you are interested to connect with me you connect with Simone and we can -you’ve never been to a meeting yourself right?
Nick: No, I haven’t. Just heard about it from the people on the call and I think it could be interesting.
Simon: It is probably worth even if it’s not for you, it’s probably worth two hours of your time, just to check it out and maybe go along to Simone to her group. It might be the best for you, as you got – is that a virtual relationship, or do you guys know each other face to face?
Nick: No, we’ve not interacted that much. I mean I saw this Adelaide business Central group but I came across it, anyone who’s curious and I’ll put a link in the show as well. It’s quite a big group it’s like 800 people and they’re all talking about different things and I just see Simone in there fairly often posting. We haven’t interacted personally that much so I don’t know her that well but it’s a good group to go to and meet people there. So, yeah thanks again for coming to the show and we’ll speak perhaps in the future?
Simon: Alright fantastic, really appreciate the opportunity. Thanks Nick.[/spoiler]