Presentation: Category Cowboys

I’ve been reading articles and listening to BNI podcasts about how to grow our chapter, how to get more members. Why should we grow? With more members, the energy level increases. The bigger the group, the more positive energy we would have, and a higher energy level attracts more people. Most importantly, we want to grow for the main the reason we are all here: more business, more money.

BNI head office tracks all this and they find that a group’s referrals and overall revenue grows as the membership increases. As the number of connections grow, the number of referrals grows, both internal and external. So as we grow, more visitors get to hear our infomercials and see our presentations. And do business with us. We are around the 30-member mark today. There is more growth after 30 members, and exponential growth after 50. Some chapters have 80 members.

How do we get there? We have to invite more people, more quality guests, as potential members, but we have to be careful with Category Cowboys. Here is a link to a slideshow done by a BNI member in the UK, Dan Fletcher: Cartoon Box: Classification Cowboy.

We have to be aware of Category Cowboys. The classification you joined under is your classification. But you know your profession, and what your core business is. Ask yourself ho can you invite or have join us that complements you? That you refer business to? Be wary of pre-judging guests.

In my case, we are in the Web design and hosting category. Some of you think we do social media, that it is grouped together. We are not a social media company. We do set up social media accounts, and we do help our clients with their social media strategy, but it is not our core. If a social media strategist wanted to join, I should not be a category cowboy and block the application, even if that strategist claims to do websites. If the person did join, I should stick to infomercials about websites, and the social media strategist should stick to infomercials about social media.

We had a former member who only dealt with clients that had over a certain dollar amount in assets. In hindsight, we should have had a spot for someone who dealt with those who had less than that dollar amount. That person could have been from his firm, or from another. Some BNI chapters have five lawyers, or two real estate agents, for residential and commercial.

To sum up, you know your core/classification, so stick to it, and encourage guests and membership from those you can refer business to, even if other members think you are both in the same profession, so our chapter can grow and prosper.


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