by Brandon Souba
I have talked about speed skating in past blogs. When I go skating, it is the time I can either shut down my brain and focus on time and speed, or open up my mind and think of education and blogs. The other day I had an experience on the trail that made me think of a perfect blog for this time a year.
When I get to the lake, I park in a lot with the American flag proudly flying. I like this because it reminds me how lucky I am that I have the freedom to go skating on a beautiful lake, but it also shows me which way the wind is blowing. The lake trail is a full circle so no matter what way I start the wind will be for me and against me at some point. On the days I am feeling lazy; I take the easy way out and finish with the wind blowing me home. The days I am feeling strong and in shape, I end my ride with the wind in my face, holding me back. My legs are burning and I am exhausted, but it gives me a certain sense of satisfaction. I swear there are some days that the wind is blowing against me both ways… Got to love Mother Nature and Nebraska weather, right!
So how does this story play in to BNI?
During the winter time, typically our schedules aren’t as full, our vacation time is running low, and there aren’t as many activities going on. It’s easy to making time for your meeting, just as it’s easy to end my skate with the wind at my back. But when summer hits, our schedules fill up pretty quickly! Kids are out of school, we take as many vacation days as we can, and there is always something going on. My wife filled out our family calendar with all the free things to do around town, and she darn near had an event every day! Making it to your meeting in the summer is like skating against the wind. We think of all the other things we could be doing, and it is very tempting to think “Oh it’s just too hard to make my meeting, so I just won’t go.” But here is the funny part about skating against the wind; IT MAKES YOU STRONGER.
To be clear, this blog is not telling you vacation and family time should not be a priority. I believe family time and work time should be balanced to be happy in both situations. But there are things you can do for your BNI meeting that can be accomplished with a little planning ahead.
If you know you will not be at the meeting find a sub. Don’t start asking for a sub a few days before, but when you book your airfare or your hotel, book your sub for the meeting also! The more heads up you can give someone the more likely they will have that day and time open in their schedule. Don’t forget you can ask a member from another chapter, it is always good to meet members in different chapters.
If you are on leadership team or a support role, let the team know you won’t be at the meeting and send in any education or reports that are needed for the meeting. This way, the agenda can be ran without missing a beat.
Enter all your referrals and activity online before you leave. This way, having all your BNI activity entered online helps keep the Vice President report accurate. On top of that, after a few days or a few weeks away, it is hard to recall everything you had going on before you left. If everything is entered before you take off, you have nothing to worry about.
You may be thinking to yourself, members are allowed up to 3 absences, why go to all the work when I can just take an absence and move on? What would it look like if there was a visitor at the meeting and needed your product or service, and you were not there? You could lose possible business or miss the chance to meet a referral source that could produce constant business for you.
Having a sub exposes your business at the meeting and that visitor will hear that your classification is in the chapter, gaining you visibility. You will gain credibility if you prepare someone with your leadership team reports or an education piece to be presented at the chapter. I was at a meeting and the education coordinator had a sub, so he sent an education piece about subs to be presented at the meeting, it was a great education and how perfect to have it presented when the education coordinator had a sub!
Lastly, just like skating against the wind, doing a little extra work, if you are going to miss a meeting, will show all your members you care. Not just about your seat in BNI, but you care about the chapter members as a whole. It is showing you value your members and their time they give to the chapter by putting a little extra time in to be represented when you can’t make the meeting.
So keep in mind this summer, if you want the referrals to keep coming and have some more bread and butter for your business, prepare ahead of time when you know you will be missing a meeting. All businesses have their busy times and their slow times, If you can keep up good visibility and credibility during your busy times, you will most definitely have strong profitability during your slow times! SO go ahead and take on the wind this summer, challenge yourself to keep up good VCP with your chapter. Then when winter hits, the wind will be behind you and it will be an easy ride to the finish line.