When asked how to handle politics at a chapter meeting, BNI Executive Director, Cys Bronner responded that the member should be coached to achieve the best results from the membership. After all, there’s a time and a place for everything.
Hi! This is Cys Bronner, BNI Executive Director for the Greater Los Angeles area regions on October 27th just days away from the US Election, which brings us to today’s topic…
Recently, I was asked about politics at a chapter meeting. With the current election looming ahead, it shouldn’t surprise anyone that we all have views and opinions, but I wondered how this helps us in the forum our BNI members participate in.
I’m a firm believer in being true to yourself, but I’m also a firm believer in that there is a time and place for everything. After all, we all joined BNI to grow our business and are committed to that mission.
Our mission is “to help members increase their business through a structured, positive, and professional ‘referral marketing’ program that enables them to develop long-term meaningful relationships with quality professionals.” (Givers Gain® The BNI Story, Chapter 10.)
Regardless of our religion, sexual orientation, age, disability, or politics: at our core, we are all the same – and in the case of our BNI members, we are present at the meeting to pursue and elevate that sameness of being business professionals working together in the community.
That community is we create through our weekly business meeting. Which means, when you ask me about politics in the agenda, I feel that it just doesn’t belong in a meeting. If you want to stay on mission – stay off the topics of religion and politics at BNI meetings.
I would (and often have) suggest to any Leadership Team that if a member is not utilizing their weekly presentation time effectively to present their business, that it is time for coaching.
Truthfully, this falls into the same hat.
We all know that there is a time and place for everything and this is direct from the organization’s founder, Dr. Ivan Misner’s, mouth “If they want to sell something, they should join a chapter. If they want to promote a political or spiritual decision, they need to speak somewhere else. It’s appropriate if it is the right venue for that and there are many.”
I agree with Dr Misner, if you don’t know how to deliver a focused weekly presentation, you are leaving money and opportunity at the table.
Did you ever watch Murphy Brown? Let me take you back to 1991; I loved her glimpse into what Thanksgiving with her openly direct family was like. Made me laugh so hard, that I remember this 29 years later. She would recount all the relations annually voicing their religious and political views until someone ended up in the ER with a fork stuck in them. It was funny to me, because it struck a nerve with me, and it was from the safety of behind the TV monitor. But it sure wasn’t in the midst of my opportunity to present my business to my professional peers and it sure as heck, wasn’t inline with our Code of ethics: I will display a positive and supportive attitude with BNI members.
All of that takes me back to coaching our members to be who they are in the appropriate forum and not to miss out on their opportunity for powerful weekly presentations for their business needs as well as listening to the needs of others.
I’m also going to venture that people have opinions on the way you represent yourself during the meeting – not just the information you provide. In the same way that I would coach someone on their voice, attire and body language when presenting, I would also remind them not to give anyone an opportunity to judge you on something that takes away from your message and could defuse the quality of your referrals… quality, not quantity.
If you don’t stay on track of our mission, you lose the BNI experience that so many of us are there for and the results that you desire.
We are proud of our emerging legacy of bringing people together. People who, , may have contentious political and religious positions – yet in BNI, they focus on the mission of relationships and referrals.
This doesn’t mean that members are apolitical. To the contrary, I am sure that many have strong political and religious beliefs, and they should. It just doesn’t belong in a meeting.
If you want to stay on mission – stay off the topics of religion and politics at BNI meetings. But, really, shouldn’t we all know that already?
In networking: The more memorable (positive and helpful) you are, the better the results.
Questions? Feel free to call BNI Executive Director Cys Bronner 866-889-3466 or email her at Cys.Bronner@BNI4success.com
Her motto: BNI, Making word of mouth marketing work for you
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