You’ve heard that 80% of life is just showing up? BNI Executive Director and CRO (Chief Referral Officer), Cys Bronner, asks the question “Are You Showing Up?” and more importantly “How are you showing up?”. Knowing the answers to these questions can make all the difference in your business profitability, referability and let’s face it – reputation.
Are You Showing Up?
Hi, I’m Cys Bronner, Executive Director of BNI’s Greater Los Angeles regions, BNI4Success.
As I thought about this topic I wondered if I should talk about how you show up in your business or how you show up in BNI – the answer I came up with is “yes”.
You see, how you show up to your BNI fellow brethren IS how you show up in your business.
Most BNI members feel that VCP means that Visibility+ Credibility = Profitability. When in reality, it leads to Profitability only IF your Visibility is more than being on someone’s radar. It’s how you are visible to others.
We need to remember that our BNI meeting is a weekly business meeting. How you show up matters. Being a part of that business unit is where your potential referral partners see you and that builds trust.
I know you might be thinking “But Cys, these people see me every week. They hear me talk about my business and current activities in my industry. They know that I am good at what I do. The trust should be there.”
Think about this for a moment. Humor me, please and think a little more about what I am about to say…
“These people” as we just put it, do not follow you around each, and every day. I would venture to say that they do not have an opportunity to follow you to your client meetings, sit in on your court cases, climb the ladder and watch the care you take as a roofer. They just don’t know that side of you and your business.
What they do see is how you show up as a BNI member. Both at your meetings and behind the scenes. So, let’s talk about that…
Whether you are online or in a more traditional face to face setting, your appearance says a great deal about you.
Does your appearance show that you care?
Look, we’ve spent almost a year and a half working in various modes, online, offline, combination of sorts – but one thing holds true – we’re working. And we’re doing this among other people. If we want to make a good impression, let’s start with our selves.
Not too long ago, I had a meeting with another person who was considering leaving the organization by not renewing her membership. I didn’t know this when I reached out to her, it was more geared towards just checking in with our members, my business partners really, and asking my favorite question “How can I help you?”.
She told me the reason that she was thinking about leaving was that she wasn’t getting the referrals that she needed (Btw, I could do a whole podcast on the difference between want and need). Her role as a high-level banker was to bring in the big fish. Sure, she had a few members bring their own accounts over and one introduction to a new account but nothing to write home about.
After explaining this to me, she said that she felt that the group just wasn’t high level enough for her and they would not bring her the referrals that were appropriate for her position.
To be honest, and I’m a little embarrassed to admit this here, but I asked, “Why would they?”. She looked at me and said, “What do you mean?”.
I took a deep breath and said something like: “look even I don’t really have a long solid relationship I have known you for less than a year and I’m not a member of your chapter so I don’t see you weekend and week out… this is a little awkward for me but if you really want to know what I see on the occasions that I see you I am happy to tell you because I think it’s going to make a difference for you to hear it or look at it through my eyes it might answer you were wondering why I asked you why would they?
We could talk about today we could talk about the last couple of times I’ve been to your meeting and seeing you, but I’m gonna start with the most awkward of it and that was we had a fairly important event – our membership season, that your chapter works on for months in advance, in some cases they start right after the event for the next year. This is where we present BNI, answer your questions and give people an opportunity to apply to be considered for membership into that chapter.
This means that you were there to represent yourself and show people that you feel that they are of value not just the people attending but the group that you’re a part of so what I saw, and again this is very awkward for me, because I just don’t have a deep relationship with you, but I truly want to help.
What I saw was that you arrived at the event half hour late. In an online meeting this is no less visible then in a in person meeting when you showed up the bed behind you wasn’t made and I didn’t really worry about that too much because we’re all working from home at this time and we don’t all have the luxury of a second space for an office but it made me wonder if you had forgotten about the meeting because your hair wasn’t brushed you were wearing something that resembled a negligee or slip and your presence through the meeting was that you were kind of hunkered down trying to cover yourself not really a part of it. I was surprised and then set it aside but then I’ve seen you a couple times since and when I was at your chapter meeting a week or so ago, I also saw a person that wasn’t dressed to do business. I have to stop here because I feel what I’m saying is really harsh but the honesty about this is we all want the best for ourselves in our business, but we have to recognize how people are seeing us and if we’re representing ourselves the best for our business.
I went on to tell her that the elephant in the room is that she is not showing up in a way that would encourage anyone to make that introduction. Why would they?
There’s a reason that there is a whole industry of fashion, articles and advisors based on Dress for Success. It not only shows that you are intentional, but it respects the people that are around you.
And what time are you showing up?
Did you know that there’s a clock tower overlooking Lombardi Avenue that was erected at Lambeau Field several years ago? It stands above one of the gates to the stadium.
Not too surprisingly, it runs on “Lombardi Time”, 15 minutes ahead of the actual time. Because Vince Lombardi was more than a great coach of the Green Bay Packers, but he knew how to show up and what that meant – not just to the game but in business and in life. As a matter of fact, I’ve raised my family on Lombardi Time (or as we like to call it, Stanley Bronner Time).
To Vince Lombardi, being on time – strolling in at exactly 7am for the 7am meeting – was late. This Hall-of-Fame Coach knew that the start time begins before the game, or the meeting. You show up early, by the time the meeting starts, you’ve already gotten your coffee, chosen your seat, prepared your notes, and have your game face on. By the time the event starts, you have shown up ready to roll.
Are you prepared? Are you really prepared? Years ago, many, many years ago, my husband had partnered into my internet business. Now he had far more experience in the tech industry than I did, but not with our team. He knew his stuff inside and out and would come to the weekly team meeting without any notes and shoot from the hip – most times, at a target that was just a little off center and each time with a moment of fumbling and pulling it together.
I was frustrated to say the least. I had to speak to him, in the way that wives sometimes do, and say “Your time on the meeting agenda is everyone’s time, and it shouldn’t be a surprise. We have the same reporting out every week. EVERY WEEK.” I went on to say that if he has a spot on the agenda each week to discuss progress, bugs, etc. and brainstorm with the team then he needs to show up with those items in hand, ready to talk about it. Not just the numbers or issues to riffle through but prepared presentations that allow us to work together, just as our BNI members should.
Sure, you know your stuff. You live it, breath it, write it down on little cocktail napkins, but are you prepared to show up and deliver a confident, concise moment that shows us you not only know your stuff but care enough about it and the others in the room?
Are you showing up in your business coms? Or do the phone calls or emails from others end up chasing you?
I once called a referral partner from my original BNI chapter when I was a member. In the midst of the call, she referenced a contract of mine that I had given her a year ago to glance over and make sure that the contract I gave her was what I should be using for my business. A year ago.
Honestly, I had forgotten about the contract request, it had been so long. I had originally phoned her to ask how I could help support her in her run for public office. You can imagine my reaction to her (what I felt) semi-apology telling me that it was still on her desk and she’s been meaning to get to it but “…Oh you know, those are just BNI… it’s not like it’s a real referral “.
When you don’t respond in a reasonable manner or time frame, you have to wonder how you are showing up to others, don’t you?
It’s not just the referral or the timekeeping, it’s about doing what we say we will do. To-dos represent an agreement: “I’ll handle the budget update for next week’s meeting,” “I’ll pick up something for dinner on the way home,” or “I’ll send you the updated PowerPoint deck later tonight.”
Not keeping your word, can be perceived in just so many ways. Just 2 of them are, a lack of integrity meaning that you don’t care or even understand the importance of keeping your word and the other is that you might be taking on so much, because you are afraid to say no, and just can’t do any of it. Either of those do not paint you in the best light, but it does display how you show up.
Lastly, I want to leave you with the most damaging, yet most common, item, texting. There’s no texting in BNI or in business. When you text at a meeting, you are just not all in. How can you be? The focus is no longer on the meeting or the people around you, it’s on your phone. A sneak peek is so much more than that, it’s an indication that your mind is not on the subject at hand, that it has a lessor importance to you.
I would like to encourage you to be more fully engaged in the purpose of your presence by placing your phone in your bag or briefcase with the sound off. Give it a try and see what the difference might be. The difference in you and showing up.
Thank you for listening today.
I look forward to seeing your comments and stories at BNIPodcast4Success.com
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