The 3 Things You MUST PREPARE Before Your First Core Group Meeting

1. Book Hotel for 7 weeks Core Group Meetings, Launch Day & Regular Meetings

My suggestion for the core group meetings is to guarantee for 15 pax but ask them to have seating for 20pax. Most hotels will have enough food for everyone and you will have some buffer for "no-shows".

If the hotel asks you to confirm in writing, then confirm 7 weeks of 15 pax, 1 week of 80 pax for the launch and then subsequently 20 pax on a weekly basis. These numbers will keep them happy. But tell them that you will fine tune the figure for the launch day and the regular meeting at a later date.

It is very important to tell the hotel exactly how you want the room laid out, preferably with a diagram. Even then, they will make mistakes. For the first core group meeting, make sure that you check the room layout the night before the meeting if possible, or at least turn up at 6am and make sure that everything is in order. (Believe me, they still screw up the arrangement for our regular meetings, even after 3 years!)

The seating should be U shaped, with a break in the centre for easier passage. There should be a display table in front right in the centre to display the BNI books, CDs, tapes, new member’s kit, newsletters etc. There should also be a resource table at the rear of the room for members to put their promotional material, and a sign in table at the entrance to the room. The hotel should also be providing a white board, flip chart and an overhead projector. The hotels also normally provide a microphone and speakers – but they are seldom used if the Director has a loud enough voice (which I am sure most of you have).

Make sure that they provide the number of seats as requested. Sometimes the hotel gets lazy and they retain the set up from the previous meeting and you may end up having seating for 30+ people. It is important to have limited seats so that the room looks full. If there are too many empty seats, the energy level and momentum will drop. So if there are too many seats, get the hotel to remove them!

The trick is to know where the hotel keeps the spare chairs so that if more than 20 people turn up, you know where to get the extra chairs. And having to get extra chairs is good psychologically, as your members and guests will feel that the response is better than expected!

The hotel should have the breakfast set up by 6:30am. My suggestion is to have the breakfast served inside the room as it keeps people within the room, and you are more in control. It also makes the atmosphere warmer and cozier.

Have the booking for the Launch Day and the exact room they are going to give you for the Launch Day confirmed in writing. This is the most important day for your new chapter and you cannot afford the hotel to forget your booking or place you in an inappropriate room.

I have had Visitors Days (which is like a Launch Day) screwed up by the hotel through booking on the wrong date, putting us in a room that is too small to cater for the expected crowd, and on another occasion, putting us in the grand ballroom that can accommodate 40 tables and we needed only 10 tables!

So I'd rather be very cautious rather than assume that the hotel is experienced enough to get it right. They won’t!

By the way, ask the hotel to set up 10 round tables of 8 pax each. When the numbers increase, we can place up to 10 pax per table. Get the hotel to show you the layout plan for the 10 tables.

2. Prepare the President’s Box

Get a medium sized plastic box and fill it with the necessary items.

(Refer to your Director's manual for list of items.)

Get someone to assist you in the sign-in part of the meeting, to free you up to mingle with the Visitors and to create the warm friendly atmosphere. You may get your staff, spouse or even one of your pre-committed core group members to play the door keeper's role.

3. Be VERY FAMILIAR with the Core Group Script & Process

Read and re-read the Core Group Script as many times as is required for you to be familiar with the content and flow. Your presentation has to be natural and smooth flowing, therefore the more prepared and confident you are, the better your presentation will be!

It is important to understand the purpose behind each of the sections. The script provides the facts, and you the presenter, must breathe life into it. You have to add in the body language, the anecdotes, testimonials, humour, relevance, interaction and etc so that the points become meaningful to the listener.

E.g. BNI was started in Malaysia June 2000 and we now have 26 chapters throughout the country. – As facts, they are quite boring to visitors and some listener’s may even think “so what” or don’t see the relevance.

If you were to expand:

“Now, if your business is able to expand to 26 branches in a short span of 6 years, will you feel happy and feel a sense of accomplishment?”

You will definitely get a “Yes” response.

“Do you think it is easy for any business to expand 26 branches?”

Most would response with a “No” answer.

“The reason why BNI Malaysia is able to expand so widely in 6 short years is simply because BNI works, and more and more business people are wanting BNI to help them create more business opportunities. In a short while I will show you BNI can help you get more business….”

By expanding a little bit more, your visitors will be able to identify with and see more relevance in your presentation.

Apart from thoroughly knowing the core group script, you must also be very familiar with the process of the 4 weeks to get the required 16-18 core group members, the 3 weeks close door training which includes the letter campaign, and choosing the LT for the chapter and lastly the Launch Day itself.

Another suggestion is to also read and reread the AD Manual on starting chapters.

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