Team BNI evergreen joined us on a very happy occasion as they hit ‘top traffic lights’ for the first time this month!
Saima Asghar Riaz, an education and career guidance counselor for the past 23 years and the chapter’s secretary-Treasurer, shares her experience, what got her into BNI, and taking up a leadership role.
The Journey Begins
“My friend Tina, whom I had met when I moved to Dubai six years ago, got me into BNI. I met her at an improv class that I was checking out for my kids, and she was there with her son as well. So she invited me to one of the face to face networking events and open day. This was about five years ago, and I’d attended that, but at that time, I didn’t take up the membership because I didn’t have a company license at that time, and then she invited me again when BNI went online. So by that time, I was sorted with my company license and all, and I just enjoyed the concept even when I had visited the first time around, and it was amazing.
“I was also honored when I was invited to be part of the leadership team because I wasn’t expecting that. I was still considering myself a newbie, and when I was invited, it was amazing, and Vinita and Ruba have been fantastic teammates to have worked with. I’ve learned so much, and I think I’ve personally and professionally grown so much in these six months, and of course, the way the chapters grown and performed it’s amazing; I’m on a complete high!”
Vinita Michael (President of BNI Evergreen) is a jewelry designer and gemologist and founder of the award-winning label ‘Vinita Michael.’
“We specialize in Unique Concept Jewelry crafted in sterling silver and 18K gold. My journey with BNI started around three years back, and I was invited to BNI by Priya Telavane, who represents the interior design category in our chapter. She was the President at that point, and she was one of my clients, and she gave me very rave reviews about BNI. I love the synergy and diversity within the chapter the kind of members the chapter had, and to be honest; I was looking for a networking platform that would allow me to be outside my industry. Up until that point, all my networking events were around design and fashion, so this was a breath of fresh air. Also, I loved the accountability aspect of it in my first meeting itself; I decided that if I had to join any networking organization, it was going to be this, or none”, says Vinita.
Ruba, a design manager at 3D NOVA, a 3D design 3D printing company, started her journey in business and BNI 4 years ago.
“I was a fresh new entrepreneur, and I thought I had a lot to learn about the business because I was purely a technical and engineering person, so I had no clue about how to run a business and anything about the business world. So when Tina invited me to BNI, I remember that I came 30 minutes late actually, and I just walked in casually. It was my first-ever meeting, and I was mesmerized by how, especially coming from a technical world, suddenly coming to a business meeting was completely different for me, so I need something like this,” says Ruba.
The Secret Of Success
“The entire chapter is thrilled. We are thrilled about it too. The strategy or the vision to get here actually started last term, when Amina was the President, I was the Vice President, and Ruba was the Secretary-Treasurer. So we figured out that okay, you know, we have everything going for the chapter, I think we need to keep some KPIs in place and bring the accountability factor a little more, and nothing is stopping us from getting on the top.
That’s pretty much what we did, and this time, we continued to help both me and Ruba work in the LT to continue, and then Saima came on board. She also shared that vision because it’s very important to have that synergy within the three. If you don’t have it, you can create as many vision or vision boards as you want, but it’s not going to materialize. So it’s great that we were on the same page. And it’s great that the chapter also took it on board. And everybody performed. It’s not just the work of just us 3, it is the work of the 34 that has brought us here, and we’re very excited.” says Vinita as she shares her thoughts on the success of BNI Evergreen.
“I think after the results and all, we see a lot more synergy and a lot more excitement in the chapter. But, you know, as soon as the competition ended as well, there’s so much more happening in terms of the interaction between members now than perhaps there was before, and I think it’s just so infectious, the energy that’s been created.” Saima adds.
“I would actually talk about the race to success. So you know, the last time we did something very similar, the visitor competition, and we were looking at growing the chapter. So this time, when there was an introduction about the race to success, we realized that, okay, we had done something very similar. So we can actually up the game here. So what we did was that we had the race to success, and we had another round of race to success in our chapter, where we added a few more KPIs such as CEU points, TYCBs, and Referral Counts. So the teams had three more KPIs to do besides the visit accounts.
I think that was like a 360-degree development of the members, no wonder this time, we have a majority of 15 members out of our 34 in green, and there are only 3, I think, who are in red; everyone else is amber or green, and two members with a top 100. So I think it helps even the members on an individual basis too, you know, bring in the quality contributions and get the quality contributions in return. So I would say this is one thing that we did very differently this term, and Ruba was instrumental in this.”
Vinita attributes this success of BNI Evergreen to a change in normal proceedings and the introduction of new standards and procedures into the chapter.
Another milestone that BNI evergreen reached was the 20 million mark in Thank You For Closed Business.
“I really need to say that organization is the most important thing, Vinita knows me by now that if it’s not on my calendar, I will never remember it, I always tell her if we need to put if we need to do something, if it’s not on my phone, I don’t see it, I will never. So everything needs to be organized. But in terms of the competition, like Vinita said, we took it up one level. We’re already doing this race to success. Let’s focus on Thank You For Closed Business as well as the visitors, because our chapter is really good with bringing in visitors. But we also need to focus on the Thank You For Closed Business.
So we set targets every week for members to achieve every single week. And I was monitoring them one by one every single week, I created a sheet and I had every single member’s name with their contribution. So I would see who’s done what, one by one, simply to see what each person is doing, and then we’ll send them a reminder, last week, you could have done this, maybe you should bring in some TYCB this week and we will up the points. We give a lot of points to TYCB. Then members started competing within each other, because the higher the TYCB, the higher the points, so then you would see members suddenly bringing in 280,000 per week, 100,000 per week and, and so on.
So this really increased the thank you for closed business, which kept members, you know, going and then fishing around. I remember one week, I had I think at least 10 emails of members checking if they have received tTYCB from others. So they want to make sure that every single TYCB for them is locked in. So that’s how everyone was really, really working hard on this competition. So I think organization is the most important thing for running this role.”
Ruba sheds light on how an organized and structured method of accountability helped BNI Evergreen achieve a great milestone of 20 million Thank You For Closed Business.
“I think what I enjoyed most in the first meeting, and even now is the diversity, diversity not only in terms of gender, but also in terms of the nationalities and languages presented and the sectors presented. In the other chapters I visited, if they are diverse in terms of the industries, they are not diverse in terms of nationality, or gender. I think Evergreen just brings that whole balance into so much perspective. The first time I had visited it, it was an all female chapter. So that was something that was really interesting for me, and I felt really comfortable.
I had been a solo entrepreneur and I had never actually had a tribe working with me and then when I joined, it was no longer an all female chapter. That actually added more to the chapter, the fact that we had both men and women working together, giving that kind of push to each other and the fact that there were so many cultures and nationalities presented meant, at least for me, personally, and I’m sure for the others as well, that we were in a place like Dubai, we were actually tapping into markets that we wouldn’t have been able to tap into if it was predominantly one or two nationalities only.” Saima states as she focuses on the key aspect of this chapter that really piqued her interest.
Tips For New Members
“I had my one to one with our newest member just yesterday, we talked to her just last week and I was telling her the same thing that soon it’s very easy for a new member to get overwhelmed in the start. Because there are so many terminologies, everybody seems so busy and occupied, and you’re really trying to fit in and find your way. So the sooner you get onto it, the better it is for you. So I would say do not wait for that 60 days to finish. That’s number one to complete your New Member Accelerator Program, finish it as soon as possible.
Finish your mentorship with the 11 mentors appointed to you as soon as possible, and then get on to doing the one to ones with other chapter members. The other thing that I would highly suggest is that we always, of course, Givers Gain is very important. But I think there also needs to be a realistic expectation of what to receive in terms of your business quantitatively, and how are you going to achieve that. So this is my one piece of advice as well to new members that, you know, besides just the awareness and networking, you should also have a quantitative figure of what you’re going to bring into your business. That’s the other one.
So for anyone joining, just remember that BNI is a business organization, it’s for you to make business. But always remember that BNI is not like a cold call. So you can’t just walk into the room and tell people, “This is what I do, do you want to buy it?” So it’s not a cold call.
“BNI is a relationship based business business network. So you have to build your relationship with people, you have to understand what they do, you need to give them time to trust you as well. Maybe try their services, let them try their services, let them try your services. Once that trust and relationship is built, then you can take it forward.
The nice thing about building a relationship for business is that it’s going to be a recurring client recurring, you’re gonna get recurring clients coming back to you. But unlike a cold call, let’s say it’s a one time thing, you hit it you get it doesn’t matter what comes after it. So that’s the most important thing about being in the long term. I would say relationship investments, not short term.”
Ruba highlights the importance of building relationships and it’s recurring effect on your business growth.
“I would say, first of all, have synergy with the members who you’re going to be working with in your roles. That’s one. And secondly, to be an empathetic leader. I think you have to think about the other members as well as professionals, as well as on a personal level to truly motivate them to achieve their best, these are my two tips.” Vinitha shares advice for new members.
“Set aside some time to do the tasks that are assigned in your role, as you know, BNI, SD, or VP or President, whatever, and it does, it does take commitment, it does take time, but I think it’s all about being methodical and and putting aside that time and making sure that you’re, you know, you’re on top of things, and being empathetic to the fact that everybody else is also a professional, and they may not always respond to you. So it’s just about understanding that this is BNI. Maybe because we are in the LT or in a leadership role, it may be taking up more of our time and more of our energies, but it doesn’t have to for everybody. So it may not be the first priority for everybody. That is okay. So just, you know, just be patient and allow people to support the chapter.” Says Saima.
“There are two ways either you look at what you would like to improve or to take on a role, what you would like to improve or what you’re already good at. For example, if you’d like to connect to more people, then take up a visitor host role, if you would like or a MC role. If you would like to, let’s say, work on your mentorship skills, take on the education role or the mentorship program, if you feel that there’s a lot you can help members well with take on the mentorship. See what you would like to improve on or what you’re good at to take that role. In BNI, taking on a role will improve some of your skills, or will add on to the chapter.” Ruba concludes.