Meaghan Chitwood joins our “WiFi Studio” to talk about effective networking & the power behind BNI.
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Read the Full Interview Below
Sarah: Good morning, everyone! Happy Friday! Welcome to BizTalk. And boy, do we have a good one for you today. Let’s get started.
Glyna: Good morning. Happy Friday, everybody. I am Glyna, with Fusion One Marketing, and over here somewhere, we’re all backwards. Here’s the rest of our amazing marketing team, Sarah and Kelsi. At Fusion One Marketing, we specialize in getting companies more calls and more business. We started BizTalk to highlight those same businesses that we love, but also to grab some of their pro tips that all of us can use. Before we get started, Sarah, can you pop up where everyone can find our broadcast? Basically, when we do our broadcast, we are live now on Facebook, YouTube, and Twitter, and then we do the replay on those channels and everything else, but you can also find us on our new podcast called Marketing and A Mic. All right. I’m so excited to get started this morning. We have such a special guest, Meaghan Chitwood, who is not only our beloved Vietnam executive for Northern Alabama, but now she is also the BNI President of Franchise Countries. Besides that, she has two kids and a husband and all kinds of things. So, how are you doing?
Meaghan Chitwood: No pets. We don’t have any pets.
Glyna: No pets, okay.
Meaghan Chitwood: No pets, too complicated!
Glyna: How are you doing this morning?
Meaghan Chitwood: Doing great. Doing great. Thank you so much for having me. I’m so excited to be here.
Glyna: Oh, we are so excited to have you on. I know there’s going to be a lot of BNI folks that are going to be joining us here in a minute. In fact, right away, we have Steve Johnson and we have Cindy Edmunds. Good morning to both of you. We’re just going to go ahead and dive right in Meaghan, if you could give us just a little bit about your background and maybe tell us something about your family.
Meaghan Chitwood: I have a really interesting background that I’ll just touch on. I started off as an engineer, learned very quickly that I wanted to have more of a vision and a mission in life, and really wanted to dedicate myself to something that had more meaning. From that point, I decided to become a small business owner myself, and that’s why I got into business coaching. And then from business coaching, I found BNI. And then within about a year of finding BNI, and it worked so well for me, I then became the executive director of BNI. And then, I’ve worked through the BNI, to now work for the franchise or as well as being an executive director. I’ve had an interesting, unique perspective on things because heavily process, thought minded and, you know, analysis and thinking about how things work from the engineering part of my brain. And then I just love people, and I love working with people and I love helping people succeed and all those kinds of things. That brings it together and having a unique fashion. You wouldn’t normally think an engineer would be any good at in-person people networking. And I’m not saying I’m necessarily good at it, but I love it, and I do it-
Glyna: You are.
Meaghan Chitwood: I love getting together to benefit from it as well.
Sarah: Well, BNI has become a household name for all of us, or is a household name for all of us, but what really drew you to BNI specifically, would you say?
Meaghan Chitwood: I was just reminiscing about my first chapter visit ever. Again, business coach was my business. I walked in, I saw this group of people who really enjoyed seeing each other. So it had this familial atmosphere to it, and then I then got to experience the meeting and I saw the whole process of how the meeting works, and again, the engineer in me. Oh my gosh, this all makes sense, and the structure really produces results and it’s the perfect marriage of bringing process and people together. I think that just really attracted me to it. And then I could see the results. That’s the other thing that makes BNI a little bit unique to most other networking activities people do, is we just track everything. So, we know how much money you make …No, we don’t know how much money you make, you know how much money you make. We know how much money you give in terms of referrals being generated, and we track all of it so that we know everyone’s following the process and doing well in the process. That’s what really drew me to it. And then the other piece is just being able to look at it and go, wow, okay, I can work with people one on one as a coach, I can work with … at that point, it was like 500 people, it was probably closer to 400, 400 people. And now within just BNI in Alabama, we’re almost 800 people. And then if you talk about globally … if you look back in your life and you say, did I make an impact in the world? I might not be famous, but I know my fingerprints are reminiscent everywhere. And that’s the part that I just love about it, being behind the scenes and knowing that. That I’m really making an impact in small businesses in Alabama and across the world.
Kelsi: Yeah. That’s amazing. You’ve been really, really busy with BNI since coronavirus started and we had to shift from in-person to online. Can you share your opinions about how efficiency and networking, and the networking process changed when we went … Not just with BNI, but in general?
Meaghan Chitwood: Yeah. I think everyone would say everything has changed, right? I’m still trying to figure out okay, what is life? And what’s life going to be going forward? The first thing was our CEO just saw, we need to get everybody online as quickly as possible to make sure everybody stays safe and we can continue to network and we continue to pass referrals. First, it was that forethought, and then all of us got to work. It was amazing because everyone immediately was forced to figure out Zoom. If you think about it, everyone in this … I just talked to someone who said, “My 89-year-old grandmother had to figure out Zoom to be able to interact with the family.” Everyone, all of a sudden, you were forced to figure it out. We’ve had to do it for a couple of months and we’ve been forced to figure it out and all that, that immediately changed everything. So now, when you start looking at, what does this look like going forward? Well, efficiency around, I can meet with you one to one, instead of us having to drive across town. The whole concept of travel time has practically been demolished when it comes to building our relationship. And then the other thing I think has happened is that people now really feel like, wait a second, I can build a relationship online with someone seeing them like we’re seeing each other today, I can do that. I now know that what it feels like because I’m supposed to do it, I now know what it feels like, and it is possible. I do feel close to mom, even though I can’t see her and all those kinds of things. I think it’s really just shifted us all to okay, you want to meet for coffee or do you want to meet via zoom? Oh, okay, well, you don’t have time because you only have an hour. Okay, we can take an hour, click, Zoom. So, I think we’re going to see that people really believe in building relationships online doing a video conference a lot more, and we just will never see … I don’t think we’ll ever see that go away. I always say this, online is better than nothing, right? In-person is absolutely wonderful and absolutely great and perfect, if you’ve got the time to do it. And then the alternative was nothing, now we’ve got this other new alternative that all of us are comfortable with now that’ll, like I said, will just help us be much more efficient going forward.
Glyna: I don’t know about you, but I have to say that I’m proud of everyone in BNI and in general, making themselves learn Zoom. I thought, this is not going to be good, I’m sorry I am talking about them. But that first meeting everyone was on. I was like, see, everybody can do it if they force themselves. I think it’s been a great thing, at least for our group, it has been absolutely amazing.
Meaghan Chitwood: And the other one that I always said, if I talked to you before your first Zoom meeting, I said, it might be a disaster. But that’s okay! We’re all in the disaster together, and we’re all going to have lighthearted about it. Somebody is going to show up and not be able to figure everything out. That’s okay, be compassionate, help everyone out. I know Kelsi helped a lot of people out in getting the technology figured out, but it’s going to be a disaster, and we’re all going to laugh about it one day. So don’t take yourselves too seriously, just really make it work.
Glyna: Yeah. That’s so true. We have some other people joining us this morning. Good morning to Tre Horton, Melissa Melissa Dixon and Samata Shah. Melissa, I’m sure you could probably talk on this for about an hour, but she wants to know, what excites you most about the future of BNI?
Meaghan Chitwood: Oh gosh.
Glyna: It’s loaded.
Meaghan Chitwood: Yeah, it is loaded, but what excites me most about BNI is that we are now in this space in time today, where we are starting to be forced to talk about things we haven’t normally been forced to talk about. We were talking about how do we work online? How do we homeschool our kids? We’re talking about a lot of other things we haven’t ever before, and I think one of the things that really excites me about BNI is that we can carry that same conversation and we can carry that same skillset into really deepening relationships. Right now, because all of us are in this, oh, my gosh, what does life look like now, we are immediately deepening … We’re having conversations with each other that we wouldn’t normally have had. I’m about to lose it, I got to get out of the house, I’m about to lose it. You can say that now because everyone would go, “Yeah, I know what you mean.” That kind of conversation builds relationships, helps when you need help. One person out of the UK says, it’s good to talk. I think that’s what we’re really learning right now during this time. And as we take that into the future, that turns into talking about business more, you compelling me to want to help you even more because I know what your mission in life is, me saying, hey, it looks like you’re having a bad day, what’s going on? Is there anything I can do to help? I think we’ve just opened ourselves up to this whole new conversation that we’ve never had before that will supercharge relationship building and referrals in the end. Because I think we can say more … I feel much more comfortable telling someone when I’m having a bad day than I did before, because guess what, I assume more people are having more bad days right this second and we can talk about it. I think that’s what really does excite me about BNI going forward. And then just, we’re going to continue to evolve as well, just the evolution of … and we’re going to evolve faster, I think, because now we know that change can happen faster, sorry, everyone. The change could happen a little bit faster because you’re thrown into it, I think it creates that muscle memory too, so that we’ll be more open to suggestions on how we can do things better going forward.
Glyna: Great. We know that now you are working globally, you are working with people to start up the franchises all over the world. What things have you observed just from a global perspective in BNI?
Meaghan Chitwood: Dr. Misner always used to say it, and I was like, “Yeah, yeah, that makes sense.” But now I get it. We all speak the language of referrals, no matter what your background is, no matter what your religion is, no matter what your political background is, religion and politics are two things, we don’t tend to talk about in BNI, because they can be very decisive. But what we’re finding is that no matter what your background is, we all speak the language of referrals. We’re all just trying to help our businesses get stronger, and we all also have this secondary mission of helping other small businesses as well, because we know they’ll help us back. And do you see that everywhere? Literally it is exactly the same, even in places you would have never thought it would be that way. It is that way everywhere. That part is really interesting to learn that. And then, we’re all a lot more alike than we are different, is the other big thing that I have seen with that as well, is we’re all so much more alike. I might try and make assumptions about someone else and assume what things are like and all that stuff, but when you get right down to it and you say, what’s going on? It’s family, it’s love, it’s business, it’s wanting to be successful, it’s wanting to be able to have the life they want to have. No matter what country it is, that is what people really want to do. We all might get there a different way, but I would say this in the United States, we’re all getting there a different way as well. You’re picking your way, I’m picking my way, I got to work more hours than you want to work or vice versa, we all have our own way. I think the big learning for me has been that you also have to let people be, and this is a personal mantra of mine, is if we can let people be and we can let people … I think this is a good message for everyone to hear right now especially. We all need to let people be. That person who is extreme and whatever the conversation is, that is who they are, and you’ve got to sit back and you’ve got to look at it and say, okay, so this is who they are, maybe try and put yourself in the other person’s shoes, figure out why, how, where’s that coming from. And when you start really doing that, you go, oh, okay, now I get it, now I understand. I can see where everyone is coming from. That’s what I’ve seen as I look at everything globally. The other thing is that I sometimes am more in touch with what’s going on outside of the United States right now than … On our Friday calls, we have a town hall call and I literally start it out with, what’s going on in Alabama? IM on top of what is going on everywhere else, but what exactly is going on here? I don’t have a weird perception of what reality is. But it’s been a really interesting journey for sure.
Sarah: I can only imagine. When I first got connected with Kelsey and Glyna, I really quickly saw the magic of BNI because whether I would be asking them, hey, do you guys know a contact of so and so, or how did you get in touch with so and so? I mean, it was always BNI. So, I want to ask you, what do you think is that defining formula as far as networking and referrals and building relationships that work so well with BNI?
Meaghan Chitwood: I think first, the beginning is we build relationships. If the relationship doesn’t start, then it just doesn’t work. If I compare it to an open networking event that you might go to, which are valuable, all types of networking is really, really important. But if you go there, most of the time, what you’re doing is you’re shaking hands and you’re saying, “Hey, this is what I do.” And somebody says to you, “Oh, well I need that.” And it’s okay, great. We’ve just done a transactional … I’ve gotten contact. That’s why those events are really, really important. The difference we have though is our first contact isn’t, I do this, oh, I need that. Our first contact is, who are you, what’s your goal, what are your accomplishments, why would I want to refer you? And we build that foundation. Once I’ve bought into you, I feel compelled to help you, I feel compelled to help you, then the next step of BNI that works really well is we can communicate what we need very effectively. We do that during our presentations. It’s a much different presentation than an elevator pitch, because an elevator pitch is … this is what I do. In BNI, we’re saying, this is the person I want to be introduced to, and if everybody’s compelled to help me and they know the person I want to be introduced to, so it’s that communication and consistent communication and consistent contact, they can’t forget me because I’m showing up every day, every week and telling them exactly what I’m looking for. That communication piece is really, really key. And then, I’ll be honest, and A word can be a really bad word to some people, and that A word is accountability. It’s that other piece. We stand up and we say, I have referral for, I have a testimonial for, I have done this activity to help continue to build the businesses of the other people in the room. I’ll never forget being a BNI member standing up my third week in a row having to give a testimonial because I had no referrals the last two weeks and going, “Boy, Meaghan, you better show up with a referral next week or people are going to start to notice.” Now, that wasn’t in anybody else’s head in the room, but it was in mine because I see everybody contributing. And that accountability then comes to, we track it, we know exactly where we are, how well we’ve done, and then we have “gamifyed”, passing of referrals as well, so passing referrals becomes fun. You see BNI chapters, we’ll go to chapter and there’ll be screaming from the mountain tops, how much business they’ve passed to each other over the last year, because we’ve made it fun and we’ve made exciting and we want to make that number higher next year and higher next year and higher next year. I think that’s where the magic happens in bringing all of those pieces together.
Kelsi: Beautifully said. For the professionals out there that are on the fence about BNI, they may have this perception that they don’t belong, or they don’t know if it’s the right fit for them. What would be your response to that?
Meaghan Chitwood: I have never, and I know you might not feel exactly the way I would feel walking into a room, but I’ve never walked into a BNI meeting where a person did not greet me immediately when I walked into the space that they were meeting in and didn’t put their hand out and shake my hand. Now, we might not be shaking hands next time we all are in the same room, but I’ve never had someone not come up, and the other thing is I’ve never seen an unfamiliar face in a BNI meeting and not walk up to them immediately and say, “Hey what’s your name? And who are you? And what is your business, and how … We are very, very welcoming. And I know diversity is a conversation where a lot of companies are having, a lot of people are having at the moment, and I have reached out to a couple of people who have more diverse backgrounds than I have and talked to them about it, and they do absolutely say it is a welcoming environment. I think we can always do better, but it is a welcoming environment. You might feel intimidated because like I said, you walk in and everybody clearly knows each other, but we want to welcome you in because a diverse network is a powerful network. And I’m talking diversity in every aspect of the word, everything from the tradesperson to the financial advisor, the person in their painting outfit with paint on it, and the financial advisor all suited up. We’re all there to work together because a diverse network gives us access to people we would’ve never had access to before. And if you don’t feel welcome at a BNI meeting, when you go and visit, my email address is email@example.com. You can let me know about it because our goal is to be that. Because again, we know, the more relationships we can have, the more we make people feel welcome, the more we get to know other people, and the more we value diversity, the more we’re going to all win as well. I think that’s just a really key thing that people need to hear right now.
Glyna: It’s funny you say that because I find diversity in BNI in general, as far as the different groups, we all do the same thing, but every group has a different personality.
Meaghan Chitwood: Absolutely. I won’t do any name dropping of chapters. You guys might be able to figure out who if you’re in the … we’ll stick with the Birmingham area. It is very diverse. I’ve had people say, “I went and visited chapter A and they were really intense, and I didn’t really feel comfortable with that intensity level.” And I said, “Oh, well, you need to go to chapter B because so and so shows up in flip flops every time in the meeting.” It’s very different. The intensity level, the goal, the businesses in the room tend to be different, depending on which chapter you go to, and we do not have every chapter … Every chapter has a top four and those are filled, but everything else, it becomes very different depending on the chapter. So, every one of them has a different personality, every one of them has a different makeup of people and depending on what your business is, well, I would highly recommend looking at the roster and saying, what other types of businesses would I want to team up with, and that’s really the best … saying, where do I feel at home, and what’s the business makeup in the room, and that’s really your best way of really picking a BNI chapter for yourself.
Glyna: Yes, exactly. We have a few more people tuning in, Deana, Good morning. We have Chad Bennett and the one and only Harry Slagle from Mr. Buggs joining us this morning. Okay. Meaghan, you hit on a little bit, the different types of people that go to BNI, but are there different categories or different industries that work a little bit better than BNI or what are your thoughts there?
Meaghan Chitwood: Yeah. There are industries where they are told networking is the way you grow your business. That’s how I found BNI. You can’t get coaching services by doing a billboard, you have to build a relationship, you have to educate people. There are certain industries that they’ll say networking is the only way to bring your business for sure. I think of it more like it’s the type of person, so it’s the type of person who really likes to work with other people, doesn’t like sitting in a room by themselves. Though those who like to sit in the room by themselves tend to be the better at getting the results because they have a process, but it’s people who say, I want a team around me, I want a support system, I want a mastermind around me, of people who can answer questions when I have questions. It’s people who really appreciate community as well, and then have a certain goal orientation. Because again, that tracking piece … We’re not just all hanging around being social, we are social and we want to see results as well. For the people who say I just really want that next kill, and that’s all that matters to me, and it’s very transactional, that tends to be a person who … like what’s around and go inside, you people are way too touchy, feely for all of this. I think it’s more of your orientation, do you really want to do … we attract a lot of people who do not love the sales process, and we help get you past prospect into the meeting and having the presentation, so if you find yourself just struggling through finding who should I reach out to, how do I get the meeting, how many times do I have to call get the meeting? This is the place for you because the whole idea of referrals is, I set it up, so when I say, “Hey, Glyna, reach out to this person.” They’re ready to have a presentation from Glyna, not for Glyna to have to follow up with them eight times as a normal sales process would be. So, we like people who want that team around them, would rather do it, not on their own, that’s who we really do attract.
Glyna: Taking it a step further, you’re talking about the type of person, what do you think would be a really good tip to give to maybe a new or an existing member, to really make the most out of BNI and make it work for their business?
Meaghan Chitwood: Yeah. For the brand new person who’s walking into a room, and I would call this in any networking, because you can do this by yourself, you do not need BNI. The first thing you have to establish is the relationship of building, I need to get this person to like me so that they want to help me. That’s the number one thing, that’s when you get a referral relationship. I mentioned earlier, shaking hands, oh, I need your service, that’s a transactional relationship. To get a referral relationship going, it really is saying, okay, how are you and I’m going to work together as a team to help each other on a consistent basis? So, in the very beginning, it’s building the relationship and having a relationship with everyone, BNI members, new members, these all qualifies. When a new member comes in, building that relationship with that person is still critical, though I know you have a lot of other people around you’ve got that really relationship established with that, but the relationship is the starting point. And then, you roll into gamification, and this is when you will hear “power of one, one referral, one visitor per month” and having that metric, that goal, that weekly goal to continue to do the activities that bring the results and making a game of it, saying, can I get it make it better, can I make that one-to-one more impactful? I remember as a BNI member, I would go into the one-to-one and go, okay, how do I get this person to trust me by by the end of this meeting? And everybody goes, “That’s impossible. “Not always. Well, you can pull it off, but that was my game, was how far down the trust road can I get by the end of the hour, and what does this person need to know about me in order to get there? Again, it’s the relationship at the beginning, and then it’s, how am I going to get my one referral? How am I going to get my one, one, one, and just thinking that through. We’re going to have a new book coming out in BNI very soon, so look out for it, but it actually goes through the week in the life of a master connector, and this illustrates streamlining getting to the power of one quickly and also even a step further, like becoming a master connector, which is what the week looks like. All of you must be thinking, oh my gosh, that sounds like it takes a lot of time. We got it down to less than four hours, including your BNI meeting. Yeah, that was the goal. Again, gamifying, how do we make this more effective, but it’s little, tiny, intentional moments of time that you spend to make that happen. So, if you’re a BNI member, that’s what you need to be playing with, is how do I gain by the power of one and how do I do it as efficiently as possible? And then that’s when the results fly and you start getting massive, massive impact from BNI.
Kelsi: Wow. Yeah. For people who are still thinking about it, what would you say is expected? You mentioned the power of one, you mentioned the one to ones, the continued communication, but what else is expected of a BNI member?
Meaghan Chitwood: We expect you to show up because if you don’t show up, this doesn’t work, you have to be visible, so we expect you to show up. We expect you to intentionally try and build relationships with people and really focus on that. If you just focus on showing up and building relationships, everything else falls into place, you’ll get the rest of it by just being at a meeting. I know we probably have a reputation for being unbelievably structured, but it’s not as it’s … There are expectations, but expectations bring results. That’s it. Every chapter also does tend to have their own goals, and we’ll tell you what those goals are, but I’ll tell you as a new, new person, you can say, do you really expect me to do all of this out of the gate? You can say, I’m not comfortable passing a referral yet, because I don’t have trust with you, so that is … I think open communication would be another one that I would add in, it’s not in the BNI program, but just talk about it. Talk about what you’re needing, what you’re thinking as you go through it. And then we do have training, we’re trying to make that as accessible as possible to every single person on your own time, so a lot of it is e-learning, but there is a skill set that you have to learn to be effective in BNI as well.
Kelsi: That’s so helpful. We’ve had a lot of success with most of our newer members because of the training that comes with the new membership. They just take off and within a month, they’re-
Meaghan Chitwood: I tell you, if you just do our onboarding process as written, you will be passing referrals so fast and you’ll be getting referrals I was even surprised by that, and I helped develop the training program in my previous role.
Glyna: Awesome. Well, we have Daniel Entrekin joining us and Cindy Edmunds. She is my soul sister, I think. She says structure is always better, I totally agree, and I love the accountability and structure that you were talking about.
Meaghan Chitwood: I am not structured. That was one of the best things that ever happened to me, was the structure of BNI. It helped me learn how to structure life. I won’t go far with life, but it helped me structure my business, because I was completely unstructured before I was introduced to the structure of it.
Glyna: Well, we have Harry, who’s in the Summit BNI, shout out! He’s like, any ideas that you can give him for attracting visitors? He wants to bring more visitors, but what advice would you give to him ?
Meaghan Chitwood: Let me give you a tip right now. And this was learning from others. Right now, people generally need help, just assume everyone needs help in some way. We all needed it three months ago too, but right now you can safely assume everybody needs help in some way. So just ask, “Hey, how can I help? What’s going on? Is there anything that you think I can do?” And people will almost start … Again, we’ve started opening this communication line and people will ask, they’ll ask you, can I pass you another referral? If it’s a business owner though, they will probably bring up that business has changed for them in some capacity. And the minute they say business has changed, you can say, “Yeah, I know the feeling. You should come along because we’ve got a mastermind of people.” And think about what they need and think about what BNI has provided. They’re saying I need a group of people, I need to figure out how my business grows. You might think, okay, do I need a business consultant? You also might think, come here and listen to the conversations that are happening in BNI. So, I think the biggest one is just start with, how can I help? The more people you ask, how you can help, the more referrals you’ll pass, but also you’ll find a ton of visitors that way as well. That’s my quick tip on getting more visitors.
Glyna: There you go Harry!
Sarah: That’s a really good tip. Let’s talk about the generational aspect of that. What I mean is the younger professionals that are coming in. What would you say to them maybe as far as a mindset, mental health, building relationships and networking, the whole thing?
Meaghan Chitwood: I was lucky enough to find BNI when I was 23. And I have been recently re-educated because I am no longer 23. I’ve been reeducated on what is the mindset of the early 20 somethings coming into their careers. 27 is the age that people tend to start a business. The value that I got from BNI was … that I had built in mentorship. You can figure things out so much faster when you’ve got built in mentorship from a bunch of different people. Yeah, and they’re in all different places in their careers and you can say, she’s really good at sales, that person is an attorney, they must know about business. Oh, you’re an accountant, I don’t know anything about accounting. So, you’ve got all of that, and that’s partially how I use my one to ones as well, is to say, hey, what about this? And how about that? And all those kinds of things also. For the young people early in their career, I think that is the biggest benefit we bring to them, is to help them get off the ground faster. And then a lot of things I heard as we were doing this particular focus group was, I don’t know enough, I’ve got to get my feet under me, I’ve got to get experience in my career. No better way to get experience than to have a more seasoned person pass your referral that you might to brilliantly and you might completely mess up, and it’s the best learning experience we have. So just speed up the amount of experience you will actually get by being a part of it within your business.
Kelsi: You mentioned earlier that there’s about 800 members in Alabama alone. Do you have any other statistics off the top of your head?
Meaghan Chitwood: We are just over 168,000 members across.
Sarah: Holy moly!
Meaghan Chitwood: And we’re around 69,000 in the United States, and we passed just this year. January and February were pretty normal, March through now, at the end of May, we had passed over $6 billion worth of business to each other. During this crazy time, business was still being done. And I always say, there was this much business going on in February and let’s just say, there’s this much business going on now, but BNI members have been able to connect each other with the limited amount of business that has been happening. I’m going to tell you, BNI was brilliant for business owners in 2008 and in 2009, and it’s going to be just as brilliant when we’re out back to normal. Because again, people are going to need more trust to do business, not only with each other, but people are also going to need more trust in separating themselves from their money. If you have somebody who’s raving about you, then it’s all of that trust piece is already taken away and now, we can just, again, skip ahead to, I can trust this person, this is what they’re going to do for me, and let’s jump in and do business. So, this is going to be a really good time for people to come together, build relationships and pass referrals to one another, because we’re all going to need it. The phone’s not going to be ringing like it was, I don’t think, when things go back to normal.
Glyna: Well, the loaded question that everyone wants to know, speaking of normal is, what are the future plans? I mean, are we going to continue everything online? Are we going back to person, to person or?
Meaghan Chitwood: Yes. We are going to go back to in person, we are absolutely going back to in person. The thing that we are worried about is getting everybody back to in person safely. The last thing I want is for someone to come to a BNI meeting, and this goes for any illness, but somebody comes to a BNI meeting, become really, really sick, take it home to their families and so on and so forth. You think about that domino effect, that is really one of the things that I’m really tense about. Right now, what we’re doing is we’re trying to figure out how do we get people back to in person meeting safely and legally. I’ll say that because when you look at the laws of how we would have to go back in person, in some places in our region, in Northern Alabama, you’d have to socially distance and wear a mask at the moment. I mean, I wear a mask when I go to the grocery store and every single time … I’d rather just not go to the grocery store than have to wear a mask in the grocery store. I don’t know what it is about me, but that’s how I feel about it, and you’re going to have other people in your chapters who are going to. So, part of this is going to be, how can we keep everybody safe? The other part of it is, is your chapter comfortable? And that means every individual in your chapter. So, as we start to talk about when are we going back to in person, we’re going to be doing anonymous surveys, how many people are ready to go back? So many just did a non-anonymous survey and it was only 50/50, 50 wanted to go back, and 50 percent were not ready. So, we want to really just make sure that we’re keeping the family together. We also don’t want to fracture chapters when it comes to this either. BNI online is our temporary solution, as soon as we can figure out is it lawful and safe and everybody’s ready to go, and that doesn’t necessarily mean 100%, but how do we accommodate every BNI member? And again, this is one where I felt like we have to talk about it. If you’re not comfortable, then that’s okay, I understand. If you’re really comfortable, that’s okay. I understand. Now, how do we reconcile all of this? Those are the conversations we’re having right now, and it’s very interesting conversations to be having. We want you back, I want you back in person, probably as bad as you want to be back in person, but I also think it’s just complicated.
Sarah: Absolutely. Well, I’ll tell you, if you haven’t realized the magic of BNI before, I think we’ve really established it here. I want to make sure we get your information out. For more information, go ahead to bni.com. Is there anything that we didn’t touch on today that you want to discuss or talk about?
Meaghan Chitwood: No. I would love for everyone who is listening to go and just see what it is. It might not be for you, it might be for you. We can sometimes say it’s like getting a haircut over the phone. I can talk about it all day long, but there’s no essence but you can’t really feel it and you can’t really see it and really understand what it was until you really go. You can visit, we visit openly right now, most of our chapters are online, all of our chapters in the United States are online so you can easily go and visit. I would recommend going to bni.com, finding a place in your local area and just visit, just visit. There’s no commitment to visiting at all.
Glyna: That’s perfect. All right. Sarah, it’s gone so fast. I could sit here all day and talk about BNI.
Sarah: I know.
Glyna: Sarah, you want to roll the hot seat?
Sarah: Now, let’s switch gears real quick and we’re going to do something fun called the hot seat, so let’s get …Okay, Meaghan, I’m going to ask you some questions. I didn’t catch that. What did you say?
Meaghan Chitwood: I’m a little nervous.
Sarah: Just take a deep breath, it will be okay.
Glyna: You’re going to be all right.
Meaghan Chitwood: There’s no wrong answers, right?
Sarah: No, there’s no wrong answers. So, 60 seconds, I’m going to just list off questions and you just give me the first answer that pops. Are you ready?
Meaghan Chitwood: I’m ready.
Sarah: Okay. Are you ready, Glyna?
Sarah: All right. Would you rather have a constant supply of the best coffee or a constant supply of the best snacks?
Meaghan Chitwood: Coffee.
Sarah: Are you a better dancer or a better singer?
Meaghan Chitwood: Ew! Are people watching? I’m going to say singer, but both of them are pretty terrible. Sorry.
Sarah: What’s your favorite junk food?
Meaghan Chitwood: Chocoholic Chunk, ice cream from Handel’s.
Sarah: That’s a good one. Are you spontaneous or do you plan everything?
Meaghan Chitwood: Spontaneous. That was easy.
Sarah: What happens more often? You can’t find your phone or you can’t find your car keys?
Meaghan Chitwood: Car keys.
Sarah: What’s your favorite thing to do when you’re not working?
Meaghan Chitwood: Water skiing or snow skiing, depending on the season.
Sarah: Okay. Are you better at math or better at spelling?
Meaghan Chitwood: Oh, math.
Sarah: What’s your favorite sport or hobby?
Meaghan Chitwood: Sport? I mean, we’re going into football season, college football is definitely my favorite sport to be very specific.
Glyna: See, that wasn’t too rough.
Meaghan Chitwood: No, that wasn’t too bad! Singing versus dancing, that was a tough one.
Sarah: What would your kids say?
Meaghan Chitwood: I dance by myself. We do sing some show tunes on the way to school though, so it would probably be singing.
Glyna: Well, it has been such a pleasure, Meaghan. We really appreciate you taking time out of your extremely busy life to come and visit with us for a little bit, so thank you again.
Meaghan Chitwood: Thank you so much for having me. This was so much fun and I appreciate the invitation really.
Glyna: Well, we also want to thank all of you for joining us today, we had such a great time. You can join us Tuesday at 8:00 AM for our marketing mix segment, and we’ll be back obviously next Friday at 8:00 AM with our special guest, Roxie Kelley with Your Career is A Business. Until then, have a great day.