The Hidden Power of Visiting Other BNI Chapters

Albert Stoll, co-founder of Albert G. Stoll, Jr., a Law Corporation in San Francisco, had met Dr. Kim Makoi, a chiropractor, when they were both members of the Business Builders BNI Chapter in 2004.

After visiting that chapter a few times, Al’s partner, Walter A. Haynes IV, also got to know Dr. Makoi.


Now, Let’s Flash Forward to 2015

Dr. Makoi was treating a client who had lost his partner in a horrific house fire on Christmas Night, 2013. That client also sustained burns to his face and hands.

The gentleman had told Dr. Makoi about the fire that had ruined his home and forever affected his life. The client was nearing the end of a two-year statute of limitations on a possible lawsuit, so Dr. Makoi referred him in late 2015 to Al and Walt at their law firm to further investigate the cause of the mysterious fire.

But all of that only happened because Walt had visited other BNI chapters and knew Dr. Makoi.

That relationship eventually led to Mr. Stoll’s law firm settling a $9 million lawsuit in early 2018 for the client who had been referred to him by the chiropractor.


Al’s Thoughts on Why He Visits Other BNI Chapters

“Each time I visit another BNI chapter I usually learn something new about business.  For example, when I visited BNI Embarcadero, I saw how the content writer, graphic designer videographer, SEO and social media members each worked together to help business owners with website development and promotion.  I walked out of the meeting with a solid understanding of all the different skill sets involved in a well developed and maintained website.”

“I try and visit other BNI groups at least once a month and am constantly surprised by the relationships that begin to be cultivated.  Attorney Gene Halavanau asked me to substitute at BNI Motivators, as luck would have it, I ended up meeting a representative for New York Life which ended up being the host location for our monthly luncheon meeting of the Attorney Action Club.”

“As far as referrals go, at least 40% of our personal injury referrals originate from members of BNI groups that I have visited or met at BNI trainings over the years.”  “There is no better time than now to visit a BNI Group. This Chinese Proverb sums it up, “The best time to plant a tree was 20 years ago. The second best time is now.”


Walt’s Philosophy of Visiting Other BNI Chapters

When I visit other chapters I am always struck by the diversity of talent and skills each of the unique groups possess and how my firm can draw from those talents and expertise to further our needs and ultimately our business success.

Visiting regional chapters consistently serves to remind me that no single BNI group is self-contained unto itself. What do I mean by that? Well, Ace BNI (a tree I planted for myself 12 years ago) is undoubtedly packed full of heavy-hitters and many are the best in the game in their specialized areas of expertise.

Yet, Ace, on average, is historically a 25-member chapter. That guarantees that not every service I rely upon is covered within the four walls of my group. However, the greater BNI umbrella, that makes up our San Francisco neighborhood of like-minded professionals, bridge the gaps that exist from time to time.  And, better yet, they are all a single visit away.

Sticking with the proverb, I ask, what is better than the tree planted 20 years ago? The answer, of course, is to have planted two dissimilar trees, or a grove, or groves separated by a river, a hillside and so on. Diversification, is, afterall, a strategy for survival.

And, I offer, survival of business beyond the basics of a sound business model, competency, persistency and a dose of good luck is rooted in contingencies and long view considerations to weather the proverbial storm, the unforeseen. Visiting other BNI chapters and nurturing those connections not only serve you and your business in the present, but it broadens your exposure, your personal network and your business’s ability to survive the rough times in the foreseeable and unforeseeable future.

How many fruitful trees did Ivan Misner have in the early 80’s?  Now ask yourself, “how many fruitful trees do I have now?”


Why Gil Visits Other BNI Chapters

“I’ve been a BNI member for over 13 years and have visited most of the Marin County chapters as well as quite a few in San Francisco,” said Gil Zeimer, currently VP of BNI Embarcadero and past BNI Ambassador at Large.

“Since the majority of chapters do not have a writer on their rosters, I’ve found these visits to be a great source of referrals and closed business for writing websites, blog, and other projects –– including the ability to meet both Al and Walt over the years at my chapter and at theirs.

I’ve also reunited with old friends from my youth in San Francisco who are now vibrant members of Marin chapters. A few of them have even graced me with website and blog projects that led to closed business.”


It’s All About Building Relationships Through Givers Gain

Don’t be bashful. Put yourself out there. Visit other BNI chapters as a sub or a visitor.

After all, you never know who you’re going to meet or where it can lead for money in your pocket through a word-of-mouth referral, such as a multi-million law case.