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Visitor versus guest debate

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1 comment

  • Official comment
    Jeremy Walsh

    Bobbie,

    Great to hear from you and thank you for your very detailed thoughts. Adding this visitor/guest/substitute designation has been one of our most highly requested features over the years and we are happy to be able to deliver it.  It will, of course, raise the opportunity to have these discussions and clarifications globally!

    Kindly note that everyone and anyone is welcome to visit a BNI Chapter and everyone that walks into a BNI meeting provides some type of value.  Even people that may not be able to apply for whatever reason.  For example, we would welcome my mother to visit to experience the BNI culture even though she has been retired for several years.  She could still utilize the other member resources and provide referrals to the members for any of her friends that might need help.

    The VISITOR, GUEST and SUBSITUTE designations, which are verified by the International Board of Advisors (a member only group that reviews and suggests BNI policy) really are an internal designation that we use among ourselves in BNI and do not relate directly to the fact that we welcome all people to come to a meeting.

    If you go back to the "why" a BNI Visitor designation is associated with being able to potentially submit an app, we do need to look back to the purpose of the Visitor designation and the PALMS report.  One of our core values is Accountability and the PALMS report is our accountability tracker for ourselves and our chapter.

    From that perspective, one of our accountable goals is to continue to grow the chapter.  Growing the chapter requires potential applicants. That is why potential applicants, on their first visit, are tracked in the PALMS and the member is given a "1" in the PALMS report in the V column.  This shows their contributions to helping to grow the group.  Note that a the person marking attendance can override the suggested default and the VP has the final decision about credit in the PALMS report before submitting.

    It is also worth noting that keeping the PALMS report "clean" with true, first time visitors and designating other attendees accordingly also helps to keep many other statistics throughout BNI.  For example the chapter traffic lights has a metric for conversion rate, which is taken directly from the PALMS and divides the number of new members by the number of visitors.  If "guests" and substitutes were included in that metric, it would cause the statistic to plummet.

    Hope this helps to give a better understanding of the "why" behind these designations.

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