Don’t Complicate the Invitation

When someone invites a guest to visit their BNI meeting or to a business networking event, they may be so passionate that sometimes others may feel it’s a bit… pushy. Most likely, the member is genuinely excited about inviting someone to meet the other members of their group and their enthusiasm bubbles over.

And then there are times when people explain things WAY too much, making the simple invitation much more complicated than it needs to be.

The Birthday Party

A BNI member, Shawn, shared a story with me about his child’s birthday party. He and his wife planned a party for their young son’s birthday celebration. They took care of all the planning details – selected a theme, scheduled the location, got prizes, got the cake. They did almost every single thing that was needed for the birthday party, except… they forgot one very important item.
They forgot the guests! They forgot to invite any of their son’s friends to come to the party.

A week before the party, he and his wife started calling the parents of all the children who were friends with their son. To be able to reach everyone in an expedient manner, they had to be quick, so they knew they needed to ‘get in, invite, and get out’. 

The conversations went like this, “Hi, my son is turning five, can you come to the party?”
“Hey, the birthday party is this weekend, can you and your child come?”

“Hello, here’s where the party is. Can you be there?”

Guess what? Everybody that they invited said YES and the party was a success. Looking back on it, Shawn realized that it was a very easy, very simple, very direct invitation, with the result that every answer was YES.

He also had the revelation that he had been overcomplicating the invitation to his BNI meeting. He would approach people and tell them everything (and then some) about the networking meeting. If he had used that same approach for the invitation to the birthday party, it would have sounded like this:

“Hey, my son is having a birthday party this weekend. Now, his actual birthday was yesterday, but we’re having the party next week, because that was the timing. It’s going to be at this bounce house location. And when you walk in there’ll be a table there. And when you get to the table, you’ve got to sign the waiver. After you sign the waiver, you’ll see some bins to the right-hand side, you can put his present in there, although you don’t have to get him a present if you don’t want to get him a present. And then you’ve got to have your kid watch the safety video. Oh, and make sure he brings socks, and he wears socks, and then…”  And it goes on and on and on.

Whew! THAT is a very good example of how we overcomplicate the invitation to our business networking groups. We overcomplicate and they get overwhelmed.  

Changing the Invite

Shawn decided to simplify the invitation for business professionals to visit his networking group. “I’m meeting with 70 of my referral partners, and I’d like to introduce you to them.” Or “Hey, I’m having a business meeting with a bunch of referral partners.” Or “I’m having a meeting with this specific professional who I know can pass you some business. Can you join us?”

When he started making the invitation easy and direct, people started saying Yes. He found that simplifying it made it easier to share the invitation in a conversational format, which is much more engaging.

It’s important to remember that you are extending an invitation to visit the group, not to join the group. You can’t talk somebody into joining something they haven’t yet seen, and nobody wants to feel pressured before they even walk in the door. It is simply an invitation to meet other business professionals. It can just be a few easy questions: “Do you get business from networking?”  “Would you like to meet 85 business professionals at my networking meeting?”

When we are so enthusiastic that we say, “Hey, you have to come to this group, you have to come and meet this particular member!” we may go a bit overboard and complicate the invitation.

When we say, “Hey, I would like to introduce you to a person that I think will be a good connection for your business,” the focus is on them. By clearly sharing our intention to connect them to a particular person that is going to benefit their business, our authentic desire to help is more clearly understood. When it comes to inviting, remember to keep it simple because LESS is usually much MORE effective.

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