In this episode, we’re going to take you behind the scenes of the global referral networking group BNI with video legend in the making Bob Greenup. Bob’s had amazing results pivoting BNI. An organisation typically dependant on face-to-face business interactions, now (during COVID-19) operates over 400 virtual networking interactions in a (ZOOM world) every week.

Bob Greenup is the Executive Director of BNI Sydney Central & South Regions.

Established in 1985, BNI Global has become the world’s largest business referral network with over 270,000 members across 70 countries.

He’s also CEO of the MAP Institute, Managing Director of The Referral Edge and what I noticed was Bob’s most recent milestone, pivoting the organisation & 100’s of business owners (usually dependent on face-to-face interactions), now operating their networking groups via Zoom.

Is your mantra, givers gain?


Absolutely. I love helping people be successful. I’ve been around for a long time. You can tell by the bush been around for a long time. I’ve been in business for over 50 years. Effectively, I’ve been through lots of journeys. During that time, I’m at the stage of my life where I really do love giving back to the others who are actually going through some of the journeys I’ve been in the past. So anything I can do to help them accelerate that, I’m loving it.

What is BNI?


BNI is basically a referral marketing program. It puts together peer-to-peer selected. Probably the most important distinction is that our clients who are the members are actually in this referral marketing group, select their clients. They find the people that they want to work with and they hold them accountable. So it’s a weekly meeting that effectively puts people who are selected. People who’ve got good refer ability, good reputation, good credibility with a pool of reputations, and leverage those reputations to get introduced when the time is right for those people that need their particular solutions.

We have quality business people who select other quality business people to form a cohesive community. A community where they can help each other grow and leverage their mutual communities. It’s something we’ve been going for 35 years now. The last six weeks have been the biggest transformation ever in 35 years, but it’s been successful for 35 years and as you said, it’s in 70 countries. It was started off as a cooperative back 35 years ago. It’s still pretty much run like a cooperative with a member select the members.

We provide the program to help them run the program so quickly. We provide the training the structure the education, to make sure that they can actually deliver the experience that they’ve all had over the last 35 years. So where there is a facilitator, helping them make sure that the groups are accountable, and they get the results that the bicycle had been experiencing. It’s an organisation that does over AU$25 billion in the referred business between the 270,000 members each year.

How did you transition so many people to virtual interactions via Zoom?


Our whole model has been face-to-face group meetings. We’ve been discouraging of anything that was online because we really like that human interaction. I think I can remember, on the 14th of March, Saturday night, we got a communication from our global office that we are all going online on Monday morning.

In order to do that, we had to take literally 10s of thousands, hundreds of thousands of people, and get them to understand Zoom. Understand how to basically run their same program in an online environment, and get through all of the technical hurdles. Actually, our program actually transitioned from a face-to-face experience into an online experience without any drama at all.

The biggest hassle we had is that a lot of our members don’t necessarily have a digital interface. So we had to retrain 270,000 members in five days to actually create an online version of the program we’ve delivered for 35 years. A part of that transition, of course, is because of the nature of our community. It’s not run by an individual. It’s run by the members. So when we had to make this transition, they took full ownership of it. They stepped up to it, they stepped into it, they actually worked with us to actually solve it at each group level. Their effort and their dedication to making sure this was going to work was really amazing.

How are you using video to market BNI?


When we get people coming in, to our businesses, we do a lot of training, a lot of education. Without the ability to basically record that and delivered in a continually standard sort of message, I’ll just spend all my time doing nothing but literally live training. BNI university is an online education to learn how to do develop your referral marketing. There’s like literally hundreds of hours of training in there. And it’s all done using video and presentation tools as well. But it’s really quite a step up in the last five years in terms of being able to make sure that the messaging that’s getting out to the clients that need it is available easily. It’s accessible and consistent. So the messaging doesn’t change from trainer to trainer from day-to-day. It’s always the same message being delivered. So that consistency is critical to making sure that we have an emergence experience for everyone.

Video for us is an extremely powerful productivity tool to make sure that we can actually replicate a piece of knowledge or a piece of education and then leverage it and leverage it and leverage it. I mean, I don’t worry we’d be with that video.

What’s the future for first impressions presentations?


When you’re running an online meeting, you need to think about the experience of the people who you’ve never met before. Provide an experience to look after and nurtured them. Most importantly, you’ve got to make sure your message is clear, crisp, and to the point to make sure it gets through to the target that you want. Now more than ever you are selling through that screen.



There is a growing trend of ‘Video Marketing’ but where start? Shoot, produce, campaign strategy and what about implementation? The learning gap is vast and most people obsess over ‘how’ they should be producing video content instead of ‘why’ they should be producing videos. ‘Video Legend’ explores the emotional connection of video that ultimately leads to positive outcomes for small to medium-sized businesses. Outcomes that result in their audience thinking differently about their brand, product or service, and actual connecting and taking action. This podcast aims to explore the life of content after video production and what it has done for growing businesses.

Hosted by Chris Schwager and Brendan Southall from Ridge Films.

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