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BNI Or Not To BNI: The Networking Question

Nov 5

BNI Or Not To BNI Or Not To BNI

You might be wondering what BNI is. BNI stands for Business Networking International. It is the world's most prestigious business referral organization, with more than 291,000 members and more than 10,800 chapters worldwide. BNI runs a network of franchises across diverse territories.

BNI was created by Dr. Ivan Misner, who established the group over thirty years ago. It's simple to comprehend Each week, you meet with the members of your chapter and any other interested guests to find out more about the businesses each other. The idea is that once you've come to know each other, and feel comfortable with the business owners of other businesses, the more likely you'll recommend the business to each other.

Who is in the Room?

The majority of members are small-scale business owners, independent contractors, or sales representatives.

Chapters are diverse however they are generally organized into 4 groups called power teams. The Business Services Team focuses on B2B clients. The Health Services Team is focused on various aspects of health care. The members of the Home Services Team focus on the homeownership aspect of real estate. The Personal Services Team focuses on B2C offerings such as a florist, personal financial services, photography, or an auto shop. They work together to build mutually beneficial relationships that benefit from the synergies that naturally occur between various buyer experiences.

Is BNI worth it?

You are what you put in the same way as everything else. Certain types of businesses and individuals are better suited to BNI than others. The more simple and more accessible your business's structure is then the more likely you will be to succeed using BNI. Specialty companies may need to put in more effort to connect to niche networks through BNI However, it's possible to make it work.

People are more likely to be able to trust and love you if you are friendly and outgoing. However, it's not a contest of personality and even introverts are able to do very well in BNI. Introverts are often successful in one-on-one sessions that are essential to BNI.

Common Misconceptions regarding BNI

You don't join the BNI group to market to the other members. Once you know, like, and trust other people it is natural to buy from each other. However, that is not the goal of the group. The purpose is to tap into one the other's professional and personal networks.

BNI is much more than a random event of networking. Meetings are scheduled according to a specific agenda. The goal is to generate referrals using the BNI model.

Who shouldn't be a part of a BNI Group?

  • If you're not able to commit to six to eight hours per week of networking-related activities Don't join.
  • If you're hoping to just appear and not put any real effort into becoming an efficient networker, BNI is not going to work for you.
  • If you are operating with a small network or have a very small number of customers, it may be difficult to exchange referrals with the group.
  • If your business is customer-centric your business may be spread across too many BNI seat categories to fit into their model.
  • If you're not serious about generating work from networking don't bother. Networking is lots of effort to be worth it.
  • If you don't want to build business relationships and be an active participant, don't join.
  • If you are in a specific or elite market niche it could be difficult to justify your time.

Would I recommend that I attend a Meeting? Yes!

I have found the BNI culture to be very positive and welcoming. The laughter was always abundant and there was no pressure on guests to join. It's a pleasant morning with great businesspeople from many different industries. There's a high possibility that you'll meet someone whom you would prefer to do business with.

Use the opportunity to experience the process, and then ask questions such as the ones I've offered. If you are impressed by what's displayed and visible and feel that you can stick with it, then great! It's worth giving it a shot for a year. It's okay if you don't succeed.

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BNI St. Clair County

929 Edgewood Dr O'Fallon, IL 62269