As busy professionals, we all have full schedules. It’s only natural that you might be hesitant to carve out an hour and half of your day to meet with a bunch of strangers to talk business. BNI®, however, offers so much more than you might expect from a business networking group.
BNI® is a worldwide business networking group made up of members from a variety of industries who come together to help each other grow their businesses. Each BNI® chapter meets weekly for an hour and half of business networking, where members help each other understand each other’s businesses and more importantly - how to refer each other business. There is much more to a BNI® membership beyond the weekly meetings, but that’s where it all begins.
Whether or not you are a BNI® member, you are welcome to visit a chapter near you. Many people are first introduced to BNI® through an invite from another BNI® member, but you can visit regardless of whether you were invited. And, since meetings are happening virtually right now, you can visit a BNI® chapter anywhere in the world.
You really have nothing to lose, other than an hour and a half of your time. So, why is visiting BNI® an hour well spent?
It is difficult to find a close comparison to BNI®; it is truly a unique networking organization that allows businesses to come together and help each other grow. Sure, there may be a multitude of networking events and groups that you can visit, attend, and join, but BNI® goes above and beyond anything you might expect from a networking group.
Because BNI® is built on the philosophy that “givers gain,” everyone is genuinely there to help one another succeed. In a BNI® meeting, members and visitors are given the opportunity to speak about their businesses while the rest of the group remains attentive and invested in learning about their business. It is in everyone’s best interest to come well-prepared to each weekly meeting, both to talk about their business offerings and to listen for how they can refer their peers.
Imagine walking into a room of people who are all waiting to hear what you do, so they can figure out how they can refer you business. Wouldn’t you want to get to know a few of these people, if not all of them?
It is rare to attend a BNI® meeting without making at least one connection, regardless of whether it results in a sale for either party. But making even one connection within a group of individuals dedicated to helping each other’s businesses grow, is definitely worth an hour out of your day.
Referrals are one of the main goals for members involved in BNI®. People join to get referrals in order to grow their businesses. But in order to get referrals, as the philosophy says, members need to give referrals and build trust within the group.
When you join a BNI® group, over time, you could receive multiple referrals at each weekly meeting. Your chapter essentially becomes your own personal sales force, and you become part of theirs.
Imagine having anywhere from 15-40+ people going out and referring your company to people they know, because they are dedicated to seeing your business succeed? When you look at it that way, the question becomes, why haven’t you visited a BNI® chapter yet?
As a member, at each weekly BNI® meeting, you have the opportunity to give a 60-second talk about your business and/or the types of referrals you are looking for. 60 seconds is shorter than you think. In order to get your message across clearly and concisely, you have to work at improving your communication skills so you can get the most out of your 60 seconds each week.
Not everyone enjoys speaking in front of a room full of people, but most members are not professional public speakers, so you are not alone. You can use these weekly presentations as a way to gain confidence in public speaking, and to improve your ability to communicate your business offerings more efficiently.
Members also have the opportunity to do a 10-minute presentation periodically, which provides yet another opportunity to hone in on your speaking skills. Communication is key to the success of any business, so having the ability to practice these skills weekly is extremely beneficial, and it’s all included in your membership. Even as a visitor, you’ll get to watch and learn from professionals who spend each week trying to make their 60-second presentations as compelling and clear as possible.
You already have a few informal networks that you belong to, whether you realize it or not. The people you see and talk to you on a regular basis are a network of acquaintances made up of friends, family, and colleagues. If you belong to any clubs, a gym, a class, etc., then you belong to these additional informal networks.
When you visit or join a BNI® chapter, you are joining a network of people from all over your town, your state, and beyond. So, just by stepping into the room, you are likely expanding your network far beyond what it was before you visited a BNI® chapter. In just one hour, you could potentially double the size of your professional network, just by showing up and engaging with a new group of people.
Each BNI® chapter is made up of individuals from many different industries and backgrounds. If you visit a BNI® chapter, you’ll get to hear each member speak about their specific business, including details about who they are, what they do, who their clients are, and how they run their business.
In just 90 minutes, you will learn more about the way a variety of people do business than you ever thought you wanted or needed to know. You may even find a product or service you didn’t know you were looking for, or that someone you know could benefit from. It’s nearly impossible to attend a BNI® meeting and not come out of it having learned something valuable.
Whether you’ve been in business for a while or are just starting out, visiting your local BNI® chapter is absolutely worth your time. Taking just one hour out of your day to visit a local chapter and see what it’s all about could change your life. And if you do decide to join, becoming a BNI® member might be one of the best things you do for your professional career.
So, when are you planning to visit a BNI Northeast Florida chapter?