As a proven small business success secret, BNI has definitely been worth the time and effort put forth over the last 11 months. In my previous article about BNI, Business Development Strategies – The BNI Way, I was still new to the Downtown Biz Links chapter, getting my feet wet and forging alliances.
And this early part of the journey proved to me that not all BNI chapters are the same. In 2012 I set out to find a local chapter to see what it was all about. The first chapter I visited in didn’t work out, so I didn’t join. Five months later I looked into another chapter and determined that if I was going to give it a go that this one would be the one to test. And so test I have. Here’s the back-story.
As an offline marketer who converted to the online world in 1995 and then again in 2010(more on this in a future article), I knew the potential for the web and email was tremendous, and BNI could be one of the channels to allow us to connect with our target market of small business owners.
This journey was propelled after a talk with one of my mentors in August of 2010 as he recommended that I find offline ways to connect with small business owners looking to market their businesses online.
Now I must add that it would have paid to join BNI just to get to know the Regional Executive Director, Barb Olson, as her warmth, caring and knowledge of BNI, let alone people, has made the experience that much better.
Without Barb I believe I might have passed altogether and not gotten involved. So her being available both live and electronically has made this journey that much more enjoyable. Her experience and intuitiveness have proven to me that when it comes to networking groups, she is a rare find.
With all that said, I’m not sure that I would have continued with BNI if it wasn’t for her. So after many years of visiting other networking groups, chambers, and associations, I determined that BNI was going to be where I invested my time and energy.
The whole ‘Givers Gain’ philosophy has been one that I had to experience first hand to believe. After all, one can participate and be seen but not give and refer.
Over the last year BNI has proven to be a good source of referrals and fertile ground for budding relationships. Although it did not go as fast as I thought it would, several of these relationships have turned out to be very fruitful and a few others are starting to show signs of blossom.
The bottom line…
In this case, ‘A Proven Small Business Success Secret’ is not really a secret at all. It’s finding the right fit and then committing the time and effort on a weekly basis.
Is BNI for every small business and organization? No.
Is it going to work for you and your business?
Only you will know and time will tell. Go research, visit and test.
In closing for today…
As the New Year is just starting to pick up steam, I can see how BNI will have a positive impact on SBM’s growth and also how I can further connect and refer to people both inside and outside of our chapter.
More to come so stay tuned.