Referral Business: Whether you are an independent business owner or a commission-based professional, referral business should be very important to you. With all the hype about Social Media, be it facebook, twitter, linkedin, youtube or others, business owners might forget that the easiest and best way to do business is via referral. This is where BNI Business Network International, commonly just called BNI, comes to your aid.
BNI Business Network International
BNI is the largest and best-known referral networking organization of its kind in the world. Established in 1985, and now with over 7,000 chapters in 64 countries, and over 200,000 members, BNI has developed and perfected the formula for successful referral networking. Operating under the philosophy of “Givers Gain” (YOU give ME business, and I will return the favour), BNI has several unique features:
BNI understands that referral networking is more like ‘farming’ than it is like ‘hunting. Meaning: It takes time to build the required trust between members in a successful referral network. This trust is built over weeks of meetings, establishing contacts and slowly building a relationship between the members. These meetings are structured, and definitely NOT just schmooze-fests. Members give 60-second infomercials about their business, and once a week one member is granted 10 to 15 minutes of presentation time, during which he/she can inform the rest of the members about new developments in their business.
Only 1 Member per profession:
Each BNI chapter allows only 1 member per profession. So, only 1 lawyer, 1 accountant, 1 REALTOR®, 1 travel agent…and so on. The benefit behind this is obvious: Once YOU are in a chapter, none of your competitors can join and steal your business. This helps create and nurture an environment of support between all members of the chapter. Membership fees for an entire year are comparable to a couple of newspaper ads, and we know how quickly the effectiveness of those ads diminishes, dont we? To put it into terms a REALTOR® can relate to: A one-year membership in BNI is LESS than the cost of a single bus-bench advertisement.
As a past president of the Accelerators chapter in Winnipeg, I can certainly attest to the effectiveness of BNI Business Network International as a business and philosophy. Our vibrant, high-energy chapter currently has 28 members, and we are open to new applications. BNI has literally dozens of different categories, many of which are open in our chapter. Over the past 2 years, our chapter has been responsible for a growing portion of my business. As an added bonus, I have met a number of very competent professionals, whose services I can recommend to my own clients.
Whether you are a real estate agent, lawyer, accountant, travel agent, painter, plumber or any number of professional trades and/or business owners, you owe it to yourself to check out BNI Business Network International.