Today’s guest is Christel from Business Network International (BNI).
Simply put, BNI is a networking group that meets on a weekly basis and they bring referrals for each other. BNI came about because entrepreneurs will tell other entrepreneurs that you have to network. Many don’t know what that means. Therefore, people will go to “networking” events and feel that “it doesn’t work”. This is because the expectations are skewed. BNI is a referral business generating network. There are specific types of network functions, it depends on how you network.
There are so many opportunities available, many chapters. Each chapter attracts different types of business people, which leads to a different focus and culture. It depends on the make up of the group, and what businesses started the group.
Part of the format of the meeting is, each week, each member stands up and gives a brief “infomercial” on their business. This helps with public speaking and also giving a direct summary of your business and what you do. This leads to speaking about your business with more confidence having to do this each week. When you speak with confidence, people will believe in what you are saying. It is quite clear when you are speaking with other entrepreneurs who is a member of BNI. They will be succinct in describing what they do for a living and what their business is about.
When people are not practiced in talking about what they do, they tend to provide an entire list of products and services they offer. If you are meeting someone for the first time, this can cause people to “tune out” what you are saying, and that is what people remember. BNI helps you train your mind, to capture what you do, be specific, and you can bring value to that person.
A way of thinking is, if I had to ask someone to help me find new clients, or introduce me to new clients, what kind of coaching would I give them. This makes it focused. Having specifics makes it easier for people to introduce you to people you want to meet.
People tend to not ask each other, where do you network, and how do you get your business. Business people don’t seem to have these conversations with each other. They are hesitant to ask how they built their business.
Speaking in a focused manner, makes you sound like you know what you are talking about. If you are going to be an “expert” in your business you should sound like you know your business.
Networking groups are not going to make you money over night. It is relationships that you are building. These turn into profitable relationships.
People said that smart phones would change BNI, that you wouldn’t need face to face meetings and it would be to onerous on people’s time. Ten years later, people still want to be introduced to people, there is still the desire for face to face meetings. The smart phone has enhanced communications, it has not replaced them.
If you are able to maintain the stability of your business through the big dramatic downturns of “Wall Street”, if you turn off the TV, you can still keep your business afloat.