Will Joining A Business Networking Group (BNI) Help Grow My Business?
Are you new to business?
Are you ready to take the next step of promoting your business locally?
Are you a local brick and mortar operation?
Are you looking for a customer base to get started with?
Do you need to improve your professional skills? Your speaking skills? Your people skills? Your presentation skills? Your time management skills?
If you can answer, "Yes," to these questions then imagine one group that can do all of that. It's called Business Networking International (BNI). I was a member of BNI for six years.
There are other groups available, so go ahead and visit them too. Everyone has their own idea about what works for their business the best. Most groups will allow you to visit 1-3 times before they require that you join their group or 'officially' become a member.
Being a BNI member for 6 years was nothing but a positive experience for me. I quit after six years because I felt that it was time to allow some 'fresh blood' into the group and I didn't want to stagnate.
Get Up Off the Couch
Join A Business Network Opportunity
The BNI motto is, "Givers Gain," meaning that the people who give the most to the group get the most back - That goes with anything.
Some groups are better than others because some groups allow MLM members to join - never a good thing with BNI. The reason is that MLM people are looking for a different kind of customer than a brick and mortar business is looking for. It creates some difficulty to refer people to an MLM for many reasons. It also can create some hostility between members and if there is a problem then it will most often be the MLM business that is asked to leave.
Most BNI groups require your presence weekly at 6 am, most only have coffee, not breakfast. They all have rigid guidelines about contributing to the group, getting a substitute if you are absent, and not going over 3 absences in a specific time frame (less than one year-there are penalties for people who abuse that).
You are also required to prepare and deliver a 30 second to one minute elevator speech every week and on occasion you must also prepare and deliver 3 minute and 10 minute speeches (handouts help). And at some point you must accept a leadership role for 1 year in the group - President, V.P., etc., although you may decline it is frowned upon.
These are all things that helped me gain confidence and grow as a business professional, but I became so busy that the time commitment was too much and chose to leave the group to let in a different bookkeeper (they only allow 1 profession per group - 1 bookkeeper, 1 plumber . . . ) so that I didn't stagnate in the group. I felt good knowing that it was my time to leave.
Business Networking Cash Investment
Consider any fees in whatever group you join. Joining BNI requires an up-front investment of over $300.00 a year plus one time joining fees.
For some people who are only starting out in business you may want to know that there is an option to joining a BNI group. If you like a group then visit up to your allotted 'visitor' meetings and then sign up to be a substitute for a BNI group or even several groups in your area. When I left the group you could get a substitute and that substitute didn't have to join the group and pay the membership costs. It was the most cost-effective way (at the time) to get the benefits without the up-front costs (especially for beginning business owners who may be strapped for cash). If you are a substitute often enough in one particular group then that group you sub in may ask you to become a member. You are obviously getting the benefits without the costs and that's not fair to the other members.
Want To Save $$$! - Be A Substitute
Substitutes prevent people from accumulating an absence. And as a substitute, once you are done representing the person you are substituting for, you may give a 30-second 'elevator speech' about your own business and pass out your own business cards - If there is no one else in the group in your profession (no other internet marketers, bookkeepers, plumbers, etc.).
If you are a substitute and your profession duplicates someone else in the group then be creative enough to use a part of your business that compliments but doesn't duplicate any business in the group and you'll be allowed to give your personal presentation that way too. Being creative is a little challenging, but if you are classy about it nobody will mind. For instance when I was a sub for an accountant in a different group and he wanted me to talk about his bookkeeping service that day, I did. When I was done with his speech, I also mentioned that I owned a bookkeeping business, but I only talked about doing payroll and came away with three new referrals for quarterly payroll filings that day - a service the accountant I was representing did not provide. That meant $180.00 + (four times a year) to me for exactly 2 minutes of talking to get the referrals. The person I was subbing for added to my credibility because he was an accountant.
So, will joining a business networking group help you grow your business? It did for me. It can for you, but only if you are willing to contribute to the goals of the group - no matter what group you join.
Besides that, when you are new to business it helps motivate you to be somewhere once a week and that will help you with a positive mindset.
The first step is owning a business. The second step is promoting it. The next step is up to you. Good luck!
. . . "Just Sayin' . . . "
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