I have been a member of BNI since the summer of 2002 and I am now at BNI Mayfair. During that time I have learned many skills, and I think it would be useful for anyone running their own business. BNI doesnt suit every one, as there are several rules to follow, it’s a big commitment, and the meetings occur very early in the morning. But a recent thread on Twitter inspired me to write this post.
For those who don’t know, BNI is a professional networking organisations where members meet weekly for breakfast and help each other by finding new business for each other and making referrals. These are tracked and statistics are carefully kept for attendance, participation and the amount of business passed.
I posted a Tweet with the hashtag (which is a clickable topic on Twitter) #ThatsWhyIDoBNI after doing some quick calculations.
But it’s important to note the other benefits of BNI so I have written a list of 11 things people will get out of membership.
- Public Speaking practice – because you go to BNI every week and do a 60 second speech, you get lots of practice in public speaking
- Learning to speak concisely – this is related to the above but there is an individual skill beyond speaking confidently, and that is getting your message accross within a short space of time. This has been compared to an elevator pitch as well
- Taglines – many BNI members add a tagline to the end of their 60 seconds – and some people don’t have these when they join BNI but after being inspired by seeing others, they come up with clever ones. Have a look at the blog post I wrote about this recently.
- Making friends – everyone I have spoken to about BNI has said they have made new friends through it – even a connection with just one or two members makes it all worthwhile.
- Other networking opportunities – through BNI you will get to hear about other networking events – open networking events, monthly lunches, awards events, workshops and seminars and often its contacts you get there that will help you grow your business
- An education on how to network – there are many behaviours you can pick-up from other members which will improve your networking skills – for some this will come more naturally than for others, but it definitely can always be improved.
- A focus group – for testing out new products, marketing, and even new businesses
- Joint ventures – It happens quite often in BNI groups that members team up for pitches, new business ventures, events, partnerships and collaborations. Seeing each other every week at BNI means you can easily meet regularly to move things along.
- Knowledge of other types of businesses – Every week in the 60 seconds and the 10minute speeches, members share a bit about what they do, and through this you get a broad understanding of many different types of businesses. Through one to ones with other members, and with the potential clients and introducers they refer you to, you get even more.
- Meeting the introverts – at parties, non member networking groups, and open networking events, introverts are a rarity and may not meet quite as many people. But so called “introverts” can join BNI and over time, they will be able to get to know other members and vice versa. Often introverts are the funniest and most intelligent people to meet and it’s interesting to see them come out of their “shells”.
- Business referrals – This is the reason people join BNI in the first place – and yes, you do get these, and you learn how to along the way.
There are more benefits but I thought I would let this be a time for other BNI members to comment on this post and add their feedback!