Home – New Forums Face-to-face meetups & events Thoughts on BNI Networking Group (Business Network International)

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  • #967177
    Barb
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    Hi everyone,

    Has anyone been to BNI or a similar networking group? Did you find this beneficial to you and your business?

    I would be interested to hear feedback regarding such networking groups.

    Thanks,

    #1024267
    mybusinesshelp
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    HI Barb

    BNI, as with any other networking group is only worthwhile if you are aware of what you want/need from the group and whether that group can deliver it.

    I would go along to one for a visit to see you like it, some groups you click with and some you don’t.

    Also look into other networking type groups too, dependant on your service and whether the people who attend these groups would need it.

    Money may also be a deciding factor for you. Some groups are more expensive than others. For example, I am a member of the Sydney Hills Chamber and as a result i have joined a Referal Plus Team which is just like BNI but included in the membership cost with no extra fees.

    There are informal networks also like the Sydney Womens Network.

    Anyway, all the best Barb!

    Amanda

    #1024268
    Barb
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    mybusinesshelp, post: 28694 wrote:
    HI Barb

    BNI, as with any other networking group is only worthwhile if you are aware of what you want/need from the group and whether that group can deliver it.

    I would go along to one for a visit to see you like it, some groups you click with and some you don’t.

    Also look into other networking type groups too, dependant on your service and whether the people who attend these groups would need it.

    Money may also be a deciding factor for you. Some groups are more expensive than others. For example, I am a member of the Sydney Hills Chamber and as a result i have joined a Referal Plus Team which is just like BNI but included in the membership cost with no extra fees.

    There are informal networks also like the Sydney Womens Network.

    Anyway, all the best Barb!

    Amanda

    Thanks Amanda!!

    I’ve enquired about another local networking group who run along the same guidelines as BNI, but are quite a bit cheaper and meet fortnightly rather than weekly (both deciding factors for me as I think meeting weekly is too much), and I’ve also enquired about a couple of other local groups – Chamber of Commerce being one and a Woman’s network another, however they seem to be a bit sluggish in getting back to me.

    I think networking and word of mouth are powerful marketing/sales tools, so will keep pushing in that direction.

    Kind regards,

    #1024269
    TheWebExpert
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    Barb,
    It depends on how serious you are about your networking.
    BNI is a professional networking organisation with a format that has been tried and tested in thousands of groups all around the world. To commit to meeting every week – is a reason the groups are generally successful.

    Chambers of Commerce are not the same as a BNI one business per category referral network.
    Vee

    #1024270
    mybusinesshelp
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    • Total posts: 128
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    Hi Barb

    I can’t speak for other Chambers but just to clarify, the Hills Business Chamber have RPT groups (Referral Plus Teams) which work like BNI i.e. one business per category and it is included in the membership with no ongoing fees – this is an affordable opton for some businesses who can’t afford other networking options.

    All the best!

    Amanda

    TheWebExpert, post: 28952 wrote:
    Barb,
    It depends on how serious you are about your networking.
    BNI is a professional networking organisation with a format that has been tried and tested in thousands of groups all around the world. To commit to meeting every week – is a reason the groups are generally successful.

    Chambers of Commerce are not the same as a BNI one business per category referral network.
    Vee

    #1024271
    MattR
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    • Total posts: 196
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    Hi Barb

    I was a member of a BNI group for 5 years through a previous employer. I moved on from that employer so stopped going to BNI. During those five years I tracked the referrals we received and gave a dollar value to them and similarly estimated the same with the referrals we gave. When you factor in the time cost (or opportunity cost) of attending the meetings etc. the dollar value of the referrals we received was very conservative – it certainly didn’t set the world on fire. But it was good consistent referral business and certainly helped to grow the practice and its presence in the local area.

    The advantage I see in BNI is that if the group is good, then generally it does follow the disciplines that its founder, Ivan Meisner, established. However sometimes you do feel like you’re in a meeting where some American empowerment guru has been trapped in an Aussies body and is sprouting americanisms.

    #1024272
    BB
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    Almost two years ago I was given several recommendations that I should join my nearest chapter of BNI. The glowing testimonials made it seem like a number one priority for the growth of my business.

    But, alas – I live in Albury and the nearest BNI chapter is at Wagga Wagga, a drive of one and a half hours each way. Not too good for attending breakfast meetings.

    However, there was a contact number for a couple who were keen to get a chapter started in the Albury / Wodonga region. I duly called them and eventually after the third attempt, was able to speak to somebody.

    The whole thing sounded fabulous, and just what was needed in this area. I was keen to get the ball rolling, and was told that as soon as they sent me all the details, I could start signing people as ‘potential members’.

    Whilst waiting for the ‘information’ I began to get names for the ‘required 20’ who were interested. We were all set to go!

    But the promised info never arrived and my attempts to track it down were met with unanswered calls and emails. Eventually after 12 months, I got a response – they’d been busy and had forgotten. (“Silly me” the lady tittered over the phone)

    Of course, the originally-interested people were no longer interested and even though the promised info did turn up a couple of months after my contact – it was too late. The names on the list could no longer find a reason to be interested. (and I can’t say that I blame them)

    I tried to contact a ‘head honcho’ of the organisation to get some help, but am still waiting a reply. That was 10 months ago.

    If BNI is truly as good as I’ve been led to believe, then this region would have benefitted from having a chapter here. Sadly – we were never given a proper chance to find out.

    B.B.

    #1024273
    Trish FCA
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    BB, post: 35686 wrote:
    Almost two years ago I was given several recommendations that I should join my nearest chapter of BNI. The glowing testimonials made it seem like a number one priority for the growth of my business.

    But, alas – I live in Albury and the nearest BNI chapter is at Wagga Wagga, a drive of one and a half hours each way. Not too good for attending breakfast meetings.

    However, there was a contact number for a couple who were keen to get a chapter started in the Albury / Wodonga region. I duly called them and eventually after the third attempt, was able to speak to somebody.

    The whole thing sounded fabulous, and just what was needed in this area. I was keen to get the ball rolling, and was told that as soon as they sent me all the details, I could start signing people as ‘potential members’.

    Whilst waiting for the ‘information’ I began to get names for the ‘required 20’ who were interested. We were all set to go!

    But the promised info never arrived and my attempts to track it down were met with unanswered calls and emails. Eventually after 12 months, I got a response – they’d been busy and had forgotten. (“Silly me” the lady tittered over the phone)

    Of course, the originally-interested people were no longer interested and even though the promised info did turn up a couple of months after my contact – it was too late. The names on the list could no longer find a reason to be interested. (and I can’t say that I blame them)

    I tried to contact a ‘head honcho’ of the organisation to get some help, but am still waiting a reply. That was 10 months ago.

    If BNI is truly as good as I’ve been led to believe, then this region would have benefitted from having a chapter here. Sadly – we were never given a proper chance to find out.

    B.B.

    I’ve had exactly the same thing happy to me, BB. I’ve have been to a few BNI breakfasts as a guest. Being a bookkeeper it is one of the first places to be filled in a chapter and not one single chapter in Melbourne had an opening, let alone one close to me.

    I contacted BNI both personally and through the chapter I had attended with a view to starting my own chapter in the north of Melbourne (no chapters exist there). After many emails and calls I was told that there were no directors in my area (gee, really??) and they didn’t think it was feasible!!

    You would think an entire region of Melbourne would be prime for chapter building but I guess it was too much effort. Established chapters are great, but getting one going with BNI is not their strongest suit.

    Very disappointing!!!

    #1024274
    Alan Maddick
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    I am a member of BNI (for 3 months) and enjoying my time there, It has already paid for itself from a pure $ perspective but my feeling is that real face to face networking is being replaced quite quickly by online networking and social media.

    I guess it depends on the pace of your business and pace of new clients your business plan calls for, we get many times the enquiries through Linked in, FB, blogs and media/PR than we do through direct face to face networking, for me networking is much more about meeting people, learning and generally interacting with other business owners. (i am new to FS but i think it will also be a valuable networking / business tool)

    It is sad you have had such trouble forming BNI groups and sad business owners are generally so closed to openly networking, prior to joining BNI i made attempts to form some sort of networking group myself of local businesses (my client database is several hundred small businesses) with no sucsess at all and yet my clients will sit there and say they desperately need new clients and referals!

    #1024275
    Alan Maddick
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    Oh and Trish the bookkeeping slot is open at our group if you feel like a drive to Hampton! (I struggle with the early morning start as it is)

    #1024276
    VanessaCaputo
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    People needed BNI – inner west Sydney

    Hi I am looking to join a chapter in the inner west Sydney. We meet at Five Dock every week. The chapter hasn’t actually started as they are just trying to get members for this chapter at this stage.

    There are plenty of fields available such as accountants, book keepers and real estate agents etc anyone really except for solicitor, residential mortgage broker, commercial mortgage broker, IT and potentially Fitness and web builder as they have already been taken.

    Let me know if there is any interest.

    regards,

    #1024277
    Bub
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    Be careful about BNI. While it does try to set up a referral base, I feel it’s main aim is to get members to keep encouraging everyone they know to come to meetings as guests in the hope they will sign up (about $1000 a year + $20 each week for breakfast). A money making business with it’s members as it’s unpaid workforce, guilted into drumming up potential new financial members.

    #1024278
    DavidM
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    Bub, post: 45461 wrote:
    Be careful about BNI. While it does try to set up a referral base, I feel it’s main aim is to get members to keep encouraging everyone they know to come to meetings as guests in the hope they will sign up (about $1000 a year + $20 each week for breakfast). A money making business with it’s members as it’s unpaid workforce, guilted into drumming up potential new financial members.
    My son used to call it a cult when I talked about it, and it started to feel like it. They reneged on promised it made to me and I pulled out. The managership was pretty poor and I felt guilty each week if I did not bring a victim (sorry- “guest”) with me. I ran out of people to ask.
    I started to stress the day before if I could not find anyone to come.
    Glad to be out of it.

    Although I have not been in BNI, someone close to me has and she relayed a similar story. BNI is great for some businesses that can create power-networking groups (e.g realestate agents to architect to solicitors to electrician did great referrals to one another). I’d warn against joining if you were in a business that was too removed from the other businesses (e.g a health professional, when no one else is in that industry). Doing the sums the investment in time was not worth it so she left.

    And there’s not really any visibility as to what you get for your joining fee. Sure you get some booklets – but not enough to justify upwards of $1,000 when the BNI agency itself does nothing to support the events.

    David

    #1024279
    Bub
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    So true. If you are not in what they call a “power group” – a group of related and mutual businesses, it’s pretty much a waste of time (and money).
    But what is really disturbing is the lack of truth and transperency to potential business owners that may be interested.

    #1024280
    Peter – FS Administrator
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    Hi Barb and all,

    Well as you can see, opinion is divided with regard this networking organisation!

    We have had to edit a couple of posts as the comments were a little too personal and outside our guidelines.

    There is no doubt that BNI have a strong focus on referrals and from what we have witnessed over the years each group’s success is dependent on the local members and the leader.

    We understand you are able to go along for a trial, so that could be a good way to see…and please trust your intuition!

    One thing is certain, for networking to work for you you must be clear on your own motivation and you must enjoy it!

    It’s from a few years back, but this article on business networking groups might also help :)

    Cheers,
    Peter

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