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

  • This topic is empty.
Viewing 15 posts - 16 through 30 (of 33 total)
  • Author
    Posts
  • #1024281
    Actuarial Planning
    Member
    • Total posts: 1
    Up
    0
    ::
    SmallBusinessWorks, post: 41052 wrote:
    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!

    Hi Alan,

    I am more than “new” to online networking and noticed this just now as someone also considering BNI – what can you tell us about your experience with FB/FS/Linkedin? I spent some time in regional NSW where face to face networks were a closed shop in country towns so I understand your comments there. Congratulations on the successful networking.

    #1024282
    John BWM
    Member
    • Total posts: 8
    Up
    0
    ::

    When I was first invited along to BNI, I accepted to be polite to a friend and client. 3 years on, I appreciate just what a good friend she was. I am now an advocate of structured word-of-mouth marketing, BNI is so much better than the more traditional industry networking groups I have been involved in.

    Some individuals simply don’t get it and therefore can not expect good returns. When you understand and implement the BNI system, most people find it beneficial. BNI represents the majority of my new business income, and many of my best clients started out as BNI referrals. I wounder sometimes how I would stay in business without the support of my Lane Cove (Business Express) Chapter.

    There are generally a number of local BNI chapters you can visit, at least a dozen on Sydney’s North Shore. Each has its own dynamic and personality, find one that you feel comfortable in and give it a go. If the enrolment and membership fees sound high, you have messed the point of networking for profit, it pays for itself repeatedly.

    John – Bells and Whistles Marketing Pty Ltd

    #1024283
    bigdipper
    Participant
    • Total posts: 46
    Up
    0
    ::

    I am a member of a networking group which broke away from the main organisation (not BNI).

    I’ve been a member for 10+ years and while I don’t attend myself these days I still send another staff member.

    Over these 10 years it has been worth it as one lead has led to many dollars of income.

    A few points to note are:
    – who are the group members.
    – Are the members interested in referring leads or just in bringing more members to the meetings.
    – what industry are the other members in and are those iindustries related to yours.
    – what do you want to get out of membership – more paying work, building your brand etc

    Our group now has a low 6 monthly membership fee which is donated to a local charity rather than lining hte pockets of someone!

    You can also gain other benefits from being a member of a group like this:
    – public speaking
    – creating an elevator speech (which is valuable in all sorts of situations)

    So attend a few groups and see what you think.

    #1024284
    VenusClubOz
    Member
    • Total posts: 4
    Up
    0
    ::

    Hi Barb,

    I can say whole heartly that networking groups work. I moved to New Zealand joined a womens networking group called Venus Clubs and was overwhelmed with how many referrals I received.

    I believe in it so much I’ve moved back Sydney and am launching Venus Clubs Australia in Feb 2011.

    If you interested, check out our website http://www.venusclubs.co.nz we are passionate about helping women grow their businesses through referral marketing.

    You can like us on facebook as well
    http://www.facebook.com/#!/pages/Venus-Australia/168445679839402

    If you have any questions, please email me at olivia@venusclub.co

    Hope this helps.

    Olivia
    Operations Manager
    Venus Club Australia

    #1024285
    socialbuzz
    Member
    • Total posts: 3
    Up
    0
    ::

    I have been to a few BNI’s over the years as a guest until I found a group that was right for me. It’s a good idea to go as a guest so you can get a feel for the group, it took me 3 go’s before I found a group that was really into referrals and not just turning up for a chat.

    Different industries get different results in regards to sales and often it can take 6 to 12 months to get a qualified referal as people need time to build report and trust you what you have to offer.

    In my opinion this is too long a wait only because so much money is involved; the sign up fee, then the weekly fee and if you miss more than 3 meetings they can kick you out and no, you don’t get your money back.

    I am totally into social media (hence my business http://www.socialbuzzonline.com.au) as you have 1000’s of people you can communicate with every day. This makes much more sense to me, than attending the same meeting every week with the same 30 people.

    Good luck with your decision, don’t forget to look for non BNI groups as there are many networking groups around including free ones.

    #1024286
    The Internet Bloke
    Member
    • Total posts: 131
    Up
    0
    ::

    I was invited to aq couple of BNI meetings as a guest, but just didn’t like the “Vibe”.
    Seemed like everyone was there to hustle and promote their own businesses, and that you were expected to deal with one of the members of the group if they were providing a service that you needed.

    I ended up joining Rotary, where the emphasis is more on helping people, and if a bit of business gets done between members than that’s a bonus.

    regards,
    Eric G.

    #1024287
    The Hobbit
    Participant
    • Total posts: 309
    Up
    0
    ::

    I have belonged to two different BNI groups, one was much more active than the other. I believe that if you have services or products that are in mass demand you will do reasonable well out of BNI. If your product is specialized or has a long purchase cycle you will not profit. Be aware that the fees are very high over $1000 pa.

    #1024288
    The Hobbit
    Participant
    • Total posts: 309
    Up
    0
    ::
    The Internet Bloke, post: 54414 wrote:
    I was invited to a couple of BNI meetings as a guest, but just didn’t like the “Vibe”.
    Seemed like everyone was there to hustle and promote their own businesses, and that you were expected to deal with one of the members of the group if they were providing a service that you needed.

    You are correct, there is pressure to give both referrals and business to fellow BNI members.

    #1024289
    Barb
    Member
    • Total posts: 144
    Up
    0
    ::

    Wow, there is such a divide in the comments about BNI in particular. I do highly believe in networking, but BNI just wasn’t for me. The initial cost was too much and I thought that weekly meetings were a little over the top.

    It took me a while to find a local networking group that I felt comfortable with, and have since joined the local Chamber of Commerce. I found that working for yourself can be quite lonely, and I craved that human contact (that didn’t include my children!!). Whilst our Chamber is slightly removed from my business (it’s focus is on businesses within our main street) it has allowed me to network with many different businesses and I now do the adminstration work for them.

    Thanks everyone for your comments!!

    Regards,
    Barb

    #1024290
    maxamise
    Member
    • Total posts: 1
    Up
    0
    ::
    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.

    Hi Bub,

    This is a very real misunderstanding about the structure of BNI. I’ve been involved with BNI now for 2 years, and now run a Region in Sydney.

    A key part of the structure of BNI is that the members meet each week, and part of that meeting is effectively a mini ‘Trade Show’ where the members get to meet new people with whom they can network with, in a structured environment.

    The members are encouraged to bring a visitor to their Chapter each month, so if you have a 30 member Chapter (the average in my Region) then the members get to connect with roughly 20-30 new contacts every month.
    The visitors do business, and so do the members – that’s what networking is all about, isn’t it?

    The average mature Chapter in my Region generates $30-40,000 per week in closed business; does it work? You bet it does! “Unpaid workforce” – I don’t think so! This is about members working for members benefit.

    As far as the fees are concerned, the ongoing fees are $715 per year, or less than $14 per meeting – roughly half the cost of the breakfast/venue charges which are part of the weekly event. There isn’t any other structured, successful networking event that I have ever seen that can deliver this service for that cost, and for the revenue which flows.

    Sure, there are businesspeople who do not get enough business – but there are many more who have quadrupled their businesses, have generated hundreds of thousands of $$ of annual revenue and where BNI accounts for 50 – 100% of their business revenue.

    Why does it work for some and not others? BNI has a very comprehensive structure, and it’s not all about the meeting – if you only do part of the structure, you will not be successful. My most successful members use the whole structure and are in Chapters which support the whole structure. And of course, not everyone is referable – they are soon sorted by their peers.

    You need to choose and support your referral partners carefully – that’s why we encourage prospective members to visit Chapters first. And, before you do, make sure you are referable (we have a top 10 list of things a good referral partner does to be effective).

    And, for the record, 80% of visitors to BNI Chapters do not join BNI – the primary reason for their attendance is to create a networking event each week to encourage business being transacted. If they do wish to join, they are interviewed and carefully screened for their referability (in my Region anyway) – by the members, not BNI. It’s up to the members if they want to have the person as part of their permanent referral network. Around 25% of applicants in my Region are not accepted.

    Last year, BNI generated $3 Billion in closed business globally for their members ($155 million in Australia) – there is no other word-of-mouth system that does that – I know, because I was actively looking for a structured solution when I thankfully, found BNI 2 years ago.

    #1024291
    Tristan
    Member
    • Total posts: 12
    Up
    0
    ::

    I have been a member of two groups. I was a member for about 2.5 years, and stopped for a few years and have just gotten back into it.

    I think that BNI is perfect if you are highly motivated and determined to make your business work. Meeting for breakfast every week does get tough, and it’s even more comitment than that. You need to get to know the other members in your group, so you need to allow another hour or two per week visiting another business to learn more about it, or hosting a visitor in your office and giving them a rundown on how you do business.

    So if you are doing the sums on whether you should join a BNI group, here it is:

    • $1000 (give or take including the joining fee for the first year)
    • $920 per year (assuming you pay $20 per breakfast at your venue)
    • 140 hours per year (70 hours per year actually in meetings + 70 hours per year keeping up with your external comitments – I.e. meeting other members to learn about each others businesses)

    It’s not cheap, but there is no question that it works, which is why I do it.

    As far as “Vibes” go. I have seen a few different BNI and simillar groups. The vibe comes down to the members and who is charing the meeting. Don’t let your first encounter put you off. Check out a couple of them before you decide if it’s your cup of tea.

    #1024292
    Simon Franklin
    Member
    • Total posts: 3
    Up
    0
    ::

    Hi Barb,

    Whatever you feel comfortable with will be successful. Networking should be strategic and then have a tactical plan. Whichever group you choose to join or attend, consider what type of networking is involved i.e. looking for direct referrals, collaboration, education, fun, support or maybe just friendship. Do you like walking into a room full of strangers with a glass of wine and a sausage roll and trying to start conversations with utter stranger? Personally I don’t so I don’t put myself in that situation. Or are you someone who likes building friendships through openness and common interests? I do so that’s what I look for. Depending on the answers to these questions you will get a gut feel for which one would be best for you. I enjoy Business Masterminds but that is because it ticks my “likes” the most. I also volunteer as a mentor which puts me with like-minded people. Every event I (tactical) attend and every time I “network” I have a desired outcome that moves me closer to my end game (strategic). If you want to know more about strategic networking I’d point you towards an expert by the name of Julia Palmer of the Business Networking Academy. Julia runs very good, practical, public courses in this area and they will change the way you think it should be done.

    #1024293
    Philby
    Member
    • Total posts: 10
    Up
    0
    ::

    I have been asked to join BNI on several occasions but never have. The reason is that, in my opinion (and it is just my opinion), it fosters disloyalty.

    Because I didn’t join, another local designer took the ‘Designer’ position in the local group. Other group members included some of my long-term customers – people I had served for several years. These ones stuck with me because I looked after them over this time.

    However, one rule in BNI is that you should use the services of fellow members. Suddenly, the years-long loyalty was, in some cases, broken because these customers of mine felt pressured to use the designer who had joined BNI – even though this particular designer was more expensive, didn’t produce quality work, and was hard to work with personality-wise. One person who faced this was a customer and personal friend who explained the pressure he was under to drop me and use someone else.

    Good networking should be based upon the principle of providing good service and having loyal customers as a result. BNI doesn’t truly work on that principle. Again, this is just my opinion and personal experience.

    Mark.

    #1024294
    PerfectNotes-Kathy
    Member
    • Total posts: 500
    Up
    0
    ::

    Hi Mark,

    This would also depend on the individual BNI group.

    I have joined a newly formed group, where there have been a number of discussions on this topic and the result is that we agree that existing relationships with suppliers are allowed to remain. It is only where you do not have an existing relationship (obviously, that you value and want to continue) that you are expected to use the group member in that category.

    Unfortunately, it also sounds as if the group should not have accepted the application from the designer in question, if the work was not up to standard. Remember, the whole point of joining a group like BNI is to get and make referrals – if the work is not of an acceptable standard in some way, HOW can you be expected to make a referral?? It would totally destroy YOUR business relationship with your customer – that you are referring to this group member – when the work is not done as expected!

    Anyway, hopefully your business is growing without this input – best of luck.

    Kathy

    #1024295
    PH450exc
    Member
    • Total posts: 4
    Up
    0
    ::
    Barb, post: 28688 wrote:
    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,

    I joined BNI but after about 10 months I stopped going. Whilst the group was a good bunch I found that it only suited certain business types.

    What I noticed was the individuals that continually got leads were those that came up in everyday conversation. E.g. car broker when you sell your car, real estate agent for those selling their house, the accountant, financial advisor.

    All those conversations you have around the dinner table with friends and family

    I am in the AV industry and I noticed others in specific industries never got any leads.

    I also felt it was very expensive for what you got out of it.

    If you are getting referrals already from friends and family then it may well be for you.

    Good Luck

Viewing 15 posts - 16 through 30 (of 33 total)
  • You must be logged in to reply to this topic.