Tired of Networking with No results? 

If you haven’t heard of BNI, here is an article well worth reading about the world’s most successful Networking Organization.

Because, if you are ever invited to attend a BNI meeting there are specific but hidden reasons why you’ve been invited and you need to know what they are.

Even if you only attend once to meet the individuals in the group and to let them know you exist.  Let me explain the other reasons. 

A BNI meeting is different from an ordinary networking meeting, very different. On the surface, they may look the same because so many networking groups have copied and adopt the basic meeting format. Everyone speaking in turn, giving a one or two-minute presentation and then perhaps a guest speaker.

However, BNI is far more strategic than that. For a start, they are a referral based group bringing people together in a non-competitive environment.

It is this non-competitive environment that makes the difference.

BNI strategy focuses on working together with closely related business categories who share the same target market but who don’t directly compete.

If you have been to a BNI meeting before. Each group has the same focus but they are all made up of different individuals with different personalities and connections.  If you don’t know what doors the new group can open you can’t know if the group is able to play a useful role in your referral marketing strategy.

The invite is never an invite to join. It is simply to meet with you and the group to see if there is potential to work together. In many cases, there isn’t a ‘good fit’ on either side and that’s OK. Until you meet, you will never know.

The opportunity cost has enormous implications. It’s not just the cost of the breakfast or the lunch. It’s not even the cost of exclusive membership to the group if someone wants to take their involvement further.

The opportunity cost is the future business that is handed to a competitor who takes the time to meet the group and starts working on a business referral strategy with the rest of the group. Seven people working closely together in a referral partnership team can see more business opportunities than one person working on their own.

Some people know the cost of everything but the value of nothing.

An invite from a BNI group means that a group of people has identified they have the potential to refer qualified introductions to someone with your skills and services.  They are looking to work with someone they can trust. Before you decide you are too busy or it’s not right for you, check it out.

The invite may not be extended next week. You may not get the opportunity again and are unlikely to know how much business you’ve just handed to your competitor.

(Original article by Paul Cleff of Social Marketing for Entrepreneurs, April 2016)