Bringing in a constant flow of new business is one of the hardest parts of taking your solopreneur business and growing it into a company. To do so, you need to constantly be out and networking to expand your professional network. One great way to generate more business for your company is by joining a recurring networking meeting, which is why I joined BNI.
What is BNI?
BNI is an international referral organization, meaning it is a group of individuals who meet and learn about each other’s businesses so they can help them get more business by offering referrals. Currently, there are more than 240,000 in 8,500 chapters around the world. These chapters are responsible for closing $16 billion in business in the past year.
What’s the difference between leads and referrals?
Even though these two words are often used interchangeably, they actually mean very different things. A lead is an unqualified individual who could potentially become a customer but has not actually discussed their intentions on working with your business. On the other hand, a referral is someone who has heard about your business, expressed their interest, and is interested in you reaching out to provide more information. At BNI, only referrals are accepted because only referrals turn into actual revenue for your business.
What is the structure of a BNI meeting?
Once you join a chapter, you will have a meeting once a week at the same time in the same location. For example, my group meets every Tuesday at 7:30 a.m. at Redz Grill. The first half hour is open networking. That means you walk around, drink coffee, grab breakfast, and discuss business with other people in the group. Then, the meeting starts. Throughout the meeting, you will have an education presentation, give a 30-second commercial about your referral, listen to or give a 10-minute presentation on your business, and give referrals to members of your group. It is a great way to really learn about other members so you can offer them amazing referrals and they can do the same in return.
Why should I join BNI?
Aside from becoming a member of the largest referral organization in the world, BNI builds you a strong network of like-minded business professionals who care about your success as much as their own. You also get access to a library overflowing with business resources, educational videos, and trainings. It is one of the best ways to become a better business professional while also expanding your professional network.
The best part about BNI is you can try it out before you join. Go to a meeting to experience what BNI is like at your local chapter and then determine whether it’s the right fit for you. If so, apply for a position! Check out our networking resources page here.