Recently, I finally took the decision to join the BNI Business Network. If you’re not familiar with it: BNI is the world’s largest business networking organization. For several years, we have seen the benefits of BNI in the countries where we started up our business. Different colleagues and partners joined the network long before me, so -very unlike me- I wasn’t the first one in our team to get it started…
The philosophy of the BNI organization is built upon the idea of “Givers Gain®“: By giving business to others, you will get business in return. This is predicated on the age-old idea of “What goes around, comes around“. The mission of BNI is to help members increase their business through a structured word-of-mouth program that enables them to develop long-term relationships. If this sounds too good to be true, just have a look at the numbers: Last year alone, members of BNI passed 6.6 million referrals, which generated over $8.6 billion dollars worth of business.
There were several reasons why it took me so long to take the step:
The nearest BNI Chapter -that’s the local unit in BNI language- was too far away from my house, taking into account that meetings start at 6.30 am! I also thought it was too local for my business and of course, I didn’t have enough time as a female entrepreneur. The weekly rhythm seemed too intense and I was afraid that I wouldn’t be able to commit myself to it.
Well, it turned out that none of these reasons are valid any more:
- Since 6 months already, we have a local Chapter at 1 km from my doorstep (BNI Keerbergen & Meer, with a beautiful view on the lake).
- Secondly: BNI’s tagline is “Local Business, Global Network”. The international reach of the network is amazing. This means that, if I’m in Dubai -which happens quite often- I can just pop in at the nearest Chapter to my hotel and use the local network for all of my questions. Even if, at first, a person doesn’t seem interesting for you, that person’s network might be surprisingly interesting for your business.
- And then, last but not least, the eternal dilemma of “time”. Time is my most precious asset and I hate to waste it. Now, it turns out that my time at the BNI meetings and during the 1-on-1 meetings has been very well invested already. It is true what they say: you meet amazing, new people and you have the opportunity to build a relationship with them. The Givers Gain principle is right up my lane, as I strongly believe that you need to give before you can receive.
I have to thank Pierre Schmitt, who contacted us several years ago and patiently waited for me to see the light. I would also like to thank directors Patrick, Catherine and Isabel and the other members from my Chapter for welcoming me so warmly -and especially my friend Sara who took away my last doubts. This is one of the best business decisions I made this year and I would recommend any business owner to do the same.