If you follow me on Facebook or Twitter, know me in real life, or catch my Foursquare updates, you’ll realize that every Wednesday morning I’m at a golf course for something other than golf (a game I know nothing of but admire the courses and club houses very much).
So what exactly am I doing at 7am at a golf course? It’s called BNI (Business Network International). It was started by Ivan Misner in 1985 and is the largest business networking organization with 5,600 chapters worldwide in 42 countries. Each chapter contains a member from different business categories and no category can be represented twice hence resulting in referrals exclusively tailored to you with no competition. Last year alone, BNI referrals resulted in $2.6 billion so why wouldn’t I want to be part of this networking group?
I found BNI by accident. I wasn’t looking for anything like this and I had a steady job at a bank as their offshoring consultant/manager building data and software teams. One the side, I had started a Mary Kay business thinking it would be fun to make some extra cash and play with makeup. Also during this time, I had just moved to Orange County and was looking for a tax accountant. My director with Mary Kay referred me to Mike DuBrock who I learned was a BNI member and before I knew it everything led back to BNI somehow and I just had to check it out for myself.
For a year, I used BNI and social media to grow my business. It worked out well for me however I had no interest in makeup or the company in general; I just wanted to make some money and have my own business doing something. I didn’t know quite what I wanted though. During a 1-2-1 meeting, I sat down with another member in our group, Steve Smith, who helped solved this mystery for me. We had a discussion that resulted in me opening my own social media business with his help and today I wouldn’t be where I was if it hadn’t been for that one decision to join BNI. I am truly amazed by that and how a single action can affect your whole life. I absolutely love what I do and owe it all to BNI and Steve Smith.
I believe BNI has something in store for everyone – a way to make more contacts, secure a team of solid professionals that work on your behalf to bring you business, or a new opportunity that could be a game changer for you like it was for me. If you’re looking to ramp up your business, it wouldn’t hurt to check out BNI. This organization has become more than just business networking for me; it’s an extension of my family.
Check out this video of our chapter and what our members have to say about our group: