Or to be more precise, 600,000 reasons why I start work early every Friday!
I leave the house at 5.45am which for me is early! By 6.30am I am at the Holbrook House Hotel, Wincanton preparing for the weekly meeting of the Borders Chapter of Business Network International (BNI). I am one of 24 members of the chapter covering a wide range of industries and professions.
It is a great bunch of people all with one common reason for being there. We all want to grow our businesses! Much to my dismay when I first started out I thought that I could just sit back and watch the work come to me! After all I am good at what I do! I know my business! Why would’t people flock to my door and throw work (and therefore money) in my direction? And then the penny dropped! There are plenty of people out there who also know their business equally as well as me. So I realised I needed profile…. better still I needed a sales team….
So I started looking at advertising. Not much return for quite an outlay! Place an advert in a local paper and then hope that the timing was right! What are the odds that a person needed my services would happen to be looking at that paper that week. Odds seemed very high to me.
I looked at various networking groups and organisations. There are some good ones out there which have their place but none quite seemed to fit my needs and requirements. So that’s where the BNI entered into the equation.
Whoa.. hold on… did I not say that networking does not fit my needs and here I am saying a group that has the word “Network” in it’s name is the one for me?
Well yes but…. the name does not really convey exactly what the BNI is all about! It is more a referral group that networks than an out and out networking group. For me most networking groups I have witnessed involve selling to the room. With the BNI it is the opposite! It is about gaining trust and credibility with fellow members so that they can refer me with confidence to their own circle of business and social friends and family. They can only possibly do this if they discover that they need services that I could provide. If they are happy to accept contact for me in this regard then they can refer me in. What happens next is upto me!
Before any member can be in a position to refer another member with confidence they have to get to know that member and understand what it is they do AND what it is they want by way of business referrals. That takes time and effort and that is where the regular Friday morning meetings come in to play. We meet over breakfast, have the chance to let everyone know what sort of work we are looking for, pass referrals to other members AND thank members for the business gained from previous referrals.
That brings me nicely back to my opening statement. When a member thanks another member for the business that information is recorded and for the 24 members of the Borders Chapter, since 1 April 2011 that has amounted to more than £600,000 worth of business! So the return on investment for me is most definitely worth it. And even better the meetings are done and dusted by 8.30am so they don’t interfere with the rest of my working day!
We are always looking for new members so please feel free to get in touch and if you are in the Chippenham area we are looking to launch a new group there and have a meeting on Thursday 1 March.
The BNI has become an integral part of my sales and marketing plans as it is a cost effective way of growing my business and it may well be as effective for your business. But how will you ever know unless you check it out for yourself?