Spruiking BNI (Which Has Nothing To Do With Small Fish)
It feels a bit strange to write a story about another business, one which has many flaws and frustrations (bureaucracy, anyone?) and to be telling you all how helpful it's been for our business.
It has, though and this despite its flaws.
BNI is a global franchise, thousands of chapters and millions of dollars of referrals passed. I sound like a brochure, already, don't I. Anyway, if you get business because people decide to trust you (who doesn't?) then networking with other businesses might be a good idea. BNI is not the only way to network by any means but it does work and it's working for Small Fish. So consider this a personal testimonial from me, for business networking generally and for BNI in particular.
I've been in the Byron Bay BNI group since it started, about 18 months ago. I've had four customers from it (I would generally work with a small number of high-value customers) and I am in discussions with another two. This is a significant contributor to my personal revenues. In our group, we have 16 business coaches and 8 BNI members, all of whom have been in their chapters for a shorter time than I. BNI has contributed more than 20% of our total customers in less than 2 years.
This makes it a significant contributor to our group revenues, too. Word of mouth, or referrals business is something you get if you do a good job - people tell their friends about you and, slowly, your business grows. BNI and being active about networking and asking for referrals accelerates the process of people getting to know you and how you operate, so they can decide whether they want to refer people to you. You meet every week with the primary purpose of doing precisely this - thinking about finding referrals for the members of your group who you've decided are good enough to work with your friends.
I don't want to sound like a salesman for BNI, because I'm not one, but I do honestly think that if you're in business and you want to grow it, joining a referrals group like BNI is worth considering.
Other, similar groups exist and some of my colleagues are as enthusiastic about theirs as I am about BNI. They include
Schmooze in Canberra, Business Chicks and Swap.
Why don't you let us know about your business group (only if you are enthusiastic about, of course)
Small Fish Business Coaching Byron Bay