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To BNI or Not To BNI

That Is the Networking Question


Before you read the article, we invite you to join us for breakfast.

We meet each Thursday morning at 6:30 am at the Willow Park Golf & Country Club.
If you’re interested, please register by the end of the day on Tuesday.
Here is the Link to Register.
Please call John Watson at 403.818.8151 with questions and to inform us you are coming.

To BNI or Not To BNI 

You might be wondering, what the heck is BNI? BNI stands for Business Networking International. It is the world’s leading business referral organization with over 249,000 members in 8,863 chapters worldwide. In Calgary, there are 12 chapters, meeting around the city with hundreds of local members.

BNI is the brainchild of Dr. Ivan Misner, who started the organization over 30 years ago. The idea is simple enough; you meet each week with your chapter members, and any interested visitors, to learn about each other and your respective businesses. The premise is, once you get to know, like and trust the other business owners, the more likely you will be to refer business to each other.

I’ve known about BNI for years, but only joined 18 months ago after repeated recommendations from a friend. Now I meet 45-50 business owners for breakfast every Thursday morning. I get to know the people better between meetings and, when available, attend periodic social and educational functions with them as well. I don’t think I have ever networked so much in my life, and I know there is more available if I choose.

As a full-scale introvert, I’ve always avoided regular networking; preferring internet marketing for sales lead generation. Internet marketing is so time and cost-efficient, I could never get my head around committing to regular in-person networking meetings. Plus, it was a great excuse to reinforce my introverted tendencies.

Now that I’me into my second year with BNI, I’m getting clear what I like and dislike about it. I’m making it work from a business perspective, and I’m enjoying meeting people I would have never met through online marketing. I’ve met many excellent service providers in diverse industries, who I’ve been able to use and refer to friends, family and colleagues.

Is it worth it? Like anything, you get out of it what you put into it, and some businesses are better suited for BNI than others. The more accessible and simple your business is, the more likely you are to do well with BNI. Speciality companies may need to work harder to connect to niche networks through BNI, but it is possible to make it work.

Would I recommend checking out BNI and attending a meeting? Yes. The food is great and there is no pressure to join.

The business owners in the room are high-quality, high-integrity people worth knowing and adding to your list of suppliers. You might make a valuable connection in the process and, if you are like me, it’ll get you out of your comfort zone on a weekly basis. You’ll introduce yourself and your business to 45-50 people each week, which is great practice in-any-case.

If you’re interested and want to learn more about BNI or you would like to attend a breakfast meeting, let me know, and I’ll introduce you around. My Chapter is BNI – Elite, we meet at Willow Park Golf & Country Club each Thursday morning at 6:30 am.

If you live outside of Calgary, there are local chapters in most cities and towns worldwide. Visit the Canadian site or the global website for chapter locations and meeting times in your area.

About the Author

John Watson is the president of Accrue Performance Marketing. John is a sales and marketing coach and consultant who lives in Calgary, Alberta, Canada. He's consulted to start-ups, business owners and corporate executives since 1993. John's an active content creator with a passion for writing, photography, digital marketing and data.

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