Until a couple of weeks ago I didn’t know that BNI existed. “BNI is a business referral organisation whose primary purpose is to assist its members to find and exchange qualified business referrals for each other and develop word-of-mouth marketing techniques.” One of my clients, The Nature Conservation Trust, recommended that I apply to join the group so as to grow my online marketing consulting business.
Of course I wanted to grow my client base so I went along to a few meetings, at 6.30am in the centre of Sydney. Now I am not an early morning person by nature, and especially in the winter time, getting up at 5.30am in the pitch black was not enjoyable but I did find the meetings to be very interesting.
BNI follows a very strict structure, 40 second self promotion opportunities to tell your fellow members what you do, “Digital Media and Marketing Consulting”, and who would be your perfect referral – such as “Marketing Directors in the Travel or Ticketing industry or anyone looking for an internet marketing guru in Sydney”. There are then 2 x 6 minute presentations by members, followed by a mexican wave around the table to pass on referrals and give thanks for business closed or compliments for experiences had.
The All About Business AAB chapter at the Domain in Sydney is definitely a powerful and driven bunch. They only accept one expert from every industry or category, so I would have been the internet marketing or web development or SEO person in the chapter, and you are expected to make several referrals a month. The philosophy is that you give without expectation of anything in return, and you pass on quality leads that you have personally nurtured.
I think its a great concept and the evidence is in the success of the members, many of them testifying that their business and revenue has more than tripled since joining the group.
I would recommend to anyone living in Sydney, no-matter what your profession (trades, accounting, law, marketing, acupuncture), BNI seems a sure way to grow your business, IF you are ready to make the commitment.