Five years ago my boss at the time told me I must join a networking group.
At which point I probably rolled my eyes because most networking events I’ve attended were nothing more than unproductive meat markets in disguise.
But I had no choice so I had to pick one.
I called my friend who boasted about a group she belonged for many years called BNI. I had never heard of this organization before but I figured I would give it a try and met her at her meeting the following week for lunch. I was pleasantly surprised being greeted by friendly, like minded professionals so I joined. In the beginning I don’t think I brought much to the table because it was a little intimidating having to speak in front of a room full of strangers. So I sat, listened, and learned.
I was required by BNI to take a class called MSP (Member Success Program). The class was done in the evening and three hours long. It teaches about BNI’s philosophy of Giver’s Gain, how to give and receive quality referrals, and discusses BNI’s purpose and overview:
“BNI is a business and professional networking organization that allows one representative from each profession to join. The sole purpose of the group is to give its members more business. ... BNI provides a structured environment for the development and exchange of quality business referrals for both men and women.”
Well let me tell you, at the end of the class a lightbulb had went off in my head realizing that this was not a regular networking group that I had joined, it was a new way of thinking and changing your outlook on business and life growth. They were here to teach, and I was ready to learn.
Fast forward: I took all of my tools to my meetings because they weren’t there to wasn’t my time and I wasn’t there to waste theirs either. Two years ago I became Vice President of our group. Imagine that... going from begrudgingly joining the group to Vice President and now having brought hundreds of thousands of dollars in revenue to my business thanks to BNI and the wonderful group of colleagues that I now call friends.
BNI is a worldwide organization that was founded by Dr. Ivan Misner in 1985. I have yet to meet him but look forward to that day. I have however had the privilege of meeting the Executive Director, Sandy Donovan and our Regional Director, Hallie Agostinelli, both wonderful, dedicated, and very smart woman.
I am so thankful to all of those who helped me thrive in this organization and I highly recommend it to anyone who wants their business to grow.