Why is BNI so Structured?

Many people have heard of BNI, the worldwide group of business people who pass referrals to each other. I’ve been a member of a local BNI chapter for a few years and have found much success marketing my business this way.

BNI is an interesting organization; with well over 200,000 members globally, it is fairly well-known in business circles. Yet I find many people have never heard of it. I think that’s primarily because BNI doesn’t have huge advertising campaigns, instead relying on members themselves to introduce it to only those they know and trust.

With an organization that size, you know there will be lots of people online sharing their take on it. Of course BNI isn’t for everyone, and it has its detractors. One of the most common reasons I hear that keeps people from joining is that “…it’s too structured!”

A recent survey of business owners revealed that 97% of businesses rely on word-of-mouth advertising, but only 3% have a formal plan to create that word-of-mouth traffic. This is where BNI helps; by putting the tools BNI teaches into practice, one can develop a steady source of high quality qualified referrals. Who wouldn’t want that?

Yes, it takes structure to be successful in anything we do. I’ve always wondered how someone who isn’t willing to commit to structure in their business can expect repeatable success. For me, BNI is a marketing function, and like other parts of my business, I expect predictable results.

The reason for the structure in BNI is because it makes members more money and allows them to grow their businesses more effectively.

As a photographer, I need structure in my business to keep it successful. For example, I follow a structured system during my headshot sessions – why? Do I light haphazardly? No. Do I pose and direct the client without purpose? No. Do I edit the files randomly or do I use a structured system? I accomplish each of these tasks with structure because it produces the repeatable results my clients expect and pay me for. If I didn’t follow a system that maximizes my client’s value and my profitability, I wouldn’t attain those goals.

The same is true with my marketing. I’ve learned the marketing functions they train in BNI, put them in practice, and my business has thrived as a result. My BNI referrals account for a large portion of my overall sales. I know of no other single marketing activity that produces the kind of results I get by following BNI’s proven, structured way to generate referrals.

Am I going to be at a 7 am meeting once a week for that? It’s a no-brainer. Wash, rinse, repeat. Money in the bank.

 

Websites for Photographers

When I’m teaching photography, either on an individual or group basis, I am often asked not only about gear but also the business side of photography. I share my experiences with client proofing software, bookkeeping, client scheduling, etc.

One of the first things every photographer has to decide on is how to promote and share their work online. There are a huge number of choices, including 500px, flicker, Squarespace, and wordpress with custom photography themes such as Photocrati.

This website is currently running the Photocrati theme with WordPress as the back end. While I am very happy with it, I use a different program for online galleries and proofing. I’ve been using Sytist (and its previous sibling, PhotoCart). You can see my Sytist installation here: Whitesell Photography Galleries

I recommend either of these; both are designed to be installed in your own web hosting account which means you have the ability to move to a new hot if you aren’t pleased with your current host. This is an advantage over hosted platforms which would require to to abandon everything and start over from scratch if you decide to move your website.

I like Photocrati’s WordPress engine which allows for much customization, and Sytist has come a very long way and now includes such advanced features as invoicing, a booking calendar, wall designer, eGift cards, project proofing, and much more. Both companies offer great support and have been very helpful whenever I have a design question.

If you’d like to check out either of these programs, you can find them here:

Sytist
Photocrati

Vision For Life clinics added to Google Street View

We recently photographed the three Optometry clinics that are part of Vision for Life and added them via Street View to Google maps:

 

 

NAIT Women’s Hockey 2015

We shot the Nait OOKS women’s hockey team yeasterday and got a bunch of great memories of the athletes.

Ladies, we’ll have everything for you to to see soon – but until then, here is a great shot of the team:

NAIT womens hockey team 2015Click picture to see larger version

Here’s the same image as a 360 degree panorama

Drag your mouse in the picture to turn it:

Edmonton Winter Portraits


Love the winter? We’re totally up for winter portrait sessions!!

Edmonton photographersWhile most families and couples want to get their portraits during the summer months, There are still a few brave souls who embrace our winters. Shooting a winter portrait in Edmonton can be challenging. Here are some of the things we want on the day we shoot the session:

  • Warm (relatively) weather. Even minus 10 can be challenging for everyone. Red noses and cheeks aren’t the most attractive (unless that’s the look you’re going for!). Batteries in the equipment don’t last as long. It can just get uncomfortable if it’s too cold!
  • Clear, sunny skies. We want one of those gorgeous clear sky winter days for your session. If it grey and gloomy, or even foggy, we’ll probably want to reschedule for a nicer day.
  • Fresh snow. We love to shoot right after a snowfall, when everything is white. It isn’t very pretty if the snow is two weeks old, dirty and half ice. We want beautiful snow!

edmonton-winter-portraits-2We also bring out lighting in the winter, just like we do in the summer. Controlling the light is critical for the bright, well balanced portraits we’re known for. As we’ve always said, “It’s all about the light!”


Sometimes we end up rescheduling a time or two waiting for all the conditions to come together for the best portraits possible. But believe me, the results are worth it!!

winter engagement pictures

edmonton-winter-portraits-4

 

2014 St. Albert Farmers Market Opening

Check out this 360-degree panorama we made of the opening ceremonies of the 2014 St. Albert Farmers’ Market.

Click the picture to go to the panorama…

St Albert Farmer's Market - opening ceremonies

World’s longest softball game

There is a group of 39 hard core softball players currently playing what they hope will be recognized as the world’s longest slo pitch game. They’ve been playing since last weekend at a park in Leduc, just south of Edmonton – through rain, thunderstorms, hail, darkness and cold.

They have less than 24 hours left to break the current record. That will occur about 8 a.m. Saturday – and the teams plan to continue playing until Sunday morning.

We’ll be there Saturday morning to photograph the moment when the record is broken – and we’ll be posting pictures of the historic event!

Come join us at Wm. F. Lede park in Leduc (map – http://goo.gl/maps/9nljt) early Saturday morning for a bit of sports photography and to cheer on the players! We’ll probably show up about 7:30, hope to see you there!

UPDATE:
The record was unofficially broken Saturday morning at 7:04 pending verification from Guinness officials! The two teams playing at the time took a very short time out to share a toast and celebrate.

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The teams will continue to play until noon tomorrow to cement their place in history.

20130713-085847.jpg

Park Veterinary Centre Staff Group Photo

We recently did a Google virtual tour for Park Veterinary Centre in Sherwood Park, and also produced staff portraits for their website.

Here is a group shot of most of the staff – unfortunately a few were not able to be there the day we shot, but this gives you an idea of the staff commitment this great vet office provides to their clients.

NAIT Women’s Hockey Video

Decided to have some fun with the pictures of these amazing athletes!

 

NAIT Women’s Hockey Team 2012-13

Here is our team photo of the NAIT Women’s Hockey Team:

NAIT women's hock team photo by Jim Whitesell

NAIT Women’s Hockey Team 2012-2013

Some interesting facts:

  • Created from eight images
  • Approximately 100 megapixels
  • Full size image is over four feet long
  • The women were positioned in a semi-circle, yet appear to be in a straight line in the final photo

Would you like to see the full size photograph? Post a comment below so we can gauge interest.