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.