Sorry, dog eat frog world! This image should generally just be used after successful football and rugby games 😉
Tuesday 26th March I attended a meeting of a new chapter of BNI. I’d been invited by Nick Boyle and I said I’ll give it a spin. Nick Forgham was our chair and he lived up to his name, trying to melt us as one in the BNI Forge!
I’ve known Gavin Bain, Executive Director for BNI UK for a number of years. Last time we met was at a funeral of his wife’s cousin and my good mate Denis Blandford… he designed the I Love Windsor logo which needs more visibility and will get it as I stroll the highways of Windsor.
I’ve never been that keen on the BNI my way or the highway approach to business networking but does it work is the real question. The global website presents them as the world’s largest business networking organisation with 145,000 members, 7.1 million leads passed and $3.3 billion… that’s 49 leads a year each with each worth $465.
Now I’m in Rotary, they have 1.2 million members and Bill Gates donated $500,000,000 last year… our motto is “Service Above Self”. Like any large organisation, there are corporate players amongst us who’s doctrine is much more along the lines of “Self Above All Else”… most of those I have met have proved genuine.
I have had a few bits of business from networking but most of my bigger deals have come from me knocking on the door directly and saying, “Hi, need any of this?” To which the answer is invariably “No thanks.” But all good salesmen know that one more NO takes you closer to a YES, so enjoy the NO 😉
Rotary meetings have a structure but they are relaxed and about getting to know people better. We then work on projects and make things happen locally & internationally, dependent on the committee preference of the member. Things get done and people feel good about helping others… and some business may happen.
The BNI meeting was 90 minutes of preaching from the pulpit about how absolutely fabulous BNI is at generating leads for it’s members, followed by a corralling of the guests to see if they would fit into an available category… the gearing is around local business but I was blackballed by an Indian web design company at the last meeting I went along to… go figure! We did get a timed 60 seconds each to say who we are before a bell went… I did mention to Nick F that I felt that a little harsh considering there were only 12 people in the room… he said he loved his own voice and I’d have to choose a category quick if I didn’t want to miss out.
Rotary is about community… BNI is about business… and perhaps there is mileage in the BNI approach in the lean times we are in but I do prefer the community approach… Come here talk to me, Fred or Bill, we all are good at widget making, work with the one you feel most affinity with, the other’s will not be offended. Or is that rather naïve in the dog eat dog world we live in… or should I say dog eat frog world?
What are your thoughts & preferences when it comes to business networking?