My BNI Experience
One of the best business decisions I’ve made this year is joining a BNI. BNI stands for business networking international and there are thousands of groups that meet each week across the world with a strong intention of helping one another grow their businesses. I was nervous about joining, but it’s been an incredible experience that has been financially and emotionally worth every moment.
I was invited to a meeting many years ago by my friend, Monica. She posted something on Facebook about their networking group looking for a new members, and I was intrigued. After getting the details and doing some research, I turned her down because of the level of commitment.
Every BNI group (or chapter) requires their members to show up weekly. The attendance policy states that one can only miss three times every six months, or find a substitute in their place. It also costs around $500 to be a member for a full year, then there are about $50 in fees every quarter that go towards renting the meeting space. She told me the first two meetings at any chapter are free, but I chickened out, and put it on the back burner.
This past year, I started offering a new type of photography with my business, personal brand photography. I went to networking events, connected with local entrepreneurs online, and started bundling my services with others to spread the world about growing a personal brand and the benefits of brand photography.
I met a ton of amazing people, but wanted something more consistent when it came to networking. I tried joining a few masterminds, but they didn’t work with my schedule. I tried starting my own meet ups, but attendance was not consistent. I was feeling frustrated, and hired an amazing business coach (Rise with Rebecca) who encouraged me to check out a BNI. So I reached back out to Monica, visited her chapter twice, then joined.
I’ve been in my BNI chapter for four months, and love it! Each week, I get to pitch a potential person I would love to connect with, and if the chapter knows that type of person, they will connect me. So far, I’ve met other referral partners, but also have connected with new clients.
In four months, I have made back the money I invested plus a lot more, and feel like the ball is now rolling with brand photography in my business.
My BNI experience has been amazing, but each chapter is very different. I recommend to anyone thinking about joining one, to visit a few chapters to see if you would be a good fit. They only allow one of each type of business owner in their group, so you can search on their website to see what types of business owners are already there.
I love my chapter, there are 13 of us, and everyone is lovely to talk to. If you want to check out one of our meetings, please reach out to me! I would love to introduce you to some amazing people over coffee and breakfast.
Here’s the link to register for one of our chapter’s meetings at 7am Wednesdays in St. Louis Park.
Want to read more of my experience in networking? Check out this blog on how I started my networking journey.