Monday, March 9, 2009

Maximising your Networking Investment

I went to BNI leadership training today. I'm doing an extended term as Chapter Director. I don't mind, I really like the job.

The thoughts of a 7:30am start and 5 hours of training doesn't always seem like a good idea as the alarm goes off when it's still dark and evil thoughts of pulling a 'sicky' go through your half-awake brain.

But the end result was worth it.

Looking beyond the practical stuff of how to run effective networking meetings and chapter growth, what really comes shining through is the real purpose, and benefit, of putting aside a couple of hours every week to attend.

Making the financial commitment to be a BNI member for a year is not insignificant and shouldn't be taken lightly. Every member needs to maximise the potential they have of generating new business and profits to ensure a good return on their investment.

Every moment you are in a BNI meeting should be focused on that one goal. But managed incorrectly, it can turn sour and unprofitable very quickly.

Being a 'Hunter' and simply looking for every opportunity to capture business from other members and their contacts is unlikely to go down well and you could face the prospect of less business rather than more as members lose confidence.

BNI, and any networking for that matter, needs to be looked at as a medium to long term investment.

I would be reluctant to hand over an introduction to my best, most lucrative and sensitive customer until I am completely satisfied that you will do a fantastic job that will give me credibility for introducing you! So you need to prove to me that you are great at your job, you are committed to staying with the group (I don't want to be having to 'recommend' your replacement to my clients in 2 or 3 months) and that you are doing what ever you can to help the other members.

Offering to take on a role in the running of the Chapter is not only a great way to show your commitment, but also increases your own visibility within the group. If you do the role well you gain credibility as well as getting visibility.

BNI is not the only form of networking and the structure approach is not for everyone, our own Antidote Network for example provides a great alternative business forum. But I really do think that BNI is a great form of generating business and my profits would suffer without it.

If you're in BNI, or thinking of joining, make sure you maximise it's potential - hold up your hand and offer to help. You'll probably benefit more than you think.

Information about my BNI Chapter, Innovation.

Information about the Antidiote Network

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