When I was first introduced to Business Networking International (BNI), I was not at all sold. I didn’t want to be a sucker, pay the big bucks, and drink the cool-aid like everyone else only to discover that the referral-based networking group had nothing to offer me or my business. The rules and the attendance policy sounded daunting and triggered my inner rebel, but because I was new to entrepreneurship and needed to start generating more leads, I hushed my fears and signed on the dotted line.
Unfortunately, for my first 6 months to 1 year, BNI was what I had feared. A disappointment. I did not receive many referrals in the first year and even when I did receive them they often did not turn into clients. I was told by multiple members at the time to lower my prices, offer deep discounts and even received negative comments about my logo, the name of my brand and so on. I was constantly referred out for gigs that did not match my ideal client and the people I was asking for in my 45-seconds spiel each Wednesday. I felt like I had been duped.
It wasn’t until I attended BNI’s Membership Success Program and met my Golden Goose that everything began to change. A Golden Goose in BNI is a business owner, ideally another member in your chapter, who can refer you loads of leads. And that day I met mine. The wonderful and wise Lindsay Mitchell of Vital-Side.
Lindsay and I began work together and she became one of the highest paying clients in my entire business at the time, and she continued to revisit me for repeat business. As our work relationship grew our friendship did as well, and I mentioned just how disappointed I was in my current BNI chapter and that I was thinking about leaving BNI altogether. It was at that moment that she invited me to visit her chapter, Profit Powerhouse to potentially source some new leads.
Walking into Profit Powerhouse that day changed everything. I fell in love with that chapter. The culture, the vibe, and the energy seemed to match what I was looking for. I noticed a few key differences in the demographic as well, the median age was lower and there was more women-owned business in the chapter. They seemed to understand what I offered much better, and the chapter was smaller, about 15 members at the time. The intimacy made me feel heard and seen during my 45-second spiel.
I applied to change chapters and after a series of hoops I jumped through - I drank the cool-aid a second time and I couldn’t be happier. As I close in on my 1-year mark in this chapter — 32% of my leads are generated through BNI. And this has happened despite my dreadful attendance this last quarter and I still haven’t completed all my 121s! If I can commit to a 121 a week or at least 2 a month and score perfect attendance I believe I can have this % up to 50% in 6 months. That’s my goal.
Aside from the amazing referrals and business that BNI has brought me, most importantly it’s brought me an incredible community of like-minded entrepreneurs that I ENJOY spending time with every Friday morning. It’s a BLAST. It’s hope-giving and life-affirming when things get hard. It’s inspiring when I need motivation and it’s the fire under my ass when I’m not performing as well as I could be.
Currently, I have quarterly Brand Photoshoots for my social media with a photographer I met through BNI - Amy Weiss she’s the wife of my CPA Luke Weissgarber who I met in BNI. For those photoshoots I always get with my personal stylist Miramar Dichoso beforehand - who I met in BNI - and we shop together and curate outfits. When I have Copy that needs to be written for a client’s video I can turn to my content writer April Smith at EContent Success and I know she’ll put something together that generates sales and clarity. Lindsay continues to constantly send me more leads which I am eternally grateful for. There’s a fabulous bookkeeper in our chapter who I plan to start working with. Our Vegan food delivery service Prep To Your Door CEO Heather always inspires me to be more eco-friendly and eat healthier. Our psychologist Pam Monday has seen my boyfriend and me for a couple’s session and mapped out our family tree which helped us better understand where our behaviors stem from. I’ve found a skincare specialist, chiropractor, functional medicine doctor, massage therapist and many many more qualified professionals by way of BNI. These wonderful, considerate people have helped me thrive not just in business, but more importantly in my personal life. My BNI chapter is truly a family.
Interested in visiting my chapter? Register here as a guest!