Not All Networking Groups Are Created Equal -Network With The Best: BNI Australia


Just as every city has innumerable shops and cafés, it also has many different business networking groups.  Not every shop offers a good range, not every café makes a great coffee.  The same is true of business networking groups.  They are not created equal.  And there is a lot at stake when choosing which business networking groups to join.

This month Melanie Miller from BNI Infinity and Small Fish Business Coaching poses the question for our Question Corner.  She asks, “What makes BNI different from other networking groups?”

Good question!  So, what does make BNI stand out, and why should you join?

Networking Groups Are Essential To Our Businesses

Networking is key to the success of all of our businesses.  Why spend a fortune on advertising, or hours making cold calls, when we know word-of-mouth marketing to be most effective.

So should we join networking groups?  Yes, definitely!  In fact Dr Ivan Misner, the BNI Founder and Chairman, suggests we all join two or three, so we meet a broad range of people.

But how do we choose those two or three?

So Many Networking Groups: Which Ones Are Right?

Having worked in the field of referral marketing for several decades, BNI’s Ivan Misner is an expert.  He has identified six types of networking groups.  By looking at these six types more closely, we can decide on the best ones for our businesses.

1. Casual Contact Networks

The first type of networking group, the casual contact network, is a business group that allows many people from various overlapping professions.  As there are no restrictions on the number of people from each profession, competition within each category is often high.

The best examples of casual contact groups are Chambers of Commerce, which provide business owners with the opportunity to meet hundreds of other business people.

2. Strong Contact Networks

Strong contact networks are groups that meet weekly for the primary purpose of exchanging referrals.

They often restrict membership to only one person per profession or specialty.

Strong contact networks tend to be more structured in their meeting format than casual contact networks.  They often include sections for open networking, short presentations by everyone, longer and more detailed presentations by one or two members, and time devoted solely to passing business referrals.

BNI is a good example of a strong contact network.

3. Community Service Clubs

Community service clubs give you an opportunity to put something back into the community where you do business – while allowing you to make valuable contacts and receive good PR.

Two good examples of community service clubs are the Rotary and Lions Clubs.

4. Professional Associations

Professional associations focus on one specific industry, such as banking, architecture, accounting, or health.  The primary purpose of a professional association is for members to exchange information and ideas within their specific industry.

If you’re interested in joining a professional association you should join a group that your potential clients or target market belong to.  Ask your best clients which professional associations they belong to and join those.  The idea is that your potential customers will most likely have the same needs as your existing, best customers.  Joining the professional associations your best customers belong to will give you the opportunity to mix with similar people.

5. Social/Business Organisations

Social/business organisations are groups that (as the name suggests!) combine business and social activities.  The idea here is that you can have a little fun while you work (or do a little work while you have fun!).

6. Women’s Business Organisations

Women’s business organisations take all forms, from casual contact groups to associations and more structured strong contact networks.  While the structure and specific benefits of each group may be different, the goal is the same: To support the participation and effectiveness of women in business.

What Is BNI – And How Does It Compare?

BNI is a strong contact group.

And the biggest business referral networking group of its kind in the world:

  • BNI members meet weekly for the primary purpose of exchanging referrals.
  • Membership is restricted to one person per professional category in each chapter so there is no competition within categories.
  • BNI chapter meetings are formal and structured.
  • Everyone has the chance to promote their business and learn about other members’ businesses.
  • And, importantly, the meetings are fun!
  • The members of your BNI chapter become more than your business associates and marketing team.  They become your friends, and we all know how easy it is to do business with friends.

Visit Your Local Chapter 

So, as you plan your marketing activities for the year ahead, think carefully about where you will invest your networking time and money in 2012.

Visit your local BNI chapter to find out whether BNI is right for you and your business.

Categories : BNI Benefits

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