A very good friend called me a couple of months ago and invited me to some kind of 'business meeting' in West Palm Beach. I was way too busy to attend and told her so from the start. I'm grateful to her that she kept persisting and harassing me to go.
We drove up there together on a rainy, stormy day, entered the conference room filled with strange faces and HUGE windows overlooking the intracoastal and the ocean in the distance. As the rain pelted the windows and lightning bolts danced on the horizon, I half listened to what was going on in the room. There were more than 20 people getting up at one-minute intervals giving mini-presentations about who they are and what they do for a living. Each one ended with something like, "....a great referral for me would be your next door neighbor that needs ________." And so it went for most of the meeting. It takes more than that to hook me.
Then things started to get interesting and my ears perked up. I wasn't expecting this part because I really knew nothing about BNI before I attended this meeting. One by one, each member got up and walked to another person in the group and said, "I have one referral for Jon. I have 2 referrals for Dan. I have one thank you for Sean. Each time, they'd give this person little slips of paper, like mini postlets all filled out with information. There was a TON of business being transacted here! I thought I was being taken to some kind of new MLM and in reality, this was a great business networking meeting with seasoned veterans.
I left the meeting shaking my head and ready to commit to the new chapter forming in Boca Raton. Although there was already one chapter, a new group of people got together to form a new one. You can do this in your area, too. You just need to contact the proper person at BNI HQ. There's lots of work to be done in building the group initially, but I can't begin to tell you how amazing this group is once things begin to gel. We have just over 20 solid members in our group and each week we learn more about what the other people in our group do for a living, how to refer them, how to grow our business. I can see us hitting 40 members within 6 more months. Once you're over the beginning 'hump', you've really got the momentum to be a strong chapter!
Since only one person in each category is allowed to join, the balance of the group is perfect. In addition to that, the competition is actually fierce once professionals in the area find out about a new chapter forming. At the last meeting, I think we had something like 3 real estate attorneys vying for the slot.
You can read more about BNI here: http://bni.com/
Feel free to contact me if you have any more questions. Membership in this group is worth it's weight in gold.
Scott Miller, Realtor®