Episode 62: Ninja Hack Alert – How to Grow Your Business by Going on a “BNI Tour”

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What’s going on everyone?

Thanks for tuning in to another fun, creative and awesome episode of The Creative Marketing Zone Podcast.

If this is your first time here then welcome – I am super happy you are here! Each Tuesday I release a new episode interviewing a marketing guru sharing his or her creative ninja tips (as we like to call it) to help you build and grow your business.

And on Friday’s, I release a solo episode (just like this one) sharing something new I have learned that works, doesn’t work, or just some general creative tips to help you skyrocket the growth of your empire!

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Alright, guys so this short solo episode is all about a hack to grow your business through offline marketing, in particular through the Business Networking International (BNI) system.

I am a huge proponent of growing your business both online and offline. I believe having a balanced approach is key. Of course, there is so much time in a day as we all know, so being smart about how you maximize your time to see the best results is always key.

Now, what is BNI?

BNI is a global organization comprised of chapters with members who fill particular seats (e.g. real estate, coaches, marketers, etc.). Only one seat can be filled per chapter and as a member, it is your responsibility to fulfill certain duties, which includes:

  • Showing up to the weekly meetings
  • Referring business to other members
  • Meeting with other members outside of the chapter to learn more about how you can help them grow and vice versa
  • Bringing visitors to the chapter
  • Fulfilling other duties where needed to keep the chapter running (this may be a chapter leadership seat)

Now, just to clear the air here – this is not an episode in which I bash BNI by any means. I had a wonderful experience in the chapter I was a member of for a year and a half or so. The relationships and business I was able to generate were phenomenal, to say the least.

Unfortunately, I had to abruptly step down recently for personal and business reasons. I will disclose the business reasons why below as I am not yet ready to share my personal reasons with everyone yet, which had nothing to do with BNI.

Now, I know some people tuning in have heard of BNI before and may have had a bad experience. And I bet this is probably because they were visiting or were a part of a bad chapter.

I have checked out other chapters before years back and I was unimpressed. I often felt like I was being targeted for another pyramid scheme or cult to join.

The key with BNI is finding a good chapter and deciding whether or not to join.

As I mentioned above, one of the reasons I had to leave was business related. My business currently is not set up to take on a bunch of clients at once – I would need to hire more staff. And truthfully, I did not go into business wanting this headache of having a ton of overhead.

My business actually is set up to run like a boutique consulting firm. I am perfectly happy at the moment making money managing 5-7 client accounts so I can spend more time on things like this podcast to grow my personal brand.

So, because of this, I was finding that each week I was asking for guests to be on my podcast with the BNI chapter I was a part of, and they were able to refer me wonderful guests.

But from a financial and time aspect, I was seeing the same results from social media. I was getting guests to be on the show for free and now I am in a position in which folks are reaching out to me to be on the show in which I need to filter out these results.

I was spending an average of 10-15 hours per week on BNI related stuff and I needed to re-prioritize my time better, which I did!

Below are the pros and cons of BNI based on personal experience:

Pros

  • You can exponentially grow your business
  • You can build great relationships and pass referral business (always feels good to do this)
  • Gets you out of the house and be around serious business professionals all seeking to grow their businesses

Cons

  • Serious time commitment involved. As I mentioned above, I was spending an average of 10-15 hours per week on BNI related stuff.
  • Financial investment required. There are annual and sometimes quarterly dues you must cough up. However, if you are doing your part to be a valued member of the chapter then you should see an ROI. Do keep in mind that this all depends on the seat you are filling and the type of business you are operating. Some businesses are able to see a faster ROI than others (e.g. caterer vs. someone selling real estate). This also has a lot to do with how active you are as a member. You must do your part to be visible and credible.

So, what is the BNI ninja hack?

The ninja hack I shared on this episode is how to grow your business through BNI without experiencing the cons listed above.

How can you do this?

Simple. Just go on a “BNI Tour.”

If you live in or near a metropolis, then chances are there are a plethora of BNI chapters. Visit each chapter, network, and follow-up with the members or other visitors of the chapter after each meeting.

Many of the BNI chapters will have a roster listing all the names and info of the members. Take this sheet with you and set up follow up one-to-one meetings with the members you want to connect with.

The members will be delighted since this could be a win-win. You may be able to refer business from your network of contacts and vice versa.

This is a much better approach than trying to schmooze and booze at one-off networking events. It is strategic and you don’t need to make any financial or time commitments of being a member of a chapter.

What are your thoughts? I share some more info and tips on the podcast episode.

Thanks for tuning in and be sure to join me again on Tuesday with our next interview featuring a marketing guru sharing his or her creative ninja tips to help you build and grow your business!

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