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Average Joe
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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Last week I attended a business networking program, a chapter of BNI. The idea behind it is when you have 22 members you form a chapter. Within that chapter, one member of each profession is represented, i.e, one lawyer, one accountant, one GC, etc.etc.

The members within that group refer clients to one another by word of mouth.

My next door neighbour says he needs a lawyer, I recommend the lawyer from my bni chapter. The idea behind it is obvious reciprocity, ideally you would have 21 members of the group that are now acting as a quasi sales force for you and your company.

I was invited to one of these things after a mortgage agent that I did some work for in the past sent me a referral, a deal where I signed the contract for yesterday.

Anyone with some experience/feedback with such groups? There's a $600 annual membership fee, meetings every week. This might be great idea, there is no underestimating the value of "word of mouth referrals".
 

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Chief outhouse engineer
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I checked out our local chapter a few years ago.

Down sides are mandatory meeting every week for 1-2 hours. Since I live in a rural area, this would require me to be in the specific town every Wed. morning. Since I work a 45 minute radius from my home, that means I would have to be at the meeting even if I was working an hour in the opposite direction. Local meetings were on Wed morning at 8 or 9. Takes the heart out of my day. I can't lose a day a week to go to a networking meeting.

Second problem I had was my business is not based on volume of customers, I typically only have 20-30 customers a year. Word of mouth is great, and most of my work is from referals, but the references are previous customers.

The annual fee is not too big a deal, but you have to decide if your business model is based on lots of customers making small purchases or a few customers making large purchases.
 

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I participated in a networking group quite a few years back. The problem I had was that we are a residential remodeling company and most of the group members were interested in business leads. We kept getting leads for commercial work. It just didn't fit with our business model.

I like the concept but that particular group didn't work for our company.
 

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FairfaxGC
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We are a memeber of a local BNI and my word of advice is this...

BNI is as good as the particular BNI chapter you are involved in, some chapters are better than others, and in you ability to learn and use their system to your advantage.

We receive only a few construction projects a year directly from the chapter we attend but have been introduced to a collection of architects, interior designers, kitchen/ bath designers etc that send us some quality projects. The HVAC guy and "handy man" in our group are making a small fortune.

You do need to be able to committ to the weekly meeting and to being activily involved which does rule out most small construction companies and subs.

We love it but it is not for everybody.
 

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look at a website called: meetup.com
They feature all kinds of meetings in your city , including lead groups. I decided to go to 2 meetings per week and tried quite a few and found a good group of people. It is a way for people to get to know you.

Terry
 

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I was a member of Le Tip and didn't get any work out of it as a Solar Contractor, although I have a good prospect now from someone in there even though I've been out of the group for a while.

The Electrical Contractor in the group (I'm an EC too, but you can only rep one category in the group) got a fair amount of work there, including from me.

The plumbing guy got a ton. The HVAC guy got some. Auto repair was the best biz for that group though.
 

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I was in BNI for a while. it didn't work for me. Not worth the time.

I would suggest building a referral relationship with other business owners that share the same customer base as you but sell noncompeting products.
 

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Average Joe
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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
As a personal update, I opted out.

Thanks for the feedback, it brought some perspective into my decision making process.

The chapter meetings are an approximate 45 mins away from my home. They changed the time slot to 7 a.m. vs 9 a.m. but as I thought about it more and more it still means 1.5 hrs of travel, an hour of meeting every wed. morning means 2.5 hrs of lost time + gas and k's. On a management/cost plus contract where I bill for site super hrs that's literally 2.5 x $50 = $125 + gas/k's/$5 sit fee/coffee of LOST PAY and expenses which puts me closer to $150. That's how much I would be basically paying, every week, in addition to the annual membership fee just to attend.

150x52 + 600 = $8,400.00/year.

10% of annual profits means 84k.

That's double my current ad budget. I guess it works for some, but I personally like some of the other suggestions made on here (build your own network). The only hurdle with that is it doesn't happen over night. Well, back to the drawing board. Thanks again.:thumbsup:
 

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Have you check with your local Chamber Of Commerce? Often times they will have networking groups setup and their fee's are very reasonable. I find the price for the BNI group a little on the high side.

I have been in networking groups for 7 years and they work very well for me. It helps if you are a more sociable type person.

Good luck.
 
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