So many misconceptions surround the word “networking”. Are any of these scenarios familiar?
- …Networking is going to functions and meetings, passing out and collecting as many business cards as possible.
- …Networking is used only by multi-level marketing (MLM).
- …Networking is automatic.
- …I always ask for referrals from my clients; yet they rarely refer to me the one that I want?
- …Networking is fake, impersonal and superficial.
- …Networking is forced onto me, especially in BNI.
- …Networking skills are born with – only friendly and gregarious people can network effectively.
- …The moment I introduce myself, people will remember me for ever.
And the list just goes on.
BNI is a business networking organisation. What does this mean? Business and professionals come to the regular meeting to meet each other and build their relationship. We come to networking events with an objective and all we do are deliberate – whether consciously or subconsciously. Our focus in BNI is to give first, then gain. Thus, adhering to the philosophy that made this organisation bigger than Ivan Misner or the first chapter!
But how can we benefit from the whole system? How do we make use of the many tools and platforms given to us?
BNI incorporates education as a crucial part of the experience and systems:
- Agenda 3: Network Education Slot – In every meeting, the Network Education Coordinator (yes, we have such position) makes sure that members and visitors learn more about networking or the BNI system in a 3-minute slots. Usual topics range from how to invite visitors and how to record referrals to personality types and how to connect with people.
- Members Success Programme – All new members are required to attend the half-day Members Success Programme (MSP). In this basic training, the members learn the importance of their weekly presentations, how to deliver it effectively, the procedures and policies of BNI, the use of Visibility-Credibility-Profitability in BNI and in our social circles, and some theories like the Confidence Curve. Members who have attended the MSP may re-enroll for a refresher course. As one who both participated and delivered MSPs, you learn something new every time!
- Advance Workshops – BNI Regions also organise advance workshops like Effective 1-2-1s, BNI Connect Workshop and many more. You may view a list of these at the BNI Sarawak website (http://bnisarawak.com/training-support.php). Alternatively, find the region you are in to see their calendar of events. There are many elements in networking and the basic workshop cannot possibly cover them all. These workshops are generally free – participants cover the shared room costs.
- SuccessNet Online (http://successnet.czcommunity.com/) – On a global scale we may go to SuccessNet Online another resource for BNI Members and the general public. Because of the years it has been online, and the number of contributors, the website covers many aspects of networking in a more concise and topical manner.
- The Official BNI Podcast – Dr Ivan Misner, the Founder of BNI, shares his experience and insight through the Official BNI Podcast (http://www.bnipodcast.com/).
- BNI YouTube Channel (https://www.youtube.com/user/BNIOfficialChannel) – BNI also maintains a YouTube Channel.
- BNI on Facebook (https://www.facebook.com/BNIOfficialPage)
Application into a BNI Chapter is not an automatic acceptance. BNI Signature, the chapter I am in, has turned down many applications on many grounds. But being part of a chapter a member may put into practice the habits, knowledge and theories he or she may be tested out, and personalised.