The old adage “it’s not what you know – it’s who you know” is quite often near the surface of any new business relationship, and for the dedicated members of BNI Olympians Lincoln, this adage only scratches the surface as to the roots of their success. Read on, as I attend their weekly meeting and witness “first hand” why so many businesses are eager for a coveted membership into their local BNI Chapter!
It was an early Wednesday morning. A crisp breeze chilled the air as I parked up at the Lincoln Hotel, the venue for this week’s BNI Olympians Lincoln meeting. I made my way towards the entrance carrying my camera bag and a few nervous butterflies.
I’m usually still in bed at this time of day. However it was actually pleasant to see the roads so empty on my drive in, and the morning sun still lazy in the sky. A quick check of the watch. 6:30am.
I walked up the entrance steps towards the hotel lobby and was immediately hit with the reassuring warm aroma of fresh coffee which coaxed me inside. I then received a friendly welcome greeting by two helpful and very awake BNI members who directed me to the stacked breakfast bar. Seriously, this breakfast bar had cereals, drinks, pastries, a full English on the go! Deciding it was still way too early for me, I played it safe with a coffee and began to mingle. Don’t worry breakfast bar, I’ll come back to you later!
Within minutes I was welcomed into conversations and began chatting with other members who business backgrounds varied dramatically. A plumber. A graphic designer. A joiner. An accountant. A personal trainer.
BNI or “Business Network International” is a global network of members divided up into local Chapters, and this weekly event was organised by the BNI Olympians Lincoln. Each chapter is made up of members who stem from unique business backgrounds sharing the drive to “refer” business to one another. The key aspect here is there is only ever one representative for a particular trade, so there is only one estate agent, one personal trainer, one electrician, and so on.
After some initial networking, I decided to filter through to the large open-space meeting room, decked out in BNI livery with tasteful place cards, notepads, and drinks laid out for each attendee.
Slap bang in the middle of the room on display was a large transparent box, jammed packed with pieces of colourful paper which turned out to be the mass of “referrals” the Chapter had accumulated.
It was quite impressive! Every one of those little pieces of paper represented someone’s time and effort to secure a warm introduction for a fellow BNI member, and the potential for new business.
Scanning around the empty room, I quickly realised that this isn’t just a run-of-the-mill networking meeting. BNI is well oiled machine for those serious about creating and nurturing new business relationships and opportunities in their local community.
I took a few photos and then waited for everyone to filter through and begin taking their seats.
My Warranty Administration Services Ltd colleague Jo Rimmer, who is also the present BNI Olympians Lincoln Chapter Director headed the meeting and began proceedings. Going around the room, each Team Leader stood up and gave a short introduction as to their role within the Chapter. As well the key responsibilities that come with a BNI membership, some members undertake extra responsibilities such as meeting logistics, the welcoming and training of new members, and managing the chapter finances. Again, this is not your usual messy networking meeting where you’ll find little pockets of professionals nervously “milling around” holding a lukewarm coffee. BNI is a support infrastructure to help you gain new leads, and offer as much support and guidance to both you as a professional and your company.
The attraction for businesses to join their local chapter is not only the professionalism and resourcefulness to drive new referrals into the chapter, but also the extensive support framework, coaching, and inspiring “team camaraderie” which I witnessed first hand that bubbled throughout the meeting.
New members were introduced and even inducted into the Chapter that morning, being handed a very impressive welcoming pack, and a genuine reception from all those attending.
Next was a feature 10-minute presentation by the “Finance Power Team” of the Chapter. This comprised of an accountant, a property investor, a will writer, a conveyancer and a mortgage advisor. Taking an example, they illustrated how one simple enquiry can lead to a chain reaction of referrals within the chapter to help solve the customer’s problem.
It was a very slick demonstration to highlight not only the scope of resources available for any given situation, but also the fluidity of the team itself.
Finally as per every meeting, each member was then allowed to stand up and give their “60 Seconds”. A short blurb about themselves, their business, and most importantly who they are seeking a warm introduction to. It gives the other members a clear understanding of what each person is marketing for, so over the next week they can keep an ear to the ground for any possible business opportunities.
My colleague Jo gave me the reigns for this one and I nervously stood up and read aloud my prewritten “60 Seconds”. It was quite a buzz to represent Warranty Admin in this way, and request an introduction to one of our local motor dealers!
After the meeting I took a couple of photos of all the members, and then we filed through back to the breakfast area where I took full advantage of the delicious pastries on offer! It was really nice to see that even after the formalities of the meeting, everyone remained behind to chat and share a few light conversations. You really got a sense of team, and a genuine enthusiasm for being a part of the BNI family.
I started with an adage, and I’d also like to finish with one! A close acquaintance of mine once said “what goes around – comes around”, and those words will always ring true to me. From what I have witnessed, those words also ring true throughout BNI where each member through their own time and resources, endeavours to seek out new positive opportunities for their colleagues within the chapter.
Whether it’s a friend on Facebook reporting a faulty boiler, or an acquaintance whose business website needs a facelift, or a family member looking for a safe financial investment opportunity – knowing the right respected person for the job and having the confidence to stake your reputation upon that referral, has become a craft in itself. Referring new business within the BNI chapter is a mutual success based upon a respected code of ethics, an enthusiastic desire to chase new opportunities, and a respect and knowledge of each member’s strengths.
I hope you’ve enjoyed this post about my experience attending my local BNI chapter! If you’d like to learn more about BNI Olympians Lincoln, please contact Jo Rimmer on 01522 515603 or email email@example.com
Meet some of the BNI Olympians Lincoln Team!
Rebecca Brittain – Lincolnshire Media
“We can connect you to your customers locally through advertising on our websites. Reach over 25,000 people a day! Call us today on 01522 820000 & ask for Rebecca Brittain.”
Anton Fowler – Bubble. Design for Communication
“We are specialists in print and web, with 20 years of experience under our belts, we know what is possible. We work with you to understand where you want to go and what you’d like to achieve. Whatever you are looking for in your business, we can help you get more of it.”
Derri Coppin – EweMove Lincoln
“My name’s Derri, and as your local Estate Agent in Lincoln, I can help you get the best price for your property and make the process as smooth as possible for you along the way. I’m confident that I can help you sell your home fast so confident that I will guarantee to sell your home in 27 days or £1,000 off my fees (see full terms).”
Dave Orrey – Bastien Jack
“Bastien Jack are a Lincoln based, mid-sized (£5M – £10m) property development company of investment grade property. In addition to bank finance, we also help business’s and private clients achieve a secure decent yield by utilising their funds as part of our borrowing requirement via a crowdfunding mechanism.”
Rosalind Treadwell – The Wrightsure Insurance Group
“Wrightsure is one of the country’s largest privately owned insurance brokers with offices in Fareham, Lincoln, Liverpool, London and Thurrock. We specialise in haulage, bus, coach and community transport. We also provide insurance for performers, theatre groups and local amateur dramatic groups. Wrightsure – ensuring your insurance is right for you.”
If you’d like to find out more about BNI where you are, please see the links below!
Telephone BNI UK:
01923 891 999
Find your local BNI meeting:
Thank you for reading this WAS Blog post on my experience with BNI Olympians Lincoln!