When I was first starting this web design and marketing company in South Jersey, I knew I needed to connect with other business owners. I went to a few meetups and business networking groups in South Jersey but never found one that I could connect with. Finding customers for a marketing company is different than a B2C business. Business owners that need a marketing agency aren’t just randomly searching online. They need a company they can trust and usually will use a company that has been referred to them by a friend.
How I found a Networking Group in South Jersey
I was in the process of buying a house. It was a long and stressful process. Because I am self employed the process is grueling. We had many issues while we were under contract. My mortgage guy was Thom Perkins at Union Home Mortgage. Through all the issues Thom was calm and collected. I have a very low key, laid back personality as well so we were able to handle everything with little stress. The deal almost fell through 3 days before closing from a mistake that was not our fault. But we worked through it and closing was quick and easy.
Through that process Thom knew about my businesses and the new Web design and Marketing company I was building. Thom asked me to come and visit his networking group in South Jersey, specifically in Absecon NJ. Even though I had visited networking events in South Jersey, I didn’t have much luck so I decided to go. I figured that Thom was a good guy and I could just hang out with him the whole time if I found that it was the same old style of network group. You know the kind of business networking I’m talking about. You go to a networking event and nothing ever gets accomplished. Business owners and MLM networkers are just cramming you with business cards. The type of event where you leave knowing you just wasted an hour or two of your life.
The Best Business Networking Groups in South Jersey
I went to Thom’s networking event and really enjoyed myself. He was a part of BNI, which I had heard of and was a bit leery about. But since Thom was such a great guy I gave it a chance. I was shocked at how much was accomplished in the meeting. If you have never been to a BNI chapter in South Jersey you need to give it a chance. Especially if you dislike the average style of business networking groups. I am going to go over the reasons I love BNI and have been able to grow my business so fast because of it. Just recently I found negative BNI reviews online. I was a bit surprised to see them. Maybe they were in a chapter with some bad apples. My BNI experiences have been awesome. I firmly believe BNI is one of the best business networking groups I could be apart of. This post is going to to be a positive BNI review. Just so you know my point of view up front.
What is BNI
This intro is going to be quick. BNI is a business networking group that’s sole purpose is for the members to pass referrals to each other. There are yearly dues but I found they are not expensive and I have made exponentially much more from BNI then my yearly dues. If you want to find out more about BNI just look at their website. I don’t need to go on and on here about what it is when you can read it first hand. It’s a global referral based business networking group.
BNI only allows one member in a chapter per profession. If you are the only painter in a group, no other painter can join.
A BNI meeting has a specific structure. It is highly organized. One reason I love it so much is because of the strict structure. Every member knows why they are there and what they have to do. I know there are BNI chapters that I probably would not have joined. I’m glad I went to the one I did. I believe the people in the group make or break a chapter. BNI chapters get to decide on if they want to accept a new member. It’s great fro quality control. If you are in a good group you only want to accept people who will fit the group and are as driven as everyone else to succeed.
A BNI meeting follows a strict schedule.
- OPEN NETWORKING: The meeting begins punctually with 15 minutes of open networking.
- WELCOME VISITORS
- NETWORKING EDUCATION: The Education Coordinator gives a 3-5 minute presentation on networking.
- PASS BUSINESS CARD BOX
- VISITORS ARE WELCOMED
- MEMBERS’ WEEKLY PRESENTATION: Members go around the room and give a 30 second commercial about themselves and what their perfect referral looks like.
- VICE PRESIDENT’S REPORT
- TREASURER REPORT
- SPEAKER GIVES 6-12 MINUTE PRESENTATION
- “I HAVE” PORTION OF THE MEETING: REFERRALS AND TESTIMONIALS: This is THE most important part of the meeting and what the main purpose of BNI is all about. Members go around the room and pass the referrals they have sent during the week. There is an app available to members and most likely the referral was passed on the app already. But the show and spectacle of seeing business being passed in the chapter is more of an affirmation.
- BNI ANNOUNCEMENTS
- REFERRAL REWARD PRIZE DRAWING FOR MEMBERS BRINGING VISITORS OR REFERRALS
- CLOSE MEETING
This schedule is all done in an hour and a half and is very prompt. A BNI meeting is fast moving and if you are in the right group, can be very fun.
BNI is based on the motto “Givers Gain”. Which is a take on the golden rule “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you”. The whole spirit of a BNI chapter should be to help others. I love that. In the process of building my business I am helping some great business owners in the community build theirs as well.
Last year our chapter passed around 300,000 worth of business. This year our goal is to pass 500,000, eventually hitting the million dollar mark.
BNI is just like everything else in life, it only works if you work it. If you are looking for a business networking group that will shower you with high quality referrals just for showing up, this is not the place for you.
If you want to connect with a group of awesome people and work hard at getting to know everyone, the results will be powerful. It is a process. But I can tell you from experience that I received so much business in my first year from BNI I recommend it to everyone.
If you are interested in visiting our chapter (or any chapter near you) shoot me a message and I help you. Hopefully when you visit you will see why BNI is one of the best business networking groups in South Jersey.