PT: What is the Business Network Insiders Group?
Lissa Leslie: With over 150,000 members worldwide and 6500 chapters in the US, BNI is the largest business networking organization in the world. The BNI organization works by creating a group of people from various industries (one person per profession) and encouraging regular passing of referrals. What I like about BNI is that it is community oriented. The Clinton chapter, for instance, is comprised of local business people like myself who are as interested in the community as they are in their own enterprises.
PT:What Has BNI taught you Lissa?
Lissa Leslie: BNI has taught a lot about leadership. It is founded in the Givers’ Gain philosophy that by giving business to others you will get business in return. I’ve come to learn a respect for other professionals and what they do. I’ve learned a lot about the individuals and it is a place where we can come and encourage each other.
PT: What else have you learned about business leadership at BNI, Lissa?
Lissa Leslie: BNI is organized in a way that strengthens us in key leadership skills such as communication. Each week we hone our communications skills and marketing messages by giving a brief verbal “advertisement” to the group. This does two things: first we learn how to communicate our core marketing message in a confident and clear way and second members take YOUR voice and bring your message to other people. .
We also have regular educational messages such as what is the proper way to give a referral, how to dress for success, and similar topics.
PT:What are some of the hallmarks of a Clinton, NJ chapter BNI member?
Lissa Leslie: Most of the BNI members are entrepreneurs and some represent companies. The ones that are particularly successful at BNI have a number of characteristics in common.
PT: Can you comment on some of these characteristics?
Lissa Leslie: Sure. I am impressed by my fellow BNI members’ professionalism. Keeping your word is key and it is biblical. Let your “yes” be yes and your “no” be no. We show up on time. Our meeting starts at 7a.m. promptly and people show up and respect each other’s time. If you refer someone to a family or a friend you KNOW that they are going to show up on time and treat them with respect and professionalism.
BNI members are enthusiastic about their work. They are passionate about what it is that they do. This makes referring friends and acquaintances easy.
BNI members have concern for others in the organization. The system is structured in a way that strengthens personal relationships.
PT: How is that?
Lissa Leslie: Members are required to hold regular one on one meetings where we get to know each other as professionals, learn what services each other offer, and where we build friendships and trust in one another.
PT: What are some of the marks of a the most successful BNI networkers?
Lissa Leslie: I would say that follow through is the most important differentiator for those that get the most out of BNI. The system works well but members have to be faithful to the system execute the principles in order to get the most benefit.
One of the things I appreciate about our group in Clinton is how involved the local business network is with the community at large. Our members are pillars of the local community. They are Rotary members, they are involved in the schools, local sports, charitable organizations and they are concerned with issues that affect the community. I’m glad I stuck with BNI for the past year. It is fun, productive, and I’ve made a lot of new friends!
PT: Thank you Lissa!