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  1. #1
    Brian Thomas's Avatar
    Brian Thomas Guest

    Default Networking groups

    Recently I have been told about a group called BNI-business netowrking international. Anyone ever hear of it? Anyone a member?

    Its a group that only allows one person per profession in each group. Its just a way to get your name out there for potential referrals. Anyway, Im gonna be attending a meeting soon just to check it out.

    Im just wondering the potential benefits of joining these types of groups...BNI, board of realtors, etc. Do the costs outweigh the benefits in most cases?

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  2. #2
    Ted Menelly's Avatar
    Ted Menelly Guest

    Default Re: Networking groups

    I joined a BNI group. It lasted a short time. I did get some work out of it but it just wasn't for me. First of all it is next to impossible to transfer any leads back to folks because you are after the list of folks that are in the group. Meeting times were smack dab in the middle of the day. 11:00 am for lunch. Forget about doing an inspection that morning. No time for the inspection and the meeting with the client to go over your inspection. It also pushed a possible afternoon inspection later as well. The inspections are not always next door.

    To each his own but it just was not for me. Oh yeah. It was at a Mexican restaurant and that was the food you ate every lunch meeting. That would have been nice to rotate around to the different restaurants.

    Money spent for the membership. Missed inspections or just put of was enough to convince me. Get some inspections. Lose money from missing others.

    I have heard of a guy some where around me that actually did quite well. Again, I guess you have to be into that kind of thing.


  3. #3
    Join Date
    Mar 2007
    Location
    Plano, Texas
    Posts
    4,170

    Default Re: Networking groups

    http://www.inspectionnews.net/home_i...rnational.html

    Check out the previous threads on the subject.
    On this and other subjects, just type in the subject (BNI in this instance) on the search box and previous discussions on that subject will pop up.

    Jim Luttrall
    www.MrInspector.net
    Plano, Texas

  4. #4
    Darrel Hood's Avatar
    Darrel Hood Guest

    Default Re: Networking groups

    I have belonged to a BNI group for approximately 3 years. It works for me. I get my annual BNI investment returned roughly every 3 weeks. It is good for some, not good for others.

    Darrel Hood
    DILIGENT PROPERTY SERVICES


  5. #5
    Brian Thomas's Avatar
    Brian Thomas Guest

    Default Re: Networking groups

    Quote Originally Posted by Jim Luttrall View Post
    http://www.inspectionnews.net/home_i...rnational.html

    Check out the previous threads on the subject.
    On this and other subjects, just type in the subject (BNI in this instance) on the search box and previous discussions on that subject will pop up.
    Actually I did search for a BNI thread in the search box before I started this but nothing popped up.

    Anyway, thanks for the info guys. I figured I would get some folks for it and some against. Both sides bring up good points


  6. #6
    Brian Thomas's Avatar
    Brian Thomas Guest

    Default Re: Networking groups

    Quote Originally Posted by Ted Menelly View Post
    I joined a BNI group. It lasted a short time. I did get some work out of it but it just wasn't for me. First of all it is next to impossible to transfer any leads back to folks because you are after the list of folks that are in the group. Meeting times were smack dab in the middle of the day. 11:00 am for lunch. Forget about doing an inspection that morning. No time for the inspection and the meeting with the client to go over your inspection. It also pushed a possible afternoon inspection later as well. The inspections are not always next door.

    To each his own but it just was not for me. Oh yeah. It was at a Mexican restaurant and that was the food you ate every lunch meeting. That would have been nice to rotate around to the different restaurants.

    Money spent for the membership. Missed inspections or just put of was enough to convince me. Get some inspections. Lose money from missing others.

    I have heard of a guy some where around me that actually did quite well. Again, I guess you have to be into that kind of thing.
    Yeah I could see where that would be a pain in the butt. Meeting in the middle of the day seems stupid because it may ruin your whole day to do inspections. I realize that HI are only one profession in the group.

    In this particular group that I may join, they meet at 730am and its less than a 1/4 mile from my house so its very convenient for me and with meetings ending at 9am, there is plenty of time left in the day to get to do inspections


  7. #7
    Join Date
    Mar 2007
    Location
    Spring City/Surrounding Philadelphia area
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    3,473

    Default Re: Networking groups

    I have no doubt the groups work as long as you are committed to the idea and the group is made up of like-minded individuals. But like others, it was not for me. I was invited to join LeTip and went to one meeting. I was just getting started in the HI business and they wanted a $300 application fee and yearly dues of $600. $900 right off the bat was not what I had in mind. Plus, there was the pressure of having to bring a referral in every week and the pressure of having to bring and sign up one new member to the group every year. If I wanted homework, I'd go back to school. I would have dreaded every meeting.

    Something that struck me about the meeting was how over-complicated they made a simple idea like lead sharing. Why did you have to pay dues? Why was there an application fee? Who got all this money? Why did we need to meet every week? It was far too structured for my liking.

    Last edited by Nick Ostrowski; 11-13-2008 at 11:36 AM. Reason: typos

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Apr 2008
    Location
    Hillsborough, NC
    Posts
    10

    Default Re: Networking groups

    Hi Brian,
    When I began my inspection business I joined a BNI group. Another inspector suggested it. In the first year as an inspector I got about a third of my business from the BNI group. I stayed on as a member for two more years and ended up being the president of the chapter. I think it was a great way to start my business. Now I have moved on but I joined another networking group started by the local chamber of commerce.
    In my experience, networking is a great source of referrals, and BNI helped a lot, not just with giving me business, but helping me to be a better networker. They have lots of training available that comes with the annual fee - so no additional charge.
    You can also do good online networking through LinkedIn.com

    Jamey

    Jamey Tippens, LLC Home Inspections
    Jamey Tippens, LLC, Home Inspections: Hillsborough; Durham; Chapel Hill; Mebane; Burlington, NC


  9. #9
    Join Date
    Feb 2008
    Location
    Tennessee
    Posts
    105

    Default Re: Networking groups

    I, too, was a member of a local BNI chapter and also became the president of that chapter (which waived my member fees for one year). While it was a valuable experience in learning how to market ones self as well as to actually network with fellow members, the impact it had on my business did not warrant the time or money involved. First of all, my meetings were also during lunch time and that pretty much allowed for roughly one inspection on that day. Most importantly, however, was the fact that our business, which is tailored to a specific person at a very specific time with a very short window, makes referrals like this almost few and far between. For example, how many of us at this very moment know of someone who is in the market for a new home? How many people do we know that are actively searching and ready to sign a contract and get that home inspected within the probable 5-day window? Not too many.....nor do any of the members in that BNI or other networking group. In fact, the group I was in had an agent who got me to join. Of course, I would get her referrals, however, I was getting them all anyway.

    Bottom line, it just wasn't for me in the long run. Our business just ins't that conducive to its purpose of gaining referrals.

    Greg


  10. #10
    Join Date
    Mar 2007
    Location
    Fuquay Varina, NC
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    1,072

    Default Re: Networking groups

    Plus, there was the pressure of having to bring a referral in every week and the pressure of having to bring and sign up one new member to the group every year.
    Nick hit that one on the head. I have enough stress without adding that to it. Friend of mine wanted me to join but I turned it down. He was a handy man and was making a killing because everyone new someone that needed something fixed.

    Mike Schulz License 393
    Affordable Home Inspections
    www.houseinspections.com

  11. #11
    Join Date
    Mar 2007
    Location
    Chandler, AZ
    Posts
    119

    Default Re: Networking groups

    I was invited to a meeting and went to it. I was surprised how many BNI groups are in my area. It looked like a real good environment to learn presentation/networking skills. However, the rule that you couldn't miss, I think it was 2, meetings was a show stopper for me. I didn't want to block my schedule out and possibly miss the chance of getting work. Plus it seemed that there was a lot of pressure to get "leads" for everyone else in the group. I'm not a pushy guy, so pushing a handful of business cards on all my new clients was outside my comfort zone. Yep, not for everyone, but it does look like a great group for some.

    Dave Hill
    Buyers & Sellers Property Inspections LLC
    WWW.BuyersSellersPi.Com

  12. #12
    Join Date
    Jul 2007
    Location
    Rescue, Ca.
    Posts
    48

    Default Re: Networking groups

    I was in BNI for a year and a half. It was good for me at first to meet other business people in the area, and learn how to speak in front of them to promote my business. Without that experience I could never have done an Office Meeting at some Real Estate offices. I never got a referral from BNI the first year. But I did get a few in the last six months. The realtor that invited me to join never used me or gave me any referrals. It was a big commitment to be at the weekly meetings. I call the experience good and bad. I think if you are considering joining to go to a couple of their meetings as a guest to feel them out, before shelling out the $430 to join.


  13. #13
    Nick J. Alati's Avatar
    Nick J. Alati Guest

    Default Re: Networking groups

    I first joined LeTips, the group folded within 6 months, I transferred to a different LeTips Group, after 2 months or so I asked the Real Estate Agent in the group why he never tried my service, he reply was, his Brother-in-law is a Home Inspector! I then Joined a Smaller Group but they had 38 members (about 25 or active every week). Did failery good with it for about the first six months, market slowed down, group got smaller and I droped out. I have a good frind that is also a Home Inspector, he with BNI and loves it! Go figure! Looking back, I spent a lot of time and money building a referal group, I think it was helpfull in building my bussiness, I live in a city of 5 Mil people and 1200 other Inspectors, and I needed to grt my name out there. If the customer does not know you are out there your phone will never ring, if the phone never rings your going to have a Bad Xmas!


  14. #14
    Patrick McCaffery's Avatar
    Patrick McCaffery Guest

    Default Re: Networking groups

    I joined a BNI and did not get a referral the first year. I was going to quit, but they elected me Vice president. The Realtor, who is an independent Realtor is finally giving me inspections. Other members have started recommending me to friends who are realtors and also friends who need inspections.

    Now I am President. The purpose of BNI is that givers gain. You have to go into it with that in mind. As President I have formed Power Teams, which are members in similar business. The Realtor Team has the Realtor, and Insurance Company, a Handyman, a Fire & Water Clean-up company, and HVAC Company and of course myself. We are all working together to promote our group. We are going to have a seminar for home buyers.

    I have been able to give referrals to the HVAC, Insurance and Handyman, but not the Realtor. That is one are in which I need to improve.

    Our BNI meets at 7:00 AM, so it does not interrupt business hours.

    Another source of referrals and networking is also the Chamber of Commerce that I belong to. I serve on one of the committees and I attend as many events that I can.

    Before joining any organization, you need to go in with the attitude, that you are willing to give something.


  15. #15
    Join Date
    Aug 2008
    Location
    Atlanta, GA
    Posts
    162

    Default Re: Networking groups

    Brian, did you end up joining? You can visit any chapter as a visitor twice and fill in as a substitute for anyone. What I have found is that I receive an average of 1-2 inspections per month from it. The BNI philosophy is "Givers Gain". In other words, if you are active in providing quality referrals for other group members, then people will refer you. It takes some time to build up trust and get to know others on a 1-to-1 basis. The weekly commitment to attend encourages accountability and consistency.

    As inspectors, there are opportunities to refer service people like carpet cleaners, landscapers, house cleaners, home stagers, electricians, handyman, plumbers, etc. There are some folks we will be able to refer to and others you can't. Within each group there are groups or contact spheres including a real estate sphere with Realtor, mortgage broker, closing attorney and inspector and then there are contractor spheres, financial spheres, etc.

    I meet in the morning and I can still schedule 2 inspections for the day. I just start a little later. I have come to know a number of service providers who I know and trust and they have extended discounts to me as a BNI member. Networking through BNI has been beneficial for me. I have honed my group speaking and presentation skills, and have opportunities to do 10-minute referral training sessions to train others on referring me. The Chamber of Commerce does not have an exclusive, one member per profession provision. Nor do they provide referral and networking training quite like BNI.

    Lastly, there are some social aspects of it to. As inspectors, our office is at the inspected property and the ability to interact with others is limited.


  16. #16
    Ted Menelly's Avatar
    Ted Menelly Guest

    Default Re: Networking groups

    Quote Originally Posted by Patrick McCaffery View Post
    I joined a BNI and did not get a referral the first year. I was going to quit, but they elected me Vice president. The Realtor, who is an independent Realtor is finally giving me inspections. Other members have started recommending me to friends who are realtors and also friends who need inspections.

    Now I am President. The purpose of BNI is that giveYorkiesrs gain. You have to go into it with that in mind. As President I have formed Power Teams, which are members in similar business. The Realtor Team has the Realtor, and Insurance Company, a Handyman, a Fire & Water Clean-up company, and HVAC Company and of course myself. We are all working together to promote our group. We are going to have a seminar for home buyers.

    I have been able to give referrals to the HVAC, Insurance and Handyman, but not the Realtor. That is one are in which I need to improve.

    Our BNI meets at 7:00 AM, so it does not interrupt business hours.

    Another source of referrals and networking is also the Chamber of Commerce that I belong to. I serve on one of the committees and I attend as many events that I can.

    Before joining any organization, you need to go in with the attitude, that you are willing to give something.
    Here in lies the problem. I don't refer anyone for the concerns I find. Technically we are suppose to have something in writing stating that the referral give is not coming with any kick back to you. Besides. I throw company names that I have heard but I do not directly refer an individual or company. If they ask me if I know of any foundation folks in the area I will throw a name or two out there but to openly give referrals to a BNI member with hopes of gaining work from it as in a referral back then that is technically benefiting you. I won't get caught up in "Well you referred him and said he was a wonderful, smart, intelligent, professional that new what he was doing better than anyone out there"

    If you are going to make money off of giving someone a referral and know quite well you are then that becomes an ethic thing. In Texas or it should be anywhere. You give a referral and get a referral back and make money. Hmmm, was there really anything wrong with the air handler????? That is why it is a no, no. Indirect referrals such as a list of HVAC folksw just as our Realtors or should I say my Realtors do. They do not refer me directly as there soul referral. They refer me with at least one to 2 other inspectors. Now, if they are asked directly which inspector appears to be the most thorough and professional and they say that the feed back has been more toward Ted then that is a different story.

    I have once in a blue moon referred a realtor unless they were getting screwed over by someone else or if someone noticed my name and company on my truck when I was going into a reteraunt they struck a conversation and siad did I know any realtors in the area. I will ask them what area and then throw a name or 2 at them.

    Anyway, to each his own. I don't really have any concern with folks passing referrals off. Word of mouth is where a lot of business comes from for everyone. But a directly benefitting mutual, we are going to both make money from referring one another. Well, it is not allowed here or should I say frowned upon, and probably should not be allowed and if we do it there is technically suppose to be a statement going with it.

    "Givers Gain" WEll, that tells it all, know doesn't it. You are directly referring for financial gain.


  17. #17
    Brian Thomas's Avatar
    Brian Thomas Guest

    Default Re: Networking groups

    I have not joined as of yet because of the time committments. I am a stay at home dad so I am not able to commit to weekly meetings as of yet. If the time comes, I am still considering it. I can see both sides of the story though.

    I too have thought about the ethical side of it. Giving referrals based strictly on hopes in getting business back can be considered a "grey" ethical area. Im not sure I want to get mixed up in all that right now. Im not sure Im ready for the pressure of having to constantly refer people. I really just like to get in, do the inspection and get out. I would think that clients will be turned off by a HI selling them on a bunch of different services just because you feel pressured by the group to do so

    I can see how it can benefit a person as well. It can help in public speaking and help refine your selling skills. I believe it can also help drum up some business for a person as well. 2-3 inspections from BNI will certainly cover the costs of joining.


  18. #18
    Ted Menelly's Avatar
    Ted Menelly Guest

    Default Re: Networking groups

    Quote Originally Posted by Brian Thomas View Post
    I have not joined as of yet because of the time committments. I am a stay at home dad so I am not able to commit to weekly meetings as of yet. If the time comes, I am still considering it. I can see both sides of the story though.

    I too have thought about the ethical side of it. Giving referrals based strictly on hopes in getting business back can be considered a "grey" ethical area. Im not sure I want to get mixed up in all that right now. Im not sure Im ready for the pressure of having to constantly refer people. I really just like to get in, do the inspection and get out. I would think that clients will be turned off by a HI selling them on a bunch of different services just because you feel pressured by the group to do so

    I can see how it can benefit a person as well. It can help in public speaking and help refine your selling skills. I believe it can also help drum up some business for a person as well. 2-3 inspections from BNI will certainly cover the costs of joining.

    I am not trying to talk you out of it at all but am just giving things to conceder.

    One thing I added up was the lost inspections for time involvement and then of course, the time to drive there and back and the time for the meeting and then the true time added in for one on one marketing. That one meeting, time wise, costs the amount of time for one inspection and if you get with a group in the middle of the day and can be the cost of one or even 2 inspections. Even at the cost of one inspection, time wise (at least a few hours, what do you get for and inspection?) that time is 4 inspections time wise a month.

    Try this. Every time you do and inspection you will know the listing and the buyers agent. Send them both marketing material (flier and such) have a convo on the phone with both. That alone will get you more referrals with out the time involvement of meetings and possibly missed inspections.

    Your referrals at the meetings are giving names and phone numbers of you clients to the people that you are passing referrals to. As you said. This is a very gray area where you are finding the concerns and then giving the referral to someone where you will more than likely be getting a referral back that you make money on. Very gray.


  19. #19
    Join Date
    Apr 2007
    Location
    Alexandria, KY
    Posts
    6

    Default Re: Networking groups

    I have belonged to BNI for the past 3 years, we meet at 7:30 am 9:00 am, it has been very beneficial, I would recommend anyone to take a look at it. The big thing is to find a group that meets at a time that fits your schedule and find a group that fits your needs as well as the groups, check out several before you join one.

    Michael P.


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