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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Jun 2013
    Location
    Arkansas
    Posts
    1

    Default BNI (Business Networking International) and other referral groups

    Just curious how many are a part of local referral groups. I'm a part of a couple. BNI's local charter is trying to get me over there. I've dealt with BNI in the past when I was a contractor...never really saw much from them.

    Do any of you use these forms of "marketing"? And if so, how does it pan out? Worth the effort/money (several are paid groups)?

    Thanks

    Daniel Burkhead
    All-Star Home Inspections

    Serving ALL of Central Arkansas

    Member Benefits1

  2. #2

    Default Re: BNI (Business Networking International) and other referral groups

    We've been invited to join several times, and have always declined. Mostly because, as a member, you are expected to provide leads to other members. I understand that works great for some businesses, but I don't want to be handing out my clients' personal contact information.

    Welmoed Sisson
    Inspections by Bob, LLC, Boyds, MD
    "Given sufficient thrust, pigs fly just fine."

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Mar 2007
    Location
    Knoxville, TN
    Posts
    2,446

    Default Re: BNI (Business Networking International) and other referral groups

    I've been a member of BNI and also REO. I left BNI because of the administration in my area, even though I really liked my group. After a time out, I joined REO and enjoyed it as well, but recently quit due to a scheduling thing.
    I was a top referral giver. I'm not sure what Welmoed means by giving out clients personal contact info. My experience it works just the opposite. My client might ask if I know any insurance people, and I hand them a card of the insurance guy in my group. Not the other way around.

    BNI, REO, Chamber of Commerce are all similar. They are networking groups. The concept of networking is to get to know people, and get them to know you, and refer business when you can. Do not expect to join a group and start getting business right away. Its a two way street, you have to give to get.

    I still get referrals from my old BNI friends, and still give referrals. Its NetWORKING though, you have to work at it.


  4. #4
    Join Date
    Nov 2009
    Location
    St Paul, MN
    Posts
    1,628

    Default Re: BNI (Business Networking International) and other referral groups

    I only refer people who's work I've seen firsthand. To give out referrals just to get referrals isn't in the best interest of my clients.

    MinnesotaHomeInspectors.com
    Minnesota Home Inspectors LLC
    ASHI #242887 mnradontesting.com

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Mar 2007
    Location
    Anacortes, Washington
    Posts
    395

    Default Re: BNI (Business Networking International) and other referral groups

    In the beginning we joined BNI because a Realtor invited us. It turned out she was just stating herself and saw very few leads from all the time we put in. I would say the productive Realtors don't belong to one of these groups......

    //Rick

    Rick Bunzel
    WWW.PacCrestInspections.com
    360-588-6956

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Mar 2007
    Location
    Knoxville, TN
    Posts
    2,446

    Default Re: BNI (Business Networking International) and other referral groups

    Just to clear up a point.... I didn't and don't give referrals to my clients just to give referrals. I only give referrals to someone I have personally used, or know of their work, or know them pretty well.

    In networking groups, you typically meet for 1 1/2 hours every week. Besides that, you have one on one meetings where you get to know the other person. Each person also has a turn doing a 10 minute presentation to the group to show what they do, etc. After a few months, you get an idea of who you want to refer, and who you don't.
    In some cases, you may do business with the people in my group. I asked the insurance guy in my group to give me a quote, since I was coming up on renewal. He saved me almost $800 for better coverage, over a company I had been with for 15 years.
    I was introduced to a new CPA from a referral in my group.

    We had a plumber in our group, and after getting to know him, and listening to his 10 minute presentations, I had no problems referring him to my clients, even though he had never worked for me. My clients thanked me for referring him.

    Keep in mind, that not every referral is given to my home inspection clients, some are friends, or friends of friends.

    A few days ago, I had a realtor ask me if I knew anyone that checked out sink holes. I told her I didn't but would ask around. The very next day I was doing an inspection, and my client gave me his card, and guess what??? He is a geologist for a engineering firm. I passed on his name to the realtor. Now, I have no idea if he is a good geologist or not, but I passed on his number explaining just how I got his number. She may get numbers from other sources as well, but at least its a start for her.

    Networking is not easy. I looked at BNI and REO as having a sales team out there working for me. If I had 20 people in my group, and they got to know me, and trusted me, they could pass out my number if they were talking to someone and the topic of home inspections came up. Same for me, if I was out and ran into someone talking about their car insurance bill, I could refer them to my insurance agent. I have a business card folder full of cards of people I know, and trust.

    I want my clients to think of me as their go to guy when they need something related to their home. I get calls all the time asking if I know a tree guy, or electrician, or what kind of cool ladder I have. The more contact I have with past clients means the more likely they will refer me to their friends or co-workers.

    I even got a client a job once. I always ask my clients what they do for a living, or what brought them to Knoxville, and the wife said she was looking for a job. A woman in my BNI group asked if any of us new someone that needed a job, since she was getting too busy and needed some help. I put them together, and it worked out for them. Now, I didn't know my client really at all, but it was just an introduction.

    A referral is sometimes that - just an introduction. Let the two parties see if its a good fit.


  7. #7
    Join Date
    Aug 2013
    Location
    NY - New York
    Posts
    4

    Default Re: BNI (Business Networking International) and other referral groups

    I have been a member of BNI for 8 years & an inspector for 24. Short answer - one of the best investments I have ever made in my business.
    Long answer - The key differences between BNI and just about any other networking group are the philosophy of "givers gain" - the more I help you build your business, the more my business will grow. Think of it as business karma if you will. What you get at BNI are referrals not leads. A referral is defined as someone who has expressed an interest in your product or service and is ready to buy. Every week you tell your fellow members what specifically would be a great referral for you. If you ask for "anyone" or "someone" you tend to get "no one" but if you ask for a referral to Susie Jones, the realtor you've never done an inspection for, you very likely will get that referral. The people who don't benefit from their BNI membership are those who come in with the "gainers give" philosophy - help me out first and then I'll help you - or expect immediate results - it's an investment & will take time to earn real and substantial long-term growth. Unlike other networking groups, only one member of any profession is allowed in a BNI chapter - you are the only home inspector in the group. Consistency. You go (or have a substitute go) every week. Doing so helps you build relationships & credibility which ultimately results in profitability.
    Every BNI chapter is different. Go visit several until you find the best fit. Look at the numbers - number of members, number of referrals passed and especially closed business (actual business generated from the referrals passed). The group I belong to had about 30 members last year and generated almost $900,000 in closed business last year. My business has grown every year. I have profited enough from referrals to pay for my membership for the rest of my life. No other investment of time or money has ever given me the ROI that BNI has.


  8. #8
    Join Date
    Jan 2013
    Location
    New Hampshire
    Posts
    6

    Default Re: BNI (Business Networking International) and other referral groups

    My philosophy is develop a good realtor base (I know, a bit of a contradiction in terms), do a good job on your inspections, provide a quality report that clients can understand (don't worry about realtor as they never get past summary page)...and the referrals will keep coming in with minimal money or time invested in these social groups. I have been a member of several, including BNI. They can be fun and entertaining, and I have been the recipient of many referrals as a result. No matter what marketing avenue you pursue, the key is to do a GOOD PROFESSIONAL JOB...word travels quickly when you do & even faster when you don't!! I pick up alot of business from the "not-so-good" fallout left behind by some inspectors in my area.


  9. #9
    Join Date
    Jun 2008
    Location
    Maryland
    Posts
    1,049

    Default Re: BNI (Business Networking International) and other referral groups

    I always try to avoid the "you scratch my back and I'll scratch yours"

    No social groups for me. No Marketing to realtors either. Just plain old internet search presence and referrals from past clients to their friends and family.


  10. #10
    Join Date
    Sep 2007
    Location
    Fredericksburg, VA
    Posts
    885

    Default Re: BNI (Business Networking International) and other referral groups

    I was invited several times but never joined. They all have a mandatory show up clause. I couldn't always guarantee that I could be free in the middle of the day.

    The above statements are expressed solely as my opinion and in all probability will conflict with someone else's.
    Stu, Fredericksburg VA

  11. #11
    Join Date
    Mar 2007
    Location
    Spring City/Surrounding Philadelphia area
    Posts
    3,473

    Default Re: BNI (Business Networking International) and other referral groups

    I was invited to join to LeTip and went to one meeting. That was enough for me. The pledge of allegiance at the start of every meeting (no problem with the POA, just seemed kinda grade schoolish to me), little fines for not bringing in a lead every week, kicked out of the group if you miss more than 2 meetings per year, kicked out of the group if you don't sign one new member up every year, etc. I'm not interested in making sales pitches during my inspections to feel people out and ask them if they need an insurance guy or a cell phone guy or a financial planner etc. Plus, I had no idea what type of workers or professionals these people were so to blindly refer them could come back to bite me if they were slackers. And taking the time to get to know them? Sorry, not enough time in my life for that.

    I don't doubt these groups work as long as they are made up of like-minded people but it wasn't for me and I would have felt like I had homework to do every week before the meeting.

    "It takes a big man to cry. It takes an even bigger man to laugh at that man". - Jack Handey

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