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Devon Life Business & Professional on Business Networking Clubs

PUBLISHED: 14:06 05 July 2012 | UPDATED: 21:35 20 February 2013

Devon Life Business & Professional on Business Networking Clubs

Devon Life Business & Professional on Business Networking Clubs

Have you heard the one about the dog trainer, the stonemason and the plumber?

Have you heard the one about the dog trainer, the stonemason and the plumber?

Its an unlikely combination of people, and stranger still, they regularly sit down to breakfast together. Whatever the weather, they are up and out at six every Wednesday morning for one purpose to talk business.
Junction 29 - Exeter is a chapter of Business Network International (BNI), one of a growing number of referral groups that are changing the way people find work. The BNI concept was developed by Dr Ivan Misner back in 1985. When his company ran into trouble, he turned to a handful of friends who supported and recommended him. He then recommended them, and in turn their business community began to thrive.
Business referral is founded on the startlingly simple principle that helping others encourages others to help you, hence BNIs mantra: givers gain. Each chapter needs at least 20 members to launch, some UK chapters have as many as 60, but with only one seat per trade or profession. The networkers swap leads and contacts among themselves, and look out for opportunities for each other. Last month there were 597 active chapters in the UK, who made 4.9 million referrals with a value of 283m.
A seat at BNI is said to be worth an average of 26,000 per year in increased business, but its not just coffee and chat, its a commitment.
Within each chapter, members must attend the weekly meeting or organise a substitute to go on their behalf. There is a joining fee and a code of ethics, which is strictly enforced, and all transactions are carefully logged and referrals monitored.
Lino Carlino is one of the longest-standing BNI member in Devon. He says that the concept only works because it is so structured. He has added tens of thousands of pounds to his turnover since joining.
I am still getting work from people I met on my first day at BNI 11 years ago. It becomes a business family. I know I can trust the people I recommend, and they can trust me. I can be sure they are what it says on the tin.
Its not always about the money. It was the training and support that was important to former military dog handler Martin Pashley.
When I started Happy Dogs, I found I needed to develop the business more quickly that I had anticipated. The discipline at BNI helped me to focus and pinpoint the important areas. I learned to delegate and manage so I was able to get the maximum benefit from my time.
There are ten BNI groups in Devon and Cornwall. Three are already up and growing, and seven more are preparing to launch. Momentum is strong according to Chief Executive Martin Bowdler: Our aim is for 45+ members in each chapter, all using the system to their best advantage and each passing business worth over 2m.
Those who make the commitment to take business referral seriously certainly seem to be getting results. Or could it be that in our increasingly faceless world, the personal touch really is the Midas touch?

Contact the local office 01626 818695 or

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