My BNI Experience

I had experienced a great 2013- 2014 financial year with my business. Profits were up and I recall thinking finally I don’t need to focus on business development for the first time in 18 years of running my own business. Famous last words I’m afraid as within a few short weeks of that moment my business was ravaged by the jaws of bad luck through no fault of our own. A pharmaceutical client sold off 3 brands that I was solely managing to a competitor, a monthly magazine that we had designed for the last 8 years folded, the NSW Treasury announced strict changes to policy instructing government agencies that they could no longer contract outside design studios to do their annual reports, in 2013 we had produced 15 Government annual reports. Then it was announced that another Government client, DELTA Electricity which I was the rostered design agency to was being sold off. All of these events happened with a 4 week time frame.

I was rocked, what the hell was I going to do? I was faced with a $500,000 black hole in our normal yearly revenue. When I was younger I used to excel at sales and business development but I was an old man now, sales was a younger guy’s game, I quickly put on a 22 year old business development manager but realised that wasn’t going to bear much fruit for quite some time. Around this time Stephanie my creative director mentioned BNI to me, she said she previously worked for a studio in Surry Hills who were a member of a city chapter, she explained that half of the work that came into that studio was BNI. I was intrigued.

Stephanie and I went to visit a city chapter, it was an interesting experience, I had thought that it was a bit ‘full-on’ and slightly American but the numbers of referred or closed business that was passed was most impressive. There was however no opening in this City Chapter for a graphic design firm, they only allowed 1 person per category. Coincidentally at around the same time I was asked by my IT Consultant, Marco Fabiani to come to his BNI chapter which met at Five Dock. He basically would not take no for an answer so I went along to check it out one Wednesday morning. Immediately I was taken with the warm welcome and the energy of the group. There was a real positive vibe present.

I decided to put my toe in the water and apply for membership as they had a vacancy for a graphic designer. After a due process I was accepted into the chapter. That was nearly 2 years ago and I haven’t looked back since. BNI projects now account for half of the work in my studio, I am even receiving work from other BNI city chapters. It didn’t happen immediately but after members built up confidence in me and I embraced the givers gain philosophy of BNI the referrals started to flow.

BNI is an ideal vehicle for business networking in Sydney or anywhere around the developed world. BNI members are committed, that is why the system works.

BNI Innovate in Five Dock are a shinning example of a great BNI chapter. They are only 15 minutes from the city, there are no parking problems, the venue is amazing and the members are totally fabulous, I invite you to come and see for yourself.

Tony HoweTonic Connective

Tony Howe