During the fourteen years I have been a member at BNI Granta of Cambridge, it has been responsible for approximately 40% of my business. However, it was only by chance that I was introduced to the world of BNI and professional business networking. And it nearly didn’t happen at all.
Picture the scene; it was a cold, wet, sleety January evening. I had been out delivering leaflets to promote my fledgling leaflet distribution business that I had reluctantly started just a few months earlier. The work had already started to dry up and I was running out of money. The weather was so cold and miserable my hands had gone numb and started to stiffen up. I had almost finished and was at the last row of shops in a less well-heeled part of the city.
The last shop had a letterbox close to the ground and as I was so stiff, I didn’t fancy bending down to put the leaflet through. It was a pretty shabby looking place, the window was cluttered and full of “homemade” point of sale. As with all the shops in that road, mostly charities and takeaways, it could have done with a lick of paint. The shop’s name “Party Day’s” led me to assume it was a party supplies business and that they were unlikely to want my services. I turned and was about to walk away when I decided that the letterbox was really only a few feet away. It was the last one, and I would have to take the leaflet home anyway, so I might as well take a “punt”.
The next day I got a call from Peter Day of Party Days. He wanted me to deliver 1,000 leaflets, so I skipped off to meet him. That ropey looking shop seemed worth it after all. However, when I arrived at the shop, Peter seemed more interested in telling me about his other life as an Elvis impersonator rather than his party shop. I humoured him, took the leaflets and went.
Once I had finished I called him to follow up and make sure he was happy. He confirmed that indeed he was and said “I have a referral for you”. I thought it odd that an Elvis impersonator who owned a shabby looking party shop, would be familiar with such highbrow marketing terminology as “a referral” but actually, this fella was really giving me a lesson about assumptions. He went on to say that he met a chap at “BNI” who had asked if anyone could recommend someone reliable to deliver leaflets in Cambridge. I thought it all sounded a bit fishy, but I went along with it and was introduced to a gentleman called Tim Gale.
Tim wanted 2,000 leaflets delivered every week to promote his furniture care business. This doesn’t seem much now, however at the time it was my first decent piece of business.
During our conversation, Tim also alluded to “BNI.” I suspected this was some sort of marketing ploy. No doubt an “American” idea that would be very annoying and relentless in their determination to make me join. However, I now had three clients, two of which were members of this business networking group called BNI. I thought I had better go along, if only to show support to my new clients, Peter and Tim. I decided to have a stack of reasons prepared as to why I couldn’t join, so when they went in for the hard sell, I’d be ready to repel them.
I duly turned up on my bike. Like I say, I was pretty skint at the time and couldn’t afford a car. In order to not give anything away, I hid my bike a few streets away. One and a half hours later I was the owner of a £400 car. A member of the group was a car dealer and he helped me find a car I could afford. A couple of weeks later I had enough business from the group to pay for my membership and so I joined.
I still remember that split second decision. I very nearly didn’t deliver that last leaflet through that last letterbox on that last street, but I couldn’t be happier that I did. Joining BNI has helped me go from reluctantly delivering leaflets, in order to make money while I looked for a ‘proper job’, to making a firm commitment to create a thriving business I could be proud of.
I now have up to 17 staff at any one time and my business is going from strength to strength. I am still a member of BNI Granta in Cambridge and I am proud to have been asked to help launch a new BNI group within my region.
LDS Leaflet Distribution Specialists