Real Life Success Stories

Start Up To Success

For ten years I worked for the same gas and electricity company and if I’m honest, I was never completely happy.  So just over six months ago I decided that it was time to take a chance and I set up Bright Utilities. My initial plan was to give myself eight months and if it didn’t work out I’d find another job.  

        
At around the same time my wife’s birthday was coming up and I went to buy her a gift from a jewellery shop a friend of mine owns. We got talking and I mentioned that I had decided to set up on my own and if he had any gas or electricity needs to let me know.  He asked if I had ever tried networking and began telling me about a networking group he belongs to called BNI. I was a bit dubious as my previous networking experiences hadn’t been great. They had all involved walking into a room full of people selling at you and shouting to be heard. Coincidently, during a conversation with another friend of mine the following day, networking and BNI was mentioned again. I thought it was probably time to do some investigating! I went on Facebook to enquire and someone ended up inviting me to attend a local BNI meeting, so I went along.


I walked into the meeting and was instantly blown away – the response was nothing like the previous networking events I’d been a part of. Everyone was interested in me and my business, no one tried to sell me anything – they actually listened to what I had to say. This was a completely different experience.


I wanted to join. However other than a laptop, BNI would be the biggest cost to my business so far. Not only that, but I was nervous about generating referrals for fellow members. What if I couldn’t get any? It was fair to say that the pros definitely outweighed the cons, so I put my concerns behind me, took a leap and joined.


BNI has given my business the push it needed to succeed in those first crucial months. It is responsible for over 50% of my business and I regularly receive two or three referrals a week.  I needn’t have worried about gathering referrals, as I’m always recommending fellow members to my clients.


Without BNI my business would not be as profitable or as focused as it is today. The support and advice I receive from my chapter is second to none. I have nothing but gratitude and respect for my colleagues within BNI Network Central and other BNI members I meet along my personal journey to success. It’s fair to say that if it wasn’t for BNI, I would definitely be reconsidering my business.


Neil Rogan
Bright Utilities
www.bright-utilities.co.uk
Network Central BNI (Leeds)
Yorkshire West

Help Me BNI!
In 2005 BNI was introduced to me by my then employers, a firm of solicitors in Glasgow.  I kept harping onto them about how they needed to develop their marketing strategy and I think they’d had enough of me, so they sent me along to a local BNI group in Glasgow (Alba).  I spent many years thereafter at Alba as an employed solicitor. However in 2009 my employers decided that BNI was too expensive; the recession was to blame apparently.  I saw this as one of the final straws and plotted my departure from the firm.

On 1st September 2010, being married, having 4 young children, a mortgage and 2 or 3 clients in the cabinet, I started my own company, Complete Clarity Solicitors Limited.  At this point I also re-joined BNI, as part of Dynamo Chapter.  Their previous lawyer had quite literally just left as he apparently could not cope with the early starts.  Having risked it all by giving up a very good job, I remember my first 60 seconds that week included a plea to “just please help me Dynamo!”

And help me they did, with my most memorable referral bringing in a steady £4-6,000 a month! I now have 14 members of staff, two offices across Glasgow and a turnover last year of £570,000 of which £92,000 came through BNI. One of my members of staff is also now a member at BNI TGI in Edinburgh.

Today I remain a member of Dynamo having assisted the growth of the chapter to now 26 very strong members. 
Being a BNI Member is what you make of it and it seems to be going very well for me.
Thank you BNI.

Billy Smith
Complete Clarity Solicitors
www.completeclaritysolicitors.com
Dynamo BNI (Glasgow)
Glasgow & South Lanarkshire
Broadening My Horizons with BNI

In October 2014 I received a letter inviting me to attend a meeting of like-minded local businesses that generate trade for each other. I was used to leafleting and PPC campaigns as a primary source of marketing, so networking of this kind was a completely new concept to me. At the time my business had been established for two years and was just at the point of gaining a solid customer base, so I accepted the invite to investigate further. I was immediately impressed with the friendly welcome I received and the interest others showed in my business. In order to become familiar with the format, I was invited back and quickly realised that a lot of the members had great services and skills to offer my business. I made my mind up to join and it wasn't long before I was passing and receiving referrals.

I remember some of the trades in the room wondering how a creative business like mine could gel with more standard trades. At the time my business was heavily music focused and it didn't take me long to realise I was not presenting to a room full of musicians every morning. Once I had fully grasped the BNI format and got to know the businesses in the room, I believed I could benefit from revising my services to include corporate products. The idea for video blogging was born and my experience as a video and music producer put me in the perfect place to be able to create unique HD videos for businesses. I announced these new services during my first feature presentation and the referrals quickly started flowing.  It became apparent that I had found a fantastic, modern and unique way to help peoples businesses. Suddenly through BNI, I had created a whole new market audience to sell my skills to.

Putting referrals aside for a minute, what I find most helpful about my BNI experience is the constant support I receive from a team of skilled individuals from different trades. I know that no matter what situation I am in as a business or individual, I can call on somebody from my chapter, or a recommendation from another chapter to quickly get the best advice and service to see the situation through. Suddenly, anything feels possible and I'm not afraid to take giant leaps forward for my business and as an individual.

After just 12 months as a member, I can safely say that the BNI is an integral part of my business and I always enjoy my weekly meetings with a bunch of like-minded businesses that are not only my colleagues, but now my friends. My BNI experience so far has gone above and beyond my expectations and I'm not hesitating to progress into another year.

Kevin Thorpe

Managing Director

Big Jam Studios

Sittingbourne BNI

Kent

Thanks BNI…

I started my business in May 2000 and joined BNI almost a year later in April 2001.  If I am being honest, I floundered in those first 11 months; sales were generated primarily via telemarketing, which I found pretty soul destroying.  I suppose you could say BNI saved me and my business, as I was becoming pretty disillusioned. I went into business to do a great job AND earn lots of money. I had nailed the former, however not the latter.
It was a client who invited me to my first BNI business networking group, or as he put it, “come networking with me at 7am”.  I had never even heard of networking and to me 7am seemed like a ridiculous time to meet! Anyway, I went to the meeting and was told it was a BNI core group that was gearing up for launch.

I was reluctant to join at first, primarily due to the fact I had no money, and I mean no money. How bad was it? I was living off several credit cards and juggling balances, a crazy situation really, so when I was asked for my 16 digit number, I had no idea which one to put down. I didn’t join that week, however I saw the potential BNI could offer to my business. I returned the next week armed with a credit card with just enough reserve on it to pay the fees.  I was now a BNI member.

I was 25 when I first joined and to me, all the other members seemed a lot more mature and competent. To say I was intimidated is an understatement. Addressing the group about my business in my first 60 seconds was terrible. I hid behind a sheet of A4 and shook like a leaf. My first 10 minutes (which I tried desperately to avoid) was just as terrible.  I was a very nervous public speaker, however fourteen years later and thanks to BNI I think I’m now pretty good. Put it this way, I run BNI trainings with over 100 people in the audience and have been Chapter Director on numerous occasions.  What a great by-product of my membership.  Thanks BNI.

I have also met some great people who have become friends. It’s helped me mix with a variety of people at all different business levels. I’m from a working class background and I didn’t know business people growing up, I knew people who worked in factories, steel works and the mines. In the first few weeks it was strange to see people in suits, some driving BMW’s and Jaguars, all this was new to me. BNI is a ‘good leveller’; a solicitor who studied at the best university in the country, is a peer and will treat you as such.  I now mix in different circles. Why is this important? Well it opens doors. Doors that would have always been closed to me. Thanks BNI.

Then you look at the team here at Effective Group.  We have nine team members, seven of which I met due to BNI.  Its little things like that you forget, but BNI has allowed me to build a fantastic, stable team. Thanks BNI.

And then there’s the money.  When I joined BNI I was living off credit cards and running my business from an attic in my Mum and Dad’s house.  I have just had a referral to offer our SEO services to 70 franchisees across the country, which is a great potential earner. We now have a team of nine, two offices and turnover well into six figures per year, 80% of which is due to BNI.

Thanks BNI.

 

Paul Campbell

Effective Group

www.effective-group.com

Pioneers BNI (Leeds)

Yorkshire West

Trying Something a Little Different

My company, RTFJ, specialises in handmade bespoke jewellery. I am still a relatively new business, and being a one man band makes BNI’s weekly networking meetings a great advantage for me.

Before joining BNI I was not good at public speaking, however standing up each week for 60 seconds and talking about my business has allowed me to gather new techniques, which help me get noticed. I’ve also found that adding a bit of humour to my presentations acts as a memory anchor, so I try and bring as much entertainment as I can.

My most memorable presentation so far was when I tried to express the value I believe my products offer. I have focused on the wedding market for a while now, and I get many brides come to me who are reluctant to spend £1000 on a wedding band, but yet admit to spending the same or even more on a wedding dress. During my presentation I tried to put the price of both a wedding band and wedding dress into perspective. I had only 60 seconds to put my point across, so I decided to be creative and I went dressed up in a big white wedding dress. I then went on to emphasise that a £1000 ring, if worn for life, would cost only £0.002 per hour, whilst the wedding dress would cost a staggering £100 per hour, therefore by the time the wedding dress had been used the ring would have only cost 2p. 

My presentation received a lot of laughs as no one was expecting me to stroll out in a strapless white wedding dress, especially at 7 in the morning! This particular presentation definitely had the desired effect, as people are still talking about it now! I wouldn’t have been able to do that if I hadn’t gained confidence through presenting at my BNI meetings.
I find my BNI membership absolutely priceless, the skills and knowledge I have gained has been amazing.

With such a variety of business expertise in the room, I feel confident that my fellow members will help with any issues or queries I may have. The group provides a brilliant support network of local businesses, which offers me a permanent work force and I receive a vast amount of advice from members who run a variety of businesses. 
I am a one man band so being around 30+ like-minded professionals on a weekly basis has helped my enormously, being part of BNI is not all about increasing business and sales, it has also helped me as a person.

Overall BNI has provided me not only with brilliant business (I receive around 10% of my business from BNI), but also an excellent support group that provide me with advice which is priceless.   
 

Richard Talman
Business Owner
RTFJ
www.rtfj.co.uk

Heart of Sussex,

Haywards Heath, Sussex

Fashion Forward with BNI

I had never considered networking let alone attempted it, then one day a gentleman came into the garage that my husband and I own and invited me to attend the launch of a new business networking meeting.  At the time I declined, however, a while later curiosity got the better of me and I ended up joining BNI Horizon Chapter in Avon and Monmouth. That was eleven years ago and now around thirty percent of my overall business comes from BNI.

BNI has done many things for me; it has helped me become more professional, and made me a business women in my own right. I am no longer just ‘my husband’s wife’! Most importantly, being part of a business networking organisation, such as BNI, has shown me that there is a huge support network behind you every step of the way. Nothing proves this more than the amount of help and generosity myself and my daughter received not too long ago from fellow BNI Members.

My daughter Gemma studied Fashion at Somerset College of Arts and Technology and the reason she chose that particular college was due to the third year fashion show. The college pulled out of organising the show, so it was left up to the students to put it together. With such a huge task ahead of them, Gemma came to me not knowing where to start. I told her not to panic and I would see what I could do; after all I’m surrounded by a huge variety of business people every week!
I got straight on the phone to my BNI contacts in the hope of finding a potential venue and before I knew it word quickly spread. BNI members throughout Avon & Monmouth were contacting me willing to help.  With all proceeds being donated to Penny Brohn Cancer Care, items given by or through member contacts were amazing. The donations included; the venue (The Bottle Yard, Bristol), lighting & photography (provided by Peter de Halle) and project management (provided by Kim Jones), to name a few. With the help of a member, we even managed to get hold of some Portaloos the week before Glastonbury!

The Fearless Fashion Event was a fantastic success. A total of 200 people attended and we managed to raise £1,800 from the event. Among the generously donated auction items were: an Osprey handbag, Fleur of England Lingerie and a helicopter ride. Guests were treated to traditional goodie bags and watched as models, supported by 50 backstage assistants, flaunted a range of high fashion items made especially for the event.
Many of the BNI members who helped attended the event, which also doubled as a great networking opportunity. No one asked for anything in return, however in the spirit of ‘Givers Gain’ I have referred many of the members on.

Although technically I’m the BNI member, I have always been supported by my husband and family in my membership and they certainly understand BNI. As a family, we remain humbled by the generosity that came from members and their contacts. Gemma has now graduated and feels ready to take on the fashion industry. It also helps that I have a host of members who will happily share some of their advice and wisdom to help her on her way.

BNI members have helped give these students the career start they needed, which I’m sure will turn out to be the ultimate Givers Gain. A big thank you to BNI members throughout Avon & Monmouth, who turned a near miss into a great success!

See how it all came together here

Alice Cox
Kingston Garage
www.kingstongarage.co.uk
BNI Horizon (Yatton)
Avon & Monmouth

New Ventures with BNI

After completing a PhD at Kent University in 2010, I made the move from lecturing to writing as it was the part of my studies that I had enjoyed the most. I started work for a PR agency, dealing largely with dental/medical clients and learning about different aspects of marketing.

Unfortunately, a full time job was too hard for me physically – I was born with Cystic Fibrosis (a genetic condition that clogs the lungs and digestive system with thick, sticky mucus, leading to constant and increasingly severe chest infections). I was having to keep much longer hours in order to fit in my treatment regime and was soon hospitalised.
I realised that 9-5 work was going to be impossible for me and so decided to take the plunge and become a freelance writer. I found work with a local magazine and was invited to a BNI meeting by Terry Roffey of Brook Security, whom I had interviewed for an article.

I live in Canterbury and the chapter I was invited to was Pioneer in Maidstone, so I worried that travelling that far, that early in the morning would make me ill. I was also concerned about the cost of the investment because, being a ‘one man band’, my finances were pretty tight. My intention  was to pop along, introduce myself and then forget all about it.

However, when I went to the meeting I felt so welcome and got on so well with the other members that I resolved to try and make it work. I made back my first year’s membership in six weeks and I haven’t looked back.

I now get approximately 70% of my writing work through BNI, but for me membership has meant so much more, it has introduced to some wonderful and supportive friends, which is important when you work alone. I have also improved my health considerably! It sounds odd, but I met a health coach (Matt Ireland), who has helped me to hone my nutrition and exercise to best suit my condition, and I also met a Reliv distributor, who suggested I take products intended to boost the immune system. I’m proud to say that, since joining BNI, I haven’t been taken into hospital!

For me, the most exciting thing about BNI has been the new doors it has opened. A few months after joining I was asked to become an Ambassador, which has been an absolutely fantastic experience. I have served as Events Co-ordinator, Membership Co-ordinator and I am now a Director Consultant.

Through my attendance at meetings I have rediscovered the love of public speaking that I had as a lecturer and am taking steps towards pursuing motivational speaking as part of my career. Most importantly, it was through a BNI contact that I met my publisher and have recently produced a personal development guide called Step Back Move Forward: how changing your perspective can change your life, which is available on Amazon. The book charts my own story, including my time in BNI, and uses my personal experiences to create a system that will help others to overcome personal challenges.

I have achieved, learned and gained so much over the past 16 months that I sometimes can’t quite believe it’s all real, but I know one thing: I owe it all to the man who took the time to invite me to my first BNI meeting!

Liz Norton

Freelance Writer/Journalist

Norton PR

Pioneer Maidstone BNI, Kent

www.nortonpr.co.uk

My book Step Back, Move Forward is now available on Amazon

The Power of BNI

I’ve been a member of BNI in South Wales for around seven years. I am a trade printer that specialises in paperback books and colour magazines, so publishers and self-publishers are my target market. When I first joined BNI my motivation was quite simple, it was to generate more business. At that stage I had run a successful business for 8 years and had never done any networking before.

It took me a while to truly understand the power of BNI, I spent my first year bringing in four referrals a week for the same digital printer. I didn’t understand that in order for the other members to pass me business, I had to make the effort to find business for them. When I did, the amount of business I generated was amazing and now at least 50 percent of my business comes from BNI.

The decision to join was a tough one. I could see the business potential, but couldn't face the presentation each week. My first meeting was a very traumatic experience. Having to stand for 60 seconds in order to present my business to the group was something I was uncomfortable with. It was challenging to just say my name, let alone express what type of business I was looking for, so much so that I almost left the room. I took the step and suffered the torment of panic and nerves over the first few weeks. I soon learnt to always prepare and eventually started to become comfortable presenting my 60 seconds. I was then asked to present ten minutes about my business – it felt like the first meeting all over again. Even though it was in front of a group of my now friends, it was still terrifying, but I got through it and step by step my confidence and presentation skills grew. I eventually became a Director Consultant, which called for me to present regularly to the chapters I support, as well as delivering various skills workshops.

It was this that led one of our members and a colleague, Rob Warlow, to suggest I attend the Professional Speaking Association in Wales (PSA). Rob had seen me train a few times and enjoyed the sessions, he felt I would meet some great contacts and have the opportunity to learn how to speak better. I thought why not, went along and joined.
As a new member, I was encouraged to enter the PSA Speaker Factor, which is a competition where you present a five minute talk on any subject. The initial talk was in front of 20 people, so I gave it a go. I was surprised to win and found myself heading up to Reading to compete in the semi-finals at the National Conference against 10 other regional winners.  This was a bigger step in front of 50 people. The speakers were all amazing and I was shocked to hear I had got through to the final the following day.
I was speaking on the main stage in front of 250 professional speakers, which was my biggest crowd yet. Later that evening it was my name in the winners’ envelope, all a bit of a whirl. When accepting my award I was asked if I wanted to say a few words and I politely declined (I hadn’t prepared!). As the winner, I was offered a half an hour slot as a keynote speaker at next year’s conference, which I’m preparing for already!

It all started from that terrifying 60 second presentation at my first BNI meeting, which provided me with many small steps, pushing me further out of my comfort zone each time. Who knows where this new skill will lead, but BNI has given me the opportunity to develop further personally than I would have thought possible.

Andy Rogers

Xpedient Print Services

www.xpedientprint.co.uk

Dylan BNI, South Wales

BNI Was A Pleasant Surprise

Seven years ago I was invited to a networking group by a printer who I’d hired to print flyers for my painting and decorating business. It was a difficult time and the flyers didn’t seem to be working. Repeat jobs are a rarity in my line of work and I was running out of contacts, so needless to say I was willing to go along to this ‘BNI’ group.
I turned up to the visitor day and walked into a room filled with 100 people. It didn’t take me long to realise that I was the only one in work overalls. Instantly feeling out of place, I began to regret my decision; this type of thing was definitely not for me.

I was planning to make a swift exit when I spotted the printer who invited me. He soon had me cornered and began informing me that I would be addressing the whole room for 60 seconds. Apparently, I’d use this time to educate the room on my business, which would hopefully lead to future referrals. Feeling even more terrified, I sucked it up and addressed the room. When it was all over I took a sigh of relief and decided to resume my exit strategy, however something unexpected happened. People in the room were interested in passing me business.

I ended up receiving fifteen referrals on that first meeting, nine of which turned into paid work. I took the plunge and signed up then and there to TGI BNI in Edinburgh.
BNI now brings in around sixty percent of my overall business and my best referral to date has been decorating Arbor Lodge in Scotland, which ended up being a thirteen week job. If I could go back to that BNI visitor day, I would tell myself to be more open minded. Not all members receive success as quickly as I did; certain professions take longer than others.  I strongly believe that the better your fellow members get to know you and your business, the more referrals come your way.

 

Darrel Young

Darrel Young Painting and Decorating

http://darrelyoung.co.uk/

TGI BNI, Edinburgh

BNI Changes Lives

At Family Wise Ltd, our primary goal is to find people & change lives. As the company Managing Director, I have always been interested in family history and I took up genealogy professionally while training to be a teacher back in 2002. The business was founded in 2012 and initially, I ran Family Wise part time while continuing my ‘day job’ as a school teacher. However I finally took the plunge to run the business full time in 2013. We are a unique business and building awareness is key to our BNI membership. The decision to join a BNI business networking group two years ago has not just helped my business - it has helped to transform it! Many of my connections have come from my Chapter and I now work with a team of researchers all around the world. A large part of my business is Heir Hunting, although we work on many other tracing cases, some which turn out to be life changing. One story in particular occurred due to a chance meeting at a BNI group.

When visiting another BNI chapter in Bristol, I sat next to a car and van dealer called Nick. We went through the normal formalities, which included enquiring about each other’s line of work. My opening line is ‘we find people’. Nick seemed almost stunned and went on to explain that he had been looking for his biological mother for over twenty years with no success. I asked him to send over all the information he had managed to uncover over the years, which included a married name for his mother. Due to the dates on the documents, Nick didn’t hold out much hope that his mother would still be alive, however his goal was simply to see a photograph.

We soon got to work and within twenty minutes of receiving Nick’s email, we discovered that his biological mother, Nora, had passed away. However, we also managed to find the name of a second husband, David. After confirming our research with documentary evidence, we wrote to David. Hope started to dwindle as David failed to reply to our letter. Nick happened to be working in David’s area, so he took the plunge and decided to ‘drop in’, introducing himself as my associate. The unscheduled visit paid off and Nick finally saw the photograph of his mother, but better than that, he discovered he had a previously unknown half-sister.
Fuelled with a possible location and a name, we set out to contact Nick’s half-sister. Fortunately her first names hadn’t changed after her adoption (although she had married) and we managed to track her down, writing a letter to test the waters first. On speaking to her, just the day after our letter arrived, she explained that she was her mother’s only child and she was inquisitive as to why we were researching Nora and her family. I delicately broke the news that she had an older half-brother. She was over the moon and we arranged that she would call Nick the following day. Her message to him was that the news was “like winning the lottery, only better”.  Nick and his half-sister met just two days later and are now in regular contact with one another.

If it wasn’t for that BNI meeting and a chance to network and share our businesses with each other, Nick may still be searching. During my 60 seconds that day at Cook Chapter, I mentioned that I had a 100% crack rate. Nick was sure that his case would ruin my streak– it’s fair to say he’s very happy that I succeeded. BNI has helped my business tremendously, not only that, it has helped me to help others and isn’t that what BNI is all about?


Kirsty Gray

Managing Director

Family Wise Ltd

family-wise.co.uk

BNI Parade,

Avon & Monmouth 

Team Work Makes the Dream Work

I have been a member of BNI Sunrise in Birmingham for three years, originally joining to expand my business network in the Midlands. My business, TINKER TAYLOR, produces and distributes inspiring videos for the private, public and third sector, with a strong reputation specifically within the Police sector and NHS.
Last year we were approached by the Scottish Police Federation. They were concerned with the way Police Officers in Scotland were being perceived, due to bad media coverage across other parts of the UK. Working with our client, we designed and produced a high profile campaign called #itswhatwedo. The campaign would consist of three videos and a strategic marketing plan to promote distribution.

The marketing campaign required a number of professionals with various skill sets, which we would look to outsource. For tasks such as this, being part of BNI has been incredibly helpful. Within my group, there are a number of businesses who provide complementary services to us and who sometimes work with the same types of clients.
My team consisted of members from my group who had a vast majority of the expertise I required. Four members from Sunrise assisted me with the distribution of the campaign. I called upon the services of a Graphic Designer (Seventy Three design), Social Media experts (JC Social Media), a Google Banner Ad’s expert (MCG Digital Media) and a Printer (Kinggate Press). There were five of us in total, working to bring this campaign to life.

http://www.itswhatwedo.org.uk/ was a phenomenal success, resulting in our videos reaching and influencing over half the Scottish population, as well as 42 countries across the globe.  The thought provoking videos were shown in Scottish cinemas throughout October to December 2014 and the production won several industry awards, including Gold at the Cream Awards for Best Online Ad.

The support and expertise provided by my fellow BNI members helped me deliver a project, which I would not have dreamed of delivering before I joined. Our unified approach ensured that the job was delivered expertly and efficiently. The opportunity to discuss the project face to face, at each weekly meeting was invaluable, as was the fact that the guys all knew each other enabling them to discuss ideas between themselves, without having to come back to me for every detail.  A top team and one I am confident I will bring together again on another exciting TINKER TAYLOR mission!

Sam Taylor
Creative Director
TINKER TAYLOR

http://tinkertaylor.tv

BNI Sunrise,

Birmingham

@tinkertaylortv - why not follow us?
Better still, sign up for our fun monthly newsletter here.
 

Coming in from the Cold

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.

 

James Neal
Managing Director

LDS Leaflet Distribution Specialists
www.ldscambridge.co.uk

BNI Granta of Cambridge

Suffolk & Cambridge

 

Big Brother’s Best Advice

I retired from the army following 25 years of service and with some help from Her Majesty’s Armed Forces, I decided to retrain. I set up Gearing Locksmiths and started trading immediately. 


At the time my brother was a member of Blaze Chapter in Hitchin, Hertfordshire and recommended BNI, claiming that it had the potential to significantly help my business. I joined in October 2013 and saw the benefits from the very first meeting. With so many members in the room and so many possible customers – through their friends, family and most importantly work contacts, it was hard to see how I could fail.

Within eight weeks I had made back the entire cost of my membership and was getting referrals every week. I advertise elsewhere but BNI consistently brings in a third of my business. I enjoy the BNI meetings enormously and challenge myself every week to help find new business for my fellow members.

As a sole trader, I tend to spend much of my week alone. The interaction with other members at our weekly BNI business networking meetings and individual discussions, which we call 1-1s, gives my week structure, as well as keeping me focused. The training offered by BNI has been invaluable and I enjoy attending on a regular basis, which has helped me stay at the top of the key criteria we use to judge our own performance (traffic lights), since I joined.

In January I was very honoured and flattered to be asked by my BNI business networking group to take over the role as Chapter Director, a role I was not expecting to be asked to undertake so soon. I am looking forward to the challenge and hope to take my group to new heights.
BNI has without a doubt made my company what it is today and the future for Gearing Locksmiths is looking very good indeed.

Matt Gearing
Managing Director
Gearing Locksmiths

www.gearinglocksmiths.co.uk

Blaze BNI, 

Hertfordshire & Bedfordshire
 

 


 

Success for Liam

Attract is a branding agency and we help our clients look and become more interesting and attract more profitable consumers. Whether we, as humans, like to admit it – we all judge books by their cover and this applies to business as well.

As a new business we wanted to increase our contacts so, about 18 months ago, we decided to join our local BNI group, Doncaster Diamonds, to expand our reach. We knew how successful BNI could be and joining has really paid off!

In terms of direct referral to business we have received around £10,000 to £15,000 since joining. But BNI is about more than just the actual “Thank You for the Business”, you receive. Even more importantly, from every referral comes a client and that client becomes a referral partner; they recommend us as well which leads to more work from their contacts. It’s like a chain reaction and in the end it has a doubling effect!

This was exactly how I got to know Jeff Owen, who runs the printing firm Rosehill Press. He worked with Benchmark Recruit, a recruitment and retention consultancy, and when he enquired about whether they’d need more brochures, they asked for a referral, because they wanted to rebrand their identity. With this it all began: Jeff referred me, Benchmark was eager to choose a recommend designer like myself over three or four other branding agencies that didn’t impress them in the first place and finally we clinched the deal. Before we realised it, we won the Gold Transform award in the category “Best Rebrand in Professional Services Sector in the UK” for the rebranding of Benchmark.

I class myself as one of the younger ones in the industry, having just turned 26 and having run Attract for just over two years; to win this award in front of a room full of the industry finest and some of the biggest brands in the UK was an incredible achievement. At the minute due to winning the award, we are riding a spike of interest. Our business has increased due to the great work we provide, but through BNI our name and brand becomes known. Our current members are talking about us as they are being serviced by an award winning branding agency and we are in a very fortunate position right now. Over the coming months we will be trying to take full advantage of the movement resulting from the referral.

In the end you could say that BNI was the great catalyst to get our young business moving forward. Without being a member or knowing Jeff and without the referral opportunity we wouldn’t have known Benchmark and we wouldn’t have won the award.

Liam Swift
Art Director - Attract
www.attract.uk.com

BNI Doncaster Diamonds

Growth for Lotty

I joined the BNI Acclaim group in Leeds in May 2012 with the aim to expand my business network and to gain new business skills. The outcome has exceeded my expectations and in ways I did not envisage.

As a young professional who is passionate about creative media production I made the decision to establish Shot Blast Media, a company providing a fresh and innovative approach to visual media and communication.

As a member of BNI I attend weekly meetings and a host of courses including presentation and referral skills training, all providing opportunities to extend my professional network while arming me with the skills necessary to succeed.

By attending other BNI networking and training events as well as my weekly chapter meeting, I have been able to broaden my network and build relationships with other creative professionals who are in the same trade as me but who specialize in slightly different areas. The quality of the connections that I have made through the greater network of the organisation has enabled me to deliver projects for multi-national clients and I recently collaborated on a project with my fellow BNI members.

In BNI you’re working with trusted business people who have the right skills that you are looking for and who come recommended through the almost peer-review like system. I was confident in my colleagues’ ability to help me because they were part of BNI; I knew I could trust them to deliver what I wanted.  No one I know in BNI just wants to grow their business; they want to help each other to build a better business. Due to BNI I am now able to offer a wider portfolio of services by drawing on the knowledge and expertise of other members.

I am always looking for ways to develop my business skills and BNI continues to boost my personal and professional development. When I joined I thought it would be like other networking groups; turn up, give out some cards, maybe get some good contacts. But it’s much more than that, BNI is not just a place you attend, it’s a system to be used every day in your business. It is like doing a practical MBA and like an MBA once learned the payback keeps growing. It is fantastic to be part of an organisation filled with positive, like-minded people who are all keen to see each other succeed in their individual endeavours.

Lotty Wiltshaw
Director - Shot Blast Media
www.shotblastmedia.co.uk

BNI Acclaim

Support for Geoff

For me, BNI isn’t just about the money, it’s about the support.

I joined BNI four years ago; although I initially didn’t ‘get it’ I soon learned what it was all about and how valuable it was for me and my business. I’m glad that I stuck with it as I wouldn’t be where I am today without BNI.

In April 2011 I was diagnosed with a very rare form of cancer; a malignant melanoma was found in my left eyeball. In the space of just a few short hours my entire existence went through a 180 degree change. I was operated on within 18 days of being diagnosed and I lost some of the peripheral vision in my left eye. I wasn’t allowed to drive or lift anything heavy or even bend over for a month as the pressure would have damaged my eye further. I was off work for a total of six months and I had to take medical leave from BNI whilst I recovered.

My fellow Chapter members were extremely kind during this time and I received plenty of calls from them offering me help and support. When I started working again I found that in my absence my two biggest clients had deserted me. These two clients brought in 90% of my business so without them everything was over.

In my first BNI meeting after my illness I stood up and in my 60 seconds I thanked everyone for their support and told them that sadly this would be my last BNI meeting due to the current state of my business. Everyone was shocked and another member, a business coach, approached me after the meeting and asked for a 1-1 with me. He persuaded me to rethink and to take a shot at rebuilding my business.

I only had a short amount of time to replace the revenue I had lost; it was literally make or break time but with the support of my Chapter, I got to where I needed to be.

I got back into BNI in a big way. I had 1-1’s with as many people as I could and I made sure that I was more specific in the referrals that I asked for and told people exactly what to listen out for when they were looking for business to pass to me. I started to understand the Givers Gain® philosophy and made a really big effort; not just looking for referrals for myself, but finding business for other people as well. My Chapter were incredible in the support and business they gave me.

Within 4 months I had rebuilt about 90% of my business and two months later I had replaced the revenue I had lost during my illness and I was back to my pre-illness turnover levels of around £30,000 a year. All of my new clients had come directly through BNI and with the support of my colleagues in my Chapter and region my business has gone from strength to strength. Remarkably, my business is doing a lot better now than it was before I became ill, my client base has spread and now 98% of my turnover comes from BNI.

If my BNI colleagues hadn’t helped me two years ago, I wouldn’t be here now so I try to help them as much as I can and I’m now one of the top referrers in the Chapter. After all, they gave their time to me when I was ill and in return I gained and now they’re gaining from me. Their support goes on and on; I still have some residual problems caused by the cancer, which has meant some lifestyle and work changes, but all the members I know continue to give me their help, support and understanding.

I joined BNI for the money, but I’ve stayed for the support!

Geoff Townsend
Founder - Urecall Ltd
www.urecall.co.uk

Deeside BNI

Success for Duncan

I don’t do clubs and networking after a long day at work has always been my idea of hell. However, after 9/11 we lost 75% of our clients through redundancy in just 3 months and I knew I had to do something different to win new business. I was invited to a BNI meeting and have been a member of BNI Hammersmith ever since.

Over the past 11 years my company JDi, has earned over a £1.5m from the referrals and advice I have received from BNI members. Indeed, 75% of our largest clients have all come from BNI referrals, including famous brands like Zurich, Lufthansa and Lloyds Bank. I met my Creative Director through BNI, employed staff through BNI, sorted my IT, Insurance, Mortgage and Pension through BNI.

In 2007, I went to New York and met 180 people in 6 days, incorporated, JDi New York, set up premises, our complete supplier network and potential new business, all through BNI. 2 years ago we launched a client in Malaysia and through BNI we were able to introduce them to the country’s biggest tyre manufacturer. They could not believe a small company such as ours could be so well connected globally.

I even met my wife through BNI, so I guess, technically that means I got my three kids from BNI too.

Duncan Richardson
Managing Director - JDi Integrated Marketing Ltd
www.jdi.co.uk

BNI Hammersmith