Real Life Success Stories

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

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

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

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. 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

BNI Sunrise, Birmingham

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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

BNI Granta of 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

Blaze BNI, Hitchin, Herts



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

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

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

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

BNI Hammersmith