I don’t think any other business-networking organization has grown this big and fast. How can a business organization with strict rules, mandatory attendance and high discipline grow year on year for over 30 years even without having a marketing budget? And that too in today’s day and age of freedom to work and party? What could be the secret ingredient that’s keeping BNI live and kicking for decades? What is that single biggest hairy reason that made #BNI the most successful independent business networking organization?
We cannot really compare BNI with other social, religious or networking forum since BNI is only and only about business; nothing else. So the closest I could think of, is to compare BNI with the traditional barter system that existed few centuries ago.
Traditional barter system: When you need a product or a service, you go to the market and find a person who has the exact product or service you are looking for, and you exchange it with something in return to fulfill the barter transaction. You take something from someone and give something of near-exact value in return.
BNI barter system: I call this an evolved and a matured barter system. Here, you are passing a referral (personal recommendation) to a fellow member and expect a similar referral from any of the members (might not be the same member). What’s happening in the process is that you are being part of an eco-system rather than building a one-to-one system (that typically happens in the traditional barter system). You might help someone with a referral that’s worth $1000; but in return you have the potential to source a referral for $50,000. Isn’t that amazing? You don’t get the same or near-exact value in return, but a possibility to get an exponential value. Its like a wishing well; you wish for it and you get it.
In a conventional system, you deal with one person for a transaction. If you need more items, you need to deal with those many people. In BNI, you don’t sell to one person, but to the many contacts of that member. This changes the equation completely, from one to many.
In the traditional barter system, you might have to deal with a stranger. At times, you don’t have a choice but to accept the deal (whether you trust the person or not). Where as, BNI is a fully Trust Based System; and that’s precisely why we call it a ‘Value Based System’ or ‘Value Lead Marketing.’
*With over 190,000 members in 7,300 plus chapters worldwide, BNI® is the largest business networking organization in the world. In 2015 alone, BNI® members generated millions of referrals resulting in over $9.3 billion in closed business worldwide. Visit www.bni.com for more info.