Thursday, October 7, 2010

BNI (Business Network International)


I provide Location Advice to owners and occupants of industrial buildings in Southern California. This year I am honored to serve as the President of the Champions chapter of SoCal BNI. Last Friday night, the Champions chapter of SoCal BNI attended the first annual gala, "An Evening Among the Stars" October 1, 2010 in Irvine California. In attendance were approximately 650 representatives from 26 chapters spanning Southern California. The founder and CEO of BNI, Dr. Ivan Misner attended as well along with his lovely wife, Elisabeth and Bill and Sue Mills. The evening was a beautiful celebration of the organization's 25th year anniversary! Dr. Misner delivered the welcome address and explained that the key to BNI's success is the culture in which we operate. The motto of "givers gain" is universally known and the way in which our culture has allowed such exponential growth to include over 6500 chapters in 44 countries. Dr. Misner noted that an organization which possesses culture without strategy has a better chance of survival than an organization with a strategy with no culture. BNI is fortunate to have both...a solid culture of "givers gain" AND a well thought out strategy of referral based business. At the chapter level we have a shared attitude and vision that transcends cultural barriers and allows us to "row together" toward success.

SoCal BNI's executive director, Jenni Nering was the evening's emcee and did a brilliant job. The evening was fast paced, exciting, and fun-filled! Dan Fowler's footprints were noticed throughout the evening with the exceptionally produced video montage and energy.

I was privileged to receive three awards for the "star" of our chapter, the greatest number of one-to-one meetings, and the greatest number of referrals given in a BNI year. Each call to the stage was highlighted by a photo with Dr. Misner.

Greatest Number of one-to-one meetings:

During our photo op, Dr. Misner mentioned to me that the one-to-one meetings were once called "one-on-one" meetings. The name change occurred during the international expansion and the term "one-on-one" was discovered to have a slightly different meaning...

Greatest Number of Referrals given:

During this photo op, Dr. Misner mused "isn't that interesting that the person with the most one-to-one meetings was also the person with the most referrals given." I responded that there was some truth in my case. My category, commercial real estate, is not widely represented in SoCal BNI. My industry is notorious for shunning networking groups. I am contrarian in my view of networking and believe that it is a vital part of a successful marketing strategy. As a result of the lack of CRE brokers and passion for networking, I have the latitude to network with BNI members within and outside the Champion's chapter. When I joined BNI in 2009, I sought to meet as many people as my time would allow...thus I requested and was granted many one-to-one meetings. As my contacts increased, my "what I am looking for" inventory increased. As a broker, matching peg A with slot B is in my DNA. I used the "broker DNA" and my 26 years of relationships in many industries to match the peg A (BNI member's "what I am looking for") with the slot Bs of the relationships. This resulted in the volume of referrals that I was able to generate. As the number of referrals started to increase week to week and the plastic trophies started to find their way to my spot at the breakfast table, my competitive nature propelled me to seek more referral opportunities. My "giving" has "gained" me far more that plastic trophies and weekly recognition, however. I have helped grow the businesses of my peers and this is truly rewarding!

With my new role as president of the Champions, I am committed to continue the givers gain philosophy and set a positive example for all of our members. The Champions chapter is fortunate. We have a tremendous wealth of talent and a very committed leadership team including Greg Beck as Vice President and Rosanne Grigsby as Secretary Treasurer. I look forward to a VERY successful year and many awards for the chapter at next year's gala!