It all started exactly a year ago when I hopped into the car at 5:30 in the morning to attend a BNI breakfast (Business Network International) in Pukekoe. A month before we had spoken to a very successful tradesman in Auckland who explained that 80% of the work he gets is from the BNI group that he attends.
To briefly explain the BNI concept, it is a group in your area that you become a member of, for a yearly cost, an organized system of receiving and passing on referrals.
So we found our nearest one – 1 hour away!!! The Pukekoe BNI breakfast was excellent but we had two big problems…
1. Would we make it to Pukekoe each week at 7:00am?
2. How would we pass referrals on when the potential customers we meet are in Thames?
The next step was to find out about starting a BNI group in Thames. The BNI association was definitely in support of this and all I needed to do was to get 10 – 15 businesses to come along to an introductory session. Well, that would be easy… I thought… After calling 21 businesses I had a grand total of 1 business that was quite interested in the BNI concept and would be willing to come.
We did not stop there! Clive and I then thought why not just invite businesses in the area to meet for a coffee and a muffin at 7:00 AM and exchange business cards and start a referral group. We nervously sent our first mail campaign to whatever businesses in our area we were able to email and thus, the birth of the THAMES BUSINESS NETWORK.
It has definitely grown from there and far exceeded our expectations. Referrals are a small by product. The greatest benefit has been the platform for small businesses to learn from each other and try new ideas such as opening a Facebook page and posting on Facebook, sending out email campaigns and so much more.
As we watch the growth of this business network, we begin to explore new ideas of improving and growing our own business and shared it with our fellow businesses – it is truly an exciting journey. One which I would like to keep you posted on.
Make sure you visit the Thames business network facebook page and register to know when the next business breakfast is.