Growing Your Business On the Coastside the BNI Way
by Monique Hodgkinson
Are you a business owner looking for more customers or clients in Half Moon Bay or the San Mateo County Coastside?
Building relationships through networking can be a very effective way to grow a small business. Business Network International members all over the world embrace this fact, meeting weekly to help grow their businesses — and those of their fellow BNI members. BNI’s philosophy is “Givers gain,” meaning that when you help others, you will also benefit. As you learn about your fellow BNI members and refer business to them, they will do the same for you.
Founded by Dr. Ivan Misner in 1985 as a weekly meeting with professional colleagues in Southern California, the organization has grown to include over 130,000 members in 5,700 chapters around the globe. Locally, the Half Moon Bay BNI Mavericks chapter has grown to 31 members, while the Coastside chapter in Pacifica boasts 36 members.
Many types of businesses are represented ranging from financial planners to acupuncturists to housepainters — and much more. To eliminate competition for business among members, only one business per category is allowed in any chapter; for example, each chapter can have only one chiropractor. Using a well-established meeting structure, members present their businesses, learn about principals of networking, and pass referrals. Meetings are run professionally and efficiently. Members also meet one-to-one with others outside of the meeting, to deepen their knowledge of each others’ businesses and find new ways to support each other.
Being a member of BNI takes commitment, because attendance is critical. Members must either attend each weekly meeting or send a substitute. Only three absences are allowed in a six-month period. Many people feel that attending a meeting every week takes up too much time, but BNI members know that the hour and a half is part of their ongoing marketing effort. Putting the time in builds relationships that yield results.
Members of BNI will confirm that joining the organization is good for business. They also have many other reasons for being a member, beyond the obvious benefit of the referrals received. These include getting to know other business owners in the community, learning about how others do business, gaining credibility, getting support, and being able to visit other BNI chapters in any location.
Both coastal BNI chapters meet on Thursdays. The Half Moon Bay chapter meets for breakfast at the Half Moon Bay Yacht Club at 8 a.m., while the Coastside chapter meets for lunch at the Sharp Park Restaurant in Pacifica. If you have a business and would like to visit one of these chapters, bring approximately 40 business cards to pass around the room. You can find out more about our local BNI chapters by visiting their websites.
The BNI Mavericks chapter will be having a visitor’s day on Sept. 8, 2011. If you would like to attend, please contact Monique Hodgkinson per the information below.
Monique Hodgkinson has been a member of BNI for over three years, and is the founder of Screen Caffeen. Specializing in Internet strategy development, custom Web design and social media marketing, Screen Caffeen will wake up your online presence. Follow Hodgkinson through Twitter where she is @MoeneekH, visit her Web site at screencaffeen.com, or call her at 650-740-1491.