How often have you asked a friend to find you a ‘good connection’ in a new country or city to establish your business or commercial activity?
How often have you wished that you had a choice of contacts without an obligation?
And how often have you been unsure of the quality and integrity of the new contact?
Making connection with the right people to conduct honest business has never been more important than it is today.
‘Business Network International’ (BNI) is a global organisation that not only connects people across the continents to conduct business but also brings credibility to relationships. Since its establishment in 1984 in California, it has grown to become a veritable platform for interaction by more than 220,000 members in over 8000 Chapters all over the world. In 2016, referrals of its members generated about US$ 11.2 billion.
Businesses in India and New Zealand keen on doing business would find this Organisation an effective channel and the government and its agencies would do well to recognise it as an important partner in boosting bilateral trade and commerce.
Mahesh (‘Mac’) Srinivasan, National Director for India and President, Asia Pacific of BNI said that the ‘Membership Model’ brings a high degree of confidence, enabling people to engage in business and foster professional standards of service with ease.
“Relationships are built under the BNI umbrella with a sense of responsibility. It provides a positive, supportive and structured environment for development and exchange of quality business referrals. It does so by helping members build personal relationships with scores of other qualified business professionals,” he told Indian Newslink during his recent visit to New Zealand.
Born, raised and educated in Bengaluru (Bangalore), he brings to his BNI role decades of experience in business consultancy, advocacy of good management principles and entrepreneurial skills. A master in referrals, he is the Founding Partner of the Referral Institute in South India and Founding Partner of BNI in Bangalore.
Twelve years of experience in the IT industry in Chicago, USA, followed by ten years of association as Country Manager for an American multinational in India equipped him well to manage referrals.
The world is a stage and businesses and people are like dots; connecting them would accrue benefits for all, he thought.
It was little surprise therefore that he was among the founding members of the Bengaluru Chapter of BNI in 2007.
He took charge as National Director of the Organisation in January 2016 and since then, BNI membership has recorded 41% growth, with a network of more than 15400 members in 330 Chapters, accounting for about 16,000 members and entrepreneurs.
These Chapters generated 770,974 referrals, generating RS 5005 Crores (about $1.1 billion) in closed business.
“Our Chapter model has proved to be extremely beneficial to members. There is no conflict of interest within a Chapter as membership is restricted to one per industry. Multiple Chapters can exist in a city, allowing for progress for all. Membership to BNI is like having dozens of people working for you- all the other members carry several copies of your business cards and present them to people recommending your company and its services. This networking has been working very well,” Mr Srinivasan said.
National Director Graham Southwell established the Organisation in 1999, “since networking is the key to create opportunities and growing leaner and smarter organisations, especially in challenging times.
His philosophy of building relationships and working collaboratively drives both his business and personal life.
“Technology plays an increasing role in creating relationships and enabling networking. Intelligent use of online networks will grow businesses and provide opportunities for increased sales and cost savings as a result,” he said.
Prior to arriving in New Zealand in 1999, he worked as a registered valuer for 15 years with London firms including Kemsley, Whitley & Ferris, Matthews Goodman & Postlethwaite, Debenham, Tewson & Chinncok, before working for CB Richard Ellis in Auckland.
“As a business community, BNI helps create business opportunities through a structured system of referrals and reciprocity, based on trust and giving. Business owners from all types of industries (only one trade representative per group) meet weekly. They build sustainable relationships with other businesses, develop new networks and take BNI’s underlying philosophy of ‘Givers Gain’ to grow their businesses,” Mr Southwell said.
Hospice New Zealand
Last month, Hospice New Zealand announced that its ten-year association with BNI has helped raise thus far $1.5 million, ensuring care remains free for people living life-limiting conditions.
Hospice NZ Chief Executive Mary Schumacher attributed the success of the partnership to the synergy between the two organisations and their shared values around personal connections and developing relationships based on trust.
“Hospice is about supporting people and their families and whanau in the community, and BNI’s unique approach to business is Givers Gain; growing successful businesses within those same communities they have a ‘give’ rather than ‘take’ approach,” she said.
For more information about BNI, please call (09) 8171185.
- Mahesh (Mac) Srinivasan
- Graham Southwell