There are many ways to network. As a business owner, there are (amongst other things) trade shows, conferences and mix and mingle events to attend. And you can also connect with contacts online through professional sites like LinkedIn.
Another option is to join a professional association or referral networking group, like BNI, to build and maintain professional relationships. Our Kevin Maynard has been a member of a BNI chapter for the last 12 years. Ask him, and he is happy to talk about the value of becoming a member and the benefits of referral marketing. If you have already taken that plunge, he is also happy to tell you about the value of being on your chapter’s leadership team — something he has taken on more than once.
Chapters don’t run themselves. And being on the leadership team of your BNI chapter (or other professional networking association) means more than just taking on extra responsibilities and additional work. It benefits your business, your chapter and your personal growth.
Business, chapter and personal growth
1) Boost your profile. By being more than just a member, you give both your business and your personal profile a boost. Guests tend to gravitate towards the people doing most of the talking at meetings and member referrals tend to rise as a result of increased trust in you.
2) Bring about change. As a member of the leadership team, you become a driving force in the direction and overall tone of your chapter. If you feel a process isn’t working, your vision is what guides change. And because we all have our own inherent biases, that change will most likely be tailored to best meet your personal and professional needs.
3) Gain valuable skills. As a member of the leadership team, your mindset quickly changes from “how is my being here good for my business?” to “how is my being here good for the chapter?” As entrepreneurs (which many—but not all—BNI members are), there are few opportunities to take on a leadership role in your professional life. Conflict resolution skills and management abilities are just two of the many valuable leadership skills to be gained as a member of the leadership team — skills that can be applied beyond your chapter and into your business, your community and your life in general.
Remember that while the end goal of networking is to get referrals and find new business, you won’t effectively succeed in either if that is your sole mindset. The real goal of networking is to build relationships. By being on your BNI chapter’s leadership team, you are taking great strides towards building those relationships with the other members.