BNI Sri Lanka – A Place for Networking and Business

“We Meet, We Share, We Network and We Earn”

Yes! This is what we do at BNI.

Business Networking International is not a highly bureaucratic community nor a “just for fun” network. It’s a perfect blend of both. At times we are very formal, professional and serious about our businesses and at times we are members of a big funfilled family.

In business it is an elementary lesson that business networking matters a lot. The more connections you build the more business you earn. Especially, for the small medium enterprises (SMEs) that have smaller marketing budgets and limited scope for advertising and PR, “Word of Mouth Marketing” through networking is an unmatchable substitute.

My story with BNI is interesting (hopefully it will be for you as well J). When I got a call from my Business Partner in USA informing me about this networking group in USA, I thought it was just another community for fun and networking. When I attended the first meeting of BNI’s Sri Lankan wing as a visitor, I realized it will be a good platform for me to expand my network and get business through referrals. After almost one year from day one, I can surely say that my first impression about BNI did not go wrong.

The concept of BNI is totally unique and different from other communities and I see four major differentiating factors compared to other networking communities.

Regular Meetings – It’s proven that if you continue doing something for sometime gradually you will master the art. Likewise if you want to grow the business through network, adhoc meetings will not work. The meeting and gathering should take place regularly. You have to learn about other members’ businesses in order to pass referrals and make more business. BNI chapter members meet up regularly on a weekly basis.

Structured Meetings – When it comes to meetings, there is a common myth that taking part in meetings is a waste of time. One of the key for the success in the business and Entrepreneurship life is time. In relation to using the members’ time, BNI meetings never waste time as the meetings are not held on a random basis. The meetings are well structured and adhere to an agenda which is common for any BNI meeting in any given country. The meetings will be controlled by the Chapter President, which allows everyone to focus more on what is necessary to foster the members and their businesses.

No Conflict of Interest – There is no competition among the chapter members. If you take many of the other communities it’s quite normal to see members from the same industry offering similar services develop a competing mentality among them. This is totally unhealthy in terms of unity as well as in terms of making more business. But at BNI it is different. Only one member from one particular industry can represent a chapter. This provides an exclusive way of promoting your business among peers.

Structured Team – Each chapter in BNI has a Leadership Team lead by the Chapter President. The global BNI guidelines clearly define the roles and responsibilities of each and everyone, which allows everyone to operate in a structured manner and work towards the betterment of everyone.

One of the important things that I appreciate about BNI is its strong business focused foundation laid in a friendship oriented basement. Though it’s a business networking community, the relationship among the members will not stop with the meetings itself. It goes beyond that and we get united during various social responsibility activities, outings and trips, networking education sessions and many more. This gives a perfect platform for any Entrepreneurs and corporate individuals to expand their networks undoubtedly.

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Meetings for Business

bni networking week

Networking Events for Awareness

trip bni

Outings for Fun

bni chatiry

Charity for the Betterment of the Society

bni training

Training Sessions for Knowledge Dispersion

When I joined BNI back at the end of 2013 there was only one chapter operating in Sri Lanka. Now there are two exclusive chapters operating (The Pioneer and The Synergy) independently where as the third chapter (The Winners) is in its early incorporation stage. As the Brand Ambassador of BNI in Sri Lanka I am more than happy to see the concept getting more and more awareness with all the members in BNI Lanka benefiting immensely.

If you need further details please call me on 071 303 2422

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Business Network International (BNI): Growing via Referrals

In this post I am going to discuss the importance of Referral Marketing and Networking for a successful growth and expansion of businesses. In the Sri Lankan context, the country has started to upgrade its socio-economic affairs within the country limits as well as outside of its geographical boundaries. This will soon impose stagnation in almost all industries where the competition will be high while the profit making abilities and widening the revenue channels may become difficult. In such situations the businesses should be ready to proactively face the maturity stage. In such circumstances, my personal view is that the Marketing sphere should differ from the status quo. The dynamic features of marketing such as Offline Advertising, Online Marketing, Branding, Loyalty Marketing etc. should be combined with Referral Marketing and Networking.

It has become apparent that a business, being a sole entity, cannot survive anymore in this fiercely competitive business world. For example unlike ever before, most of the value chains have started to shrink and the entities have started to invest more in backward and forward integration while making mutually benefiting agreements with the value chain members. Hence the phenomena of marketing via referrals and networking will be the dominant feature of the forthcoming business era. Though this is a global trend which has not yet thoroughly dominated the Sri Lankan context, this will soon be the trend in Sri Lanka as well. Hence Sri Lankan Entrepreneurs should be ready to welcome such a transformation.

Recently I came to know about one of the world’s largest referrals and networking organizations, Business Network International (BNI). I got to know about this organization through my Business Partner who resides in California, USA. As I have stated initially, I strongly believed that referrals and networking can render immense benefits to businesses in Sri Lanka, especially small scale ones and start-ups. Hence I was interested to know more about it and soon experienced the worthiness of such an organization in the contemporary world. This encouraged me to become a member of its Sri Lankan wing too. Resultantly I am writing this post by connecting the importance of referrals, word-of-mouth and networks and the experiences I collected to this point as a member of BNI, Sri Lanka.    

Word-of-mouth is arguably one of the most effective forms of Marketing, and has an especially significant effect in the B2B market. While referrals are not guaranteed sales, clients who have been directed towards your business through mutual intermediaries are much more likely to become loyal customers. However, in order to conduct proper referral marketing, a company must first establish a network of business contacts. This can be especially hard for new business owners and young entrepreneurs in Sri Lanka who are yet to forge healthy, lasting business relationships, which is where a business networking platform like BNI comes in.

Chapter members hold regular meetings in order to foster stronger business relationships with each other. At these meetings, each member is given a chance to describe their business and the services they offer to the others, and what kind of referrals they are looking for. When a member comes across a potential client looking for a service provided by one of the other members, they recommend the member to the individual and provide them with a referral slip at the next meeting for them to follow up on. This is how the business network uses word of mouth marketing for the mutual benefit of members. These meetings are also useful to culture professional networking skills, and will aid members in making long-term business relationships.

BNI has recently established chapters in Sri Lanka, and is currently looking for new members. This provides valuable networking opportunities for new entrepreneurs and established professionals alike; bringing together high level decision makers that can contribute towards each other’s success. The current roster of members includes recognized businessmen from the fields of Digital Marketing, Media, Hospitality, Textiles and Education, among others, and is looking to expand through the addition of new members. This is assured to facilitate the growth of the local business network by putting several professionals in regular contact with each other.

As its name suggests, BNI is an international network, and has over 150,000 registered members in several countries around the world. This network is accessible to all BNI members through BNI Connect, and is an invaluable resource for business owners looking to upscale their operations globally. I strongly recommend all business professionals, both new and established, from all fields to take advantage of this opportunity and join this growing network.

For more information on how to get involved and expand your network of referrals, contact me on 071 303 2422.