Home » Where to network and why?

Where to network and why?

by Richard Foulkes

Should I have more than one network?

  • The answer is, YES absolutely!


WHY should you have more than one kind of network?

  • To expand your contact spheres so that you can bring more visitors, referrals and ultimately more business to your BNI chapter and fellow members
  • The better each member of your chapter does, the better the overall results for all members

The BNI GAINs sheet asks you to list your networks. What are the different types of networks?

  1. Casual contact networks
  • Business associations like Chamber of Commerce, Local Business Associations, EMA
  • Broad range of businesses, no exclusivity, and casual get together activities lacking in formal structure. Weaker, broader networking, mostly accidental referrals
  • No accountability
  • Not primarily designed to generate referrals
  1. Strong contact networks
  • Referral network groups like BNI
  • Exclusivity
  • Structured, formal agenda, very regular meetings
  • Designed to generate intentional referrals
  • Strong accountability
  • Long lasting connections
  1. Knowledge networks (professional organisations)
  • Professional Institutes or Associations (of Accountants/Architects/MTA/Sign writers/Midwives etc)
  • Professional information is shared between members
  • Conferences, occasional meetings and online forums
  • Not designed to generate referrals
  1. Sporting/social associations
  • Clubs and associations that are non-business oriented like Rotary, Lions, PTA’s, Rugby Clubs etc.
  • Meetings/activities based around club/association activities
  • Not designed to generate business referrals

Which type and how many networks should I focus on?

  • One strong contact network like BNI and at least one from each of the other types
  • In strong or close contact groups the gold is in establishing referral partnerships through hubs to gain very valuable external referrals. If you are splitting your loyalties across hubs in more than one close contact group, why would those other members want to be in partnership with you, knowing you will have half as many referrals to share with them due to your other commitments
  • For maximum business, get involved beyond mere membership

How much time should I spend networking?

  • Effective networking is proven to be the most cost effective way to gain new business
  • Expect at least 6 months to establish credibility/trust (C) and visibility (V) in each network you belong to
  • Referrals will increase every year you invest time in your network
  • The average a good networker spends to good effect is 6.5 hours per week with a maximum of 8 hours per week
  • A single referral can return your investment in time many times over


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