“Who in here likes to cold call?” asked Mary Alice Griffin in a recent meeting. No hands were raised. “No one,” said Griffin. Cold calling is one of the things that Business Network International (BNI) attempts to eliminate or minimize with their operating model.

There is networking, then there is BNI networking. The difference between the two is selling vs. educating. In BNI, members do not sell to each other; they take the time to learn about one another’s business and what their ideal client is so they can give them qualified referrals. In effect, you are increasing the size of your business’ marketing department by the number of members in your chapter. They operate on the principle that “givers gain.” By giving qualified referrals, you will get the same.

At least one member in the local chapter said 85 percent of his business now comes from BNI.

Chapters limit the number of participants from each professional classification to one, which in effect locks out your competition.

Currently, one chapter has been operating in the Golden Triangle for five years and a second chapter, the BNI All Stars is currently working towards being chartered. The All Stars are holding its Kick-Off meeting at 9 a.m. Thursday at the Holiday Inn Plaza, 3950 I-10 South in Beaumont.

Any business owner interested in growing their business through referrals is welcome at the Kick-Off meeting to find out what it is all about.

Mission Statement: “Our mission is to help members increase their business through a structured, positive and professional “word-of-mouth” program that enables them to develop long-term, meaningful relationships with quality business professionals.”

Those interested in becoming part of the organization will fill out an application and go through an interview process. Not everyone that wants in gets in. There is a strict code of ethics, policies and procedures. They ask if you cannot follow the procedures, please don’t fill out an application.

The organization is suitable to a wide variety of businesses including: Accountants, Architects, Auto Body Shops, Caterers, Chiropractors, Cleaning Services, DJ, Equipment Leasing, Furniture Sales, Contractors, Graphic Artists, Jewelers, Office Supplies, Photographers, Plumbers and many more.

If interested in attending Thursdays Kick-Off, RSVP by visiting www.bnihoustoneast.com. The event will be listed on the Regional calendar. Click on the event itself to register. Cost of attendance is $10 per person. It will be collected at the sign in table. Please pay by cash or check only.

If you have any questions call 409-728-5970.

Bring plenty of business cards to exchange with other professionals.

About Penny LeLeux

Penny has worked at The Record Newspapers since 2006. A member of the editorial staff, she has "done everything but print it." Most frequently she writes entertainment reviews and human interest stories, with a little paranormal thrown in from time to time.She has been a lifelong member of the Orangefield community.