International Networking Week event in Akko, February 4, 2010.
This event was organized by BNI Israel and MATI Western Galilee Business Development Center, and held at the Palm Beach Hotel in Akko (Acre).
This is the fourth time I have attended events for International Networking week. Here in Israel, they seem to alternate between having large events for the whole country (like last year's conference) and having smaller, local events. This was one of the smaller events, with another, probably larger, event taking place two days earlier in Binyamina. This year's slogan was "Together we will do more", which in Hebrew has a secondary, implied meaning of "we will make more money"...
There were about 60 participants, mainly BNI members from chapters in the north of Israel, some from chapters farther afield, and a few non-members.
The first hour was devoted to open networking, and there were a few stalls where products and services were exhibited.
The event's presenter was Dr. Itai Plaut, BNI Regional Director for the North (and a former member of my own Haifa chapter). He introduced the speakers, and also gave some networking tips. The first speaker, Sam Schwartz (pictured in the photo above), co-National Director of BNI Israel, spoke about using networking to gain customers in a competitive market. Sam is an excellent speaker, and his enthusiasm has inspired many new members.
There followed two presentations on professional issues. First, Aviram Petel spoke about business development and financing, focusing on the financial sources for the various expenses of a new business. Then Doron Benita discussed the past, present and future of the Internet, focusing on strategies for online networking and marketing. Interestingly, while most of the people in the room said they used Facebook, very few used LinkedIn, and only two people used Twitter. This may be due to Facebook's Hebrew interface, which makes it easier for Israelis than English-only services.
After a break for refreshments and further networking, we had structured networking sessions at the tables. Since most participants were experienced BNI members, this was a familiar activity, and some people already knew a few people at their tables.
I enjoyed the event. I met some new people and introduced people to each other, perhaps leading to collaborations. I received a referral from one person at my table. It is always good to meet members of other chapters I know. However, it was a pity there were so few participants, as the larger events have a more energetic atmosphere. I would also have preferred to see more non-BNI participants. I hope next year BNI Israel organizes a large national event for International Networking Week, as these seem to be more worthwhile.