Today an important stage in my life came to an end. I left my BNI chapter after four years of membership.
BNI (Business Network International) is the world's largest networking organization. Each chapter has one representative of each occupation, and members meet each week to give each other business referrals through word of mouth marketing. The weekly meeting is structured, with members and visitors presenting their business, a central talk by one member, and the passing of referrals. Members are also required to meet each other for personal "one to one" conversations.
When I was invited to join, I was unsure how useful it would be for my translation business, but I knew it would help me develop new skills. Being a member of BNI taught me how to speak confidently in public, how to present my business, and how to interact with business people from all walks of life. My development was relatively rapid, and my newfound confidence enabled me to give a public lecture at a professional conference.
It was also good for my business. During 2007 and 2008, one third of my income came from BNI referrals. This is considered a good result. Members achieve differing levels of income from referrals, but most cover the cost of membership many times over.
Throughout my membership of the Haifa chapter, I have been an active member of the chapter's leadership team. I have served as Visitor Host (several times), VP, Education Coordinator, Membership Committee, and President. My term as President was an important achievement for me, and I learned a lot about leading and motivating a team. I was also chosen by the chapter as the Outstanding Member for 2007, and my name was recorded on the chapter's cup (see photo).
My main reason for not renewing my membership for a fifth year is a change I am planning in my business. I am reducing my translation workload to make time for my own writing and creative projects. This new business is less suited to word of mouth marketing. I feel I have given and received a lot from BNI, but now it is time to move on.
I would like to thank the following people:
BNI Founder and Chairman, Dr. Ivan Misner, for establishing this organization that has helped thousands of business professionals worldwide over the past 25 years. I listened to Dr. Misner's podcasts each week, and was thrilled when he graciously commented on a blog post I wrote here about International Networking Week.
The co-National Directors of BNI Israel, Yarden Noy, who has been a role model for me since I first met her at my first MSP, and Sam Schwartz, whose lectures at various BNI events have been an inspiration.
Dr. Itai Plaut, who started out as a member of my chapter, and later became Area Manager of the North of Israel, and accompanied my chapter. Itai gave me guidance during my term as President.
Danny Weiss, another member of my chapter, who was President when I joined. Danny chaired the Open Table meetings I attended every month, and generously shared his knowledge of BNI procedures.
Finally, I would like to thank all the current and former members of BNI Haifa Chapter for the time they spent with me, for the referrals and connections they made me, for supporting and witnessing my development, for giving me the opportunity to become a leader, and for everything I have learned. I will keep in touch, continue to make referrals when possible, and perhaps one day return.