Over the past six months we’ve published a series of articles featuring interviews with Business Networking International chapter members in Springfield, Illinois. Most recently we spoke with four professionals representing different industries across the city. Each has extended their network of professional contacts, developed friendships, got more involved in their community, and most of all enjoyed helping other businesses to grow and be successful.
KC Sullivan helped launched the Springfield Insiders chapter five years ago. “There are many professionals that would absolutely benefit from the exposure that BNI provides, much the same way that my business has been enhanced through the group,” said KC. “The outreach of the group to their personal networks has undoubtedly grown my client/business base.”
BNI provides an extended network of professionals who have increased KC’s exposure tremendously and, just as importantly, a network of vetted professionals that he refers clients to in order to satisfy his network’s needs.
“Networking has made me more valuable to my client base and has increased my knowledge set in order to better serve that base,” said KC.
The benefit to meeting weekly is that you get to know your chapter members very well, said KC. “This process makes it very easy to recognize what a fellow chapter member’s perfect referral is and how they can help an individual from your personal network.”
Katie Lancaster of Eck, Schafer & Punke joined BNI two years ago. She is also a member of the Springfield Insiders chapter. She said it’s a great way for businesses, young and old, to attract new clients.
Meeting new people has been an added bonus. “You never know what someone’s background and passion are made up of until you can see and hear it for yourself,” said Katie.
Her public speaking too has improved, as has her sense of community. “I have been invited to speak as a professional at other meetings and have found quite a few new clients and friends along the way.”
Katie said the commitment of members to participate weekly was an aspect many other networking groups did not offer.
Travis Blaney is the sales and marketing team leader for TWO MEN AND A TRUCK®/Central Illinois, he found that BNI was the perfect fit for him because he enjoys being able to help his fellow chapter members. “It’s fun for me to have phone calls from people asking if I can help them track down a service or item.”
Travis said he would recommend BNI to anyone that has a heart for helping others grow their businesses. “Once you start doing that, the natural outcome is a growth in your business. If you go into BNI with an attitude of what can everyone do for me; it will not be a successful venture. Like any leadership opportunity or position, it has to be about others first.”
The obvious benefit of being a member is gaining referrals, but Travis said there are other advantages to BNI that you might not expect. “The not so obvious is how I think about my business and where to look for new business. When I’m meeting with these really smart people each week, hearing them talk about their businesses and successes, it stretches me to look in new areas for prospective customers. It definitely keeps me from being stagnant in my approach.”
BNI members remain a source of referrals year after year, said Travis.
“Many of my referrals from BNI are paying off years later and have created second, third, and fourth tier referrals. I still get referrals from previous members that are no longer in a group.” Travis is a member of the Springfield Thursday Morning Business Builders chapter.
Aaron Evans is an attorney at Sorling Northurp Attorneys, he heard about BNI through a colleague and decided to join after attending a couple meetings first hand. “There is great camaraderie in this group, and the enthusiasm to expand and improve area businesses is contagious,” said Aaron, also a member of the Springfield Thursday Morning Business Builders chapter. “BNI is an opportunity to collaborate with other professionals in the community. Connecting with other professionals through BNI gives you a deeper understanding of area businesses across various industries and provides a forum for each of us to work together to better service our clients.” Aaron said he also enjoys sharing his experience in the legal industry and being a resource to other members. “I appreciate the opportunity to borrow from their experiences as well.”
If you are interested in joining a Business Networking International chapter in Springfield get in touch with Central Illinois Director, Jeff Ensinger, on 309 453 2463 or email firstname.lastname@example.org or you can visit www.bni-il.com.