How often do you hear the phrase, ‘It’s not what you know, it’s who you know’? If you’re in business or developing your career then I bet you hear it often. And, in a place such as Springfield, IL, developing a network of contacts and building meaningful professional relationships is key. We spoke to Jay Davis the president of Springfield Insiders, a Business Networking International chapter in Springfield, which in 12 months has seen $2million in referrals.
What is BNI?
BNI is an international networking group with chapters across the world. Each group, of which there are four in Springfield, IL, allows one representative from each industry to join. Chapters meet every week, usually for one-and-a-quarter hours, and there is a structure to the meeting that allows for the most activity in a short period of time. Each member has two minutes to talk about his or her business and the type of referrals he or she is looking for that week.
How does the referral process work?
Referrals can be made in person at the meeting, slips of carbon copy paper are provided and there are three layers: one is handed to the person receiving the referral, one is given to the vice president whose role it is to record all referrals, and the third is kept by you – the person giving the referral. You can also send referrals online, which is the preferred method for some members.
How do referrals translate into more business?
As the recipient of a referral you will either be provided contact information or your fellow BNI member will introduce you to the new party, usually on email. It really does depend on the type of business transaction, and any existing relationships or knowledge of the company, as to how that introduction is made. It’s important to follow up on any referrals, not only do you not know where it could take your business, but it’s vital to maintain the good reputation of the group.
Who are members of your chapter, Springfield Insiders?
The chapter’s members include: KC Sullivan with The Real Estate Group, Tony Boston of Superior Sound Entertainment, Jerry Boster with Security Bank, Gemma and Chris Long of Gem PR & Media, Abby Sgro of Griffin Winning Cohen & Bodewes PC Attorneys at Law, Chris Fehr of Freedon Financial Wealth Management, Jeff Miller with The Cleaning Guy, Jarred Calbow of Liberty Lawn Care, Dr Bryne Willey of AlignLife Chiropractic & Natural Health Center, Katie Lancaster of Eck, Shafer & Punke Accounting, Lien Anderson of Anderson Builders/Handyman, Anthony Cortelou of FE Moran/Residential and Commercial Security Systems and David Bray of United Community Bank / Retail Banking.
When does your BNI chapter meet?
We meet every Wednesday at the Country Financial office at 2931 Montvale Dr, Springfield, 62704. Each meeting begins at 7.45am and ends at 9am. Visitors are invited to attend on the first Wednesday of each month.
To what do you attribute the success of your chapter?
Each member has taken on the responsibility to attend every week (or send a substitute), show up on time, contribute to the group, create engaging presentations, and to be an ambassador for all those represented. We have taken the time to better understand each business in order to go about our professional lives and spread the word, develop relationships, and provide referrals. We also have a good time and enjoy each other’s company. Something we like to say is, “we like to have fun, but we’re serious about business.”