I wanted to share this interview.

Interview with BNI Memphis Member

Leah Knox, MOO

Mom Of Owner – Shane Perkins

TakeOverSEO  Memphis, Tennessee.

What is Business Network International, BNI?

Business Network International is an international networking organization of professional business owners that come together on a weekly basis based on the concept of Givers Gain. Givers Gain is a book that was that was written by the founder, Ivan Misner, PHD that expands on a very simple concept. The more you give, the more you gain. Kinda like, “paying it forward”. Members of Business Network International believe in the basic premise of giving and supporting your fellow chapter members.

This concept can be a very powerful foundation in growing your business and if this is a guiding principal in your life, Business Network International may be a good fit for you. If you see yourself and others in your company as boundless personal resources of inspirational support and goodwill toward others and you have not found an outlet for this vital and creative source of energy then you might look into the availability of local chapters available to you.

Ideally your local chapter will be grounded in the basic premise of giving and supporting other members in their profession and utilizing them as a marketing team for you. With the givers gain principal we are encouraged to understand our BNI members in their business and the target market that they are going for in their Tier 1 and Tier 3 referrals and as chapter members we help them acquire these Tier 1 and Tier 3 referrals.

Who should join Business Network International and why?

The perfect BNI member would be a business owner or representative of a business that can devote four or more hours a week to the chapter. For example; 2 hours for the weekly meeting and another two hours to network with and promote other chapter members and their business.

It is someone who likes to be involved and engaged with other business members and likes learning about what other business members can offer and who can serve their same target market audience. Preferably someone who enjoys speaking from small to medium size groups. Or at least wants to learn how to speak more comfortably from small to medium size groups. It is also someone who has a generous nature and believes in the givers gain philosophy.

How did you find out about Business Network International?

I found out about Business Network International when my son (Shane Perkins) became the Vice President of one of the local Business Network International Midsouth chapters called the Trusted Adviser’s of Memphis, Tennessee (BNI Midsouth Executive Director, Jana Cardona). He became the vice president of the chapter and soon found himself helping grow the membership. He asked me if I would like to help him with the marketing of TakeOverSEO services and in a very sneeky way asked me if I would like to assume his seat in the chapter.

I told him no thank you, I would not like to do that because I am not prepared or qualified to be a Vice President and he said, “no mom, that’s not what I’m talking about”. He said to me that if I assumed his seat I would simply become a member. I said to him that this was fine with me. I looked forward to growing as a business person since I had formerly had my own businesses prior anyway. So I joined the chapter as a member and soon became involved with greeting visitors and baking cookies. The other chapter members tease me saying that I held the “Baking Seat” and just use TakeOverSEO as an excuse to be at the meeting.

Since then I’ve grown in the chapter and the leadership team (President, Josh Goode, IBR Payroll) recently officially asked me if I would like to be the Growth Coordinator/Business Card Box organizer/Baking Seat expert of our Business Network International Trusted Adviser’s chapter. I was very flattered and I assured the leadership committee that I would do my best in a PTA president/cheerleader type of style and that I would also do my best to increase our chapters visibility, credibility, and profitability, and just plain have fun.

I do take what I do very seriously but try not to take myself too seriously. It is just a personal philosophy. Life can be very difficult sometimes and is full of challenges and HARD work when you own your own business and the best stress relief for me is just being authentic, having fun and even being silly and lighthearted. I try to keep my priorities in perspective and use the words, “I am sorry but…NO” often to protect my personal energy resources.

At the end of the day I want to be able to say to myself that I brought harm to one (the Law Of Reciprocity will take care of others and the harm they may intentionally or unintentionally bring) and I did my best to shine a light of truth and compassion in my interactions with others.  These are the ways that I help ensure to myself that I will have enough energy and ambition to keep my mood good and my disposition seeing the glass half full. If I start to see the glass half empty then I know I am out of balance and need to make adjustments somewhere and probably use the words, “I am sorry but…NO” more often.

How has Business Network International helped your business?

I have gotten up to speed on the current business atmosphere. This was important to me since the last time I owned my own business was several years ago. A lot can change in 5 years. I became confident in today’s business arena. And began networking with other business owners and helping them build their business in exchange for them also helping build ours. My sons company, TakeOverSEO provides Internet Marketing and SEO, Search Engine Optimization services.

We are simply 21st Century Digital Movers of the World Wide Web on its informational landscape. We have grown in services and in family dimensions. My daughter Lily Perkins is now the SEO expert for our company. I am very proud of both of my children and most importantly of our family coming together to provide 21st-century marketing and advertising avenues in today’s fast-paced world of Internet and Website communication.

What is a Business Network International meeting like?

From start to finish it is about an hour and a half long. We have time for socializing and mingling and then go into a structured business introduction of each of the members and visitors. We each take 60 seconds to give a “commercial” of our business, say who we are looking for as customers/clients and introduce ourselves. We then have a secretary and President’s report, some professional educational material and an upcoming events report. Then we have a featured member give a 10 minute presentation on their business or service offering. This is a very important time where we as members are educated by our fellow member on what their business is and how we can help them find their best referral customer/clients.

We finish the meeting the meeting with a 30 second recap our activities for the week and promote our involvement and cross chapter offerings. And then the meeting is formally closed and we can continue networking with each other. Of course, this is how our meeting is carried out but each chapter has their own unique way of conducting the meeting.

How do you become a member? Are there any fees?

To become a member a business owner or representative would submit an application. This application is reviewed by an anonymous Membership Committee. They review and vote to bring the member in if they are a good fit and that person’s business is not already represented in the chapter. A Business Network International chapter only allows 1 seat to be filled by each particular business hoping to decrease direct competition and promote the formation of “power teams” to cross promote and grow each other’s business.

In our chapter we have 15 members currently. We are trying to build our chapter to 20 members because there is a threshold once you hit 20 members of eight times more referrals for “close of business” then if you have a chapter 10 or less members. It is very important that when you are developing a BNI chapter that you look at the businesses represented by each member and that you develop the cross-referral growth of that membership to complement each of the businesses; this is what can be referred to as  “power teams”.

The power team is a group of two or more businesses that complement one another in the services that they offer to a single client. Let’s say for instance the client is an apartment complex. Ideally in a Business Network International chapter you would put together a power team of a construction company that can do repairs and maintenance for the apartment complex. As well as an exterminator that can service the complex for their pest control needs. You might also have a roofer that can take care of the roofs in all of the buildings of the complex and any natural disaster or emergency need such as flooding or breakage of a tree limb that puts a hole in the roof.

Another complementary power team member might be a marketing firm. Who can promote the rental needs and offerings for the apartment community. Each of the those BNI members could become a power team around a client such as an apartment complex. If a BNI chapter grows with this in mind the referral sales volume will increase exponentially.

“Givers Gain” The BNI Story is a great read by Ivan Misner, the creator of BNI, Business Network International.

Mrs. Jana Cardona is a professional speaker on business growth and networking and the President of the BNI Business Network International Mid-South Region, you can find additional information on BNI at www.midsouthbni.com