Thursday was my last day as a member of the Royal Oak, Mich., chapter of Business Network International (BNI). I’ve been member of this chapter and a major supporter of the networking organization since 1996.
I started going to BNI meetings the same year I transformed my photography company into a creative representation firm. BNI has played a role in attracting to my company some of the biggest jobs, clients and opportunities. Due to my travel schedule and focus outside of my home town I decide relinquish my seat.
The business of photography has changed. I’ve changed, too. I’m still a photographer with a studio in Ferndale, Mich. But the economic slowdown in Detroit and major shifts in the photography industry have forced me to look outside of this market for new opportunities. Social media has played a big part in the development and success of my efforts.
BNI has taught me how to focus on my business message and how to network using that message. Without BNI’s influence I may not have had the perspective and skills necessary to develop the social media community I enjoy today.
Givers gain is the foundation of BNI. As I continue to focus my attention and business outside my local community, I’ve found it harder to be a member. I’ve not been networking locally. I’m not getting referrals for my fellow chapter members. As valuable as my seat is, I realized it is time to give someone else a chance.
I hope another photographer fills my position soon. Only one person from each occupational specialty is allowed to fill the valuable seats in each BNI chapter. If that person is you, please remember that offline networking is like online networking: The more you give, help others and participate, the more you will get back.
Some people don’t believe in BNI. Like social networking groups, each chapter has a different personality. If you participate in an online forum that doesn’t work out, it doesn’t mean all forums are bad. Many are good places to educate, learn, and meet new people.
I’ve collected many good memories in the 15 years I participated in BNI. I’ve made friends and earned clients through the efforts of my fellow members. I’m not leaving because of social media. It’s still important to network offline in order to build business relationships.
I’m writing this post to thank everyone at BNI who has supported my career. Since the first days of The Rosh Group Inc., I’ve never had to wonder where to find a trustworthy accountant, mortgage broker, attorney or plumber. Conversely, I had a team of people, educated by me, looking every day for photography leads for my business.
I cannot fully express my gratitude toward by BNI team members for all the big and little things they’ve done for me. They’ve all made me a smarter business owner and a better person.
I leave grateful for my experience and excited for my future. For now, I’m going to do something that I’ve rarely done in the last fourteen years — sleep in on a Thursday morning.