Everything started in 2002, when I was in USA in a business trip and I was invited to a BNI meeting. It was winter, a dark cold morning when we arrived at the meeting place. We were very well received by the chapter members, and we kept an eye on the dynamics of the meeting. Frankly speaking, my first impression was that the meeting was an American thing made for American people. Because my focus on that trip was elsewhere, so I didn’t give continuity. Everything changed five years later, in 2007, when I was working with Executive coaching based on the development of Networking skills, so I remembered that experience with BNI. Searching BNI, it caught my attention realizing that this organization had doubled in size in the past 5 years, going from 2,400 chapters, 50,000 members in 20 countries to 4,900 chapter and 110,000 members in 44 countries. I also noticed that South America was the only continent without BNI presence. I immediately contacted BNI head office in USA, and the rest is history.
Now, 10 years after my first BNI training in January 2008, we placed Brazil and South America in the BNI maps. Today, there are 130+ chapters and 5,000+ members in 8 States and 70 cities in Brazil. These numbers are important to illustrate the growth of BNI in Brazil and around the world, but the best was about to come. BNI’s essence are the people. They are the ones who build those numbers and make the difference in our lives. Therefore, it’s not hard to imagine what happens when those people decide to help each other and recommend business opportunities to one another, in other words, to practice the reciprocity law. The Givers Gain philosophy permeates the BNI organization. If I give you a business opportunity, you’ll be interested in give me business in return or to somebody else in our chapter. Only the ones who are a part of BNI are able to understand the transformational power of the Givers Gain philosophy. That’s the beauty of Networking. We never know where it will take us, the doors that potentially will open in front of us. This philosophy may appear simple, but it is not obvious. Very few companies have such a strong culture as BNI.
What if I tell you that this organization and its strong culture has changed my life, professional and personally?
And has been doing the same in the life of thousands of people around the world? It seems too good to be true, right? As the CEO of BNI Brazil, I’m suspect to talk about it, but what can we say about the hundreds of members and directors here in Brazil who has witnessed the change that BNI has done in their lives and companies? They say that BNI leveraged their sales in 50%. Others say that 80% of their clients come from referrals of their chapter members. There are those who say they have completely redesigned their companies through strategic partnerships with other BNI members. Not mentioning many cases where professionals and entrepreneurs come to thank me, saying that because of the business opportunities received through BNI they managed to avoid shutting down their companies during the economic recession. How grateful it is to receive this feedback! To know that we are making a difference in people’s life is priceless! This is what motivates me to keep waking up every morning searching the expansion of BNI to reach more and more entrepreneurs all over Brazil.
Highlighting only one aspect of this transformation provided by BNI, for the first time in my professional life I was able to align my professional and personal values. I don’t have to be someone at work and someone else at home. Those who have already worked in big companies know what I’m talking about. When someone gets this alignment, simply, work stops being a burden and starts being a journey with purpose. During these 10 years leading BNI Brazil, the experience has shown me that in a bigger or smaller scale, people are being touched by BNI, members, directors, employees, also have given us the same feedback about this experience of alignment between values and purpose. Working in a collaborative way for the good of the others makes all sense to us in BNI.
A new world of opportunity
We know we are building together something much bigger, we are not just fostering more business to BNI members, we are contributing to transform people into better professionals, we are catalyzing business efforts to improve local communities where BNI is located. We are changing the way the world does business. BNI brings out the best of human being. As Dr. Ivan Misner, founder of BNI, says, the BNI Organization haven’t helped only the evolution of mentality from competition to collaboration, but, more important, the evolution of mentality from collaboration to co-creation. Nowadays, if companies like Uber and Airbnb are in the vanguard of collaborative economy, BNI organization went beyond that, it was not only visionary materializing the collaborative economy more than 3 decades ago, but also as the precursor of the co-creative economy. Where all stakeholders get together to build a greater good for society. Literally, they live the profit with purpose mind set.
It is not enough serving the stakeholder with good products, good services, good salaries and good profits all of that combined effort needs to be grounded in a higher purpose, positively impacting society in which this organization is inserted. Of course, we from BNI, seek to grow our companies profits, but we know that at the same time we are co-creating a more collaborative Society where fierce and predatory competition (scarcity mentality, which divides and subtracts: for one to win, other has to lose) gives place to coopetition, in other words, cooperation between people and companies, generating more business opportunities for all, as well as strategic partnerships between peers and / or competitors. This is the mentality of abundance, which sums and multiplies for everyone to win. This is the BNI organization in action. Be welcome to the world’s largest referral organization, where a new world of opportunity is waiting for you.
Wishing everyone a fantastic International Networking Week 2019!
Marcos R. Martins | National Director, BNI Brazil
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