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BNI Moray passes £1 million mark in business generated

By Chris Saunderson

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A BUSINESS organisation in which members support, encourage and pass on referrals to each other has hit the £1 million mark in revenue in three years.

Members of the Moray chapter at an online meeting.
Members of the Moray chapter at an online meeting.

BNI Moray was formed in February 2018 - part of the wider BNI international network - and currently has 25 active members.

Since the first lockdown last April, the group has directly generated £335,668 worth of business for members.

Claire Beckley, the Lossiemouth-based president, said the strength of teamwork and camaraderie amongst the group was key to its success.

And she emphasised that the group is not just about business referrals alone, but also provided a huge wealth of business knowledge, advice and support, with many members struggling due to the impact of the pandemic.

The weekly 90-minute breakfast meeting of the group, which was previously held face-to-face at Elgin Youth Café, moved online last March as the pandemic struck. and, apart from one social walk when restrictions eased slightly last summer, the group has remained online since March 2020. They also have a WhatsApp group for members to provide additional support 24/7.

Claire said: “From an initial fear of moving the meetings online, everybody has become very comfortable with business networking online. It has given many of our members the time and confidence to develop the delivery of their products and services remotely in a virtual world.”

The membership is drawn from a mix of professional services and trades people, the latter including such as joiners, plumbers and electricians. adapting to working in a Covid-safe way.

The core value of the BNI organisation is ‘Givers Gain’ and Claire said that ethos applies very much to the Moray chapter.

“Those who put the most into the chapter, get the most out of it. It is not just about turning up to a few meetings and suddenly getting £10,000 worth of business in the first month.

“It can take time for members to settle into the chapter and get to know the other businesses and the other members, but when that starts to happen, the rewards follow. Every single member of our team wants to help every other member of the team out, by passing business referrals to them. The reality is that the more you give to the team, the more you get back from everybody else.”

Each member gets 60 seconds each week to give a micro brief presentation about their business and to ask for any specific referrals that they want. With that number of people in the room, it is likely that at least one of the group will be able to help that member out by making an introduction. In addition to the weekly meeting, members meet on a one-to-one basis, in order to gain a better and more in depth understanding of each other’s businesses and to further understand how they can respectively help each other out. and also an additional update on one-to-one sessions and referrals they have passed on or received from other members.

Claire said a lot of work and effort has gone into growing the chapter in the last 18 months, and there are plans to increase the membership further.

At the same time, she is keen for it to remain small enough that members can really get to know each other personally and for meetings to be remain informal, albeit that there is a strict agenda which is followed at every meeting.

“Business relationships revolve around personal relationships – people want to do business with people who they like and trust,” she added.

At a recent Friday morning meeting, a number of members reported how they had recouped their monthly membership fee several times over through the referrals passed to them by other members.

And another key feature of the chapter is that only one business from a specific sector can be admitted, ensuring that no members are directly in competition with each other.

And if there are similarities between would-be members, a mutually beneficial way forward can be agreed.

The Moray chapter is keen to support as many local businesses as possible and shortly before Christmas last year, they held an online “Shop Local Day”, where a number of local business owners, many of whom were not necessarily BNI members, were invited to make a presentation to a meeting.

Claire said this proved very popular and there are plans to repeat it and host other similar local initiatives.

The Moray chapter is part of the BNI Scotland North network, which has generated over £14 million worth of business in the last year.

BNI Scotland North already has five groups in Aberdeen, two in the Highlands and Islands and additional groups for the Dundee, Elgin, Peterhead, Inverurie, Stonehaven, Montrose, Perth and Dunfermline areas. There are more than 350 members in total.

Worldwide, BNI has over 275,000 members in 10,000 chapters and across 70 countries, so the opportunity is there to attract international trade. Whilst the local team consists primarily of members local to Moray, BNI members support each other locally, regionally, nationally and internationally.

Claire finished by extending an invitation to anybody who is interested in learning more to come along to experience a meeting for themselves. "All of our visitors can be assured of a warm welcome."

Angela Kinghorn, Executive Director at BNI Scotland North, said: “Everyone connected to BNI Moray should be incredibly proud of their long list of achievements. BNI Moray is an engaging and proactive chapter. We wish them continued success.”

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