I thought i’d take a moment to reflect back on my many years of networking and draw a personal comparison between my time as a member of BNI Brentwood and my membership of Essex Business Forum.
I joined BNI Brentwood almost as soon as it was launched in 1998. I was new to the world of running a business at this stage, and the concept of regular networking with like-minded business professionals was amazing. I joined after my first visit and enjoyed over a decade of membership throughout which BNI was responsible for a very significant part of my income.
Towards the end of my time at BNI, the concept of business networking was becoming very popular and many rival groups were emerging. Most of these groups didn’t last long and has only a small group of members. Networking groups without a critical mass of regular members are doomed to fail, and therefore anything less than 20 bodies attending the meetings each week just doesn’t work or last very long.
What finally made my mind up to leave BNI was the ever increasing feeling that as members of this organisation we were getting less and less value for money. Given the global size of this organisation, and the fact that all of the membership fees that were paid each year (around £600 per person I seem to recall?) the individual group saw none of this money and were left to promote itself and the members to promote themselves.