Business Network International formed in Sri Lanka:
‘Word of mouth’ used as main tool
Several businessmen in Colombo and Kandy got together last week for
introducing the BNI concept (Business Network International) in Sri
Lanka which is a novel concept to the country and which helps
businessmen to promote their business mutually and collectively over
regular weekly breakfast meetings and subsequent follow-ups.
What is BNI?
BNI is a worldwide professional business organization established in
the United States founded by the Business Writer and a Scholar on
Business Promotion Dr Ivan R Misner and the group has several thousand
Chapters throughout the United States and a membership of over 134,000.
Business network build-up
A Chapter is a group of 20-35 members and only one person from each
profession or business is permitted to hold membership in one Chapter.
BNI Chapters can be formed in major towns and a congested town or a city
could have more than one Chapter. The group is spread throughout the
world in 54 countries and in the Asian region it has successful Chapters
functioning in Malaysia, Japan, Singapore, India, Taiwan, Thailand, UAE,
Israel, Hong Kong and some other countries.
Its representation in Malaysia dates back to over 10 years and the
group has contributed immensely to the Malaysian miracle in Business
Development. During its four years penetration into the Indian Business
market, it has spread its wings to almost all regions in India and
targets to incorporate 10,000 members.
The philosophy of this organization is built upon the idea that by
giving business to others, you will get business in return. This is
based on the age-old idea of “What goes around comes around.” The
mission of BNI is to help members increase their business through a
structured, positive, and professional “word-of-mouth” program that
enables them to develop long-term, meaningful relationships with quality
BNI is designed to increase business, fine tune presentation skills,
develop an advisory group, participate in joint marketing efforts,
arrange speaking engagements, become a resource for customers, become an
effective public speaker, gain valuable feed back and learn new sales
Sri Lankan Chapter
The Sri Lankan group of this Organization held an introductory
training session in Colombo on Feb. 8 and it has been arranged to have
the official launch of BNI in Colombo on Feb 24. The Sri Lankan Group is
headed by Marjan A Manzil who holds credentials of BPharm MCIM (UK) and
Chartered Marketer from UK and has marketing experience of several years
in the Pharmaceutical Industry.
He is the Country Director/National Director for Sri Lanka and
Maldives. Brigadier J P A Jayawardena is the Regional Director of this
At this introductory gathering the philosophy, the operational
method, the advantageous available and the effectiveness of the BNI
concept was elaborated with facts and figures to the participants by the
National Director Marjan A Manzil.
Word of Mouth Marketing (WOM) Technique
Presentation made at the Introductory Seminar, attended by
professionals and business from the import/export, educational
promotional, travel, manufacturing and service sectors, convinced the
participants that the concept of business promotion being done by Word
of Mouth by members representing the Chapters is a very powerful tool
and it is equivalent to having several, twenty or more professionals and
businessmen in continuous sales promotion and in mutual and collective
expansion of each other’s businesses.
It was also convinced that the World of Mouth business promotion is
Last year alone, members of BNI the world over have passed 6.5
million referrals to each other resulting in over 2.8 billion US$ worth
of business for its members.
The system provides an environment in which personal relationships
are developed with dozens of other qualified business professionals with
opportunity created to substantially increase businesses among each
The system of functioning of a BNI Chapter is highly professional and
not only one person from each profession or trade is permitted to hold
membership in the chapter but they should also be in permanent business
and not a part time businessmen or professionals.
Each Chapter holds weekly breakfast meetings and attendance at these
weekly meetings of 90 minutes duration is compulsory except for medical
reasons and in that situation represented by a substitute and these
meetings are the core engine of driving businesses.
During the ninety minute session members get the opportunity of
getting themselves introduce to other members, explain about their
product and services and their objectives, discuss business prospects
and opportunities available, improvements to business that the market
sector warrants, and new referrals they have found relating to each
other’s businesses and who could further expand their business, etc.
BNI provides a structured and supportive system of giving and
receiving business referrals in this manner.
These meetings also provide the opportunity for members to have one
to one meetings, after the breakfast meetings, discuss about follow ups
and even to get visit to referrals or news business establishments
National and International Business Promotion
The members in a chapter are permitted to bring in referrals/visitors
to their breakfast meetings and such a visitor’s attendance is
restricted to two visits. The members can offer their products on a door
price at the breakfast gatherings during 10 minutes presentation and
this is awarded to a member who brings highest number of
The members in a Chapter are provided with details of businesses of
other members and their Business Cards, so that when the members meet a
referral interested in one of the business being carried out by another
member in the Chapter such details are passed on to the referral and
contacts are established resulting in a business promotion move.
Similarly members also undertake the responsibility of promoting the
businesses of their colleagues in the Chapter.
Interested professionals/businessmen could establish BNI Chapters in
any of the towns under the purview of the National Chapter, which offers
the opportunity for the members to interlink with other towns and
regions as well. Also the BNI members have the possibility to expand
their businesses worldwide through the members listed under a country
profile in its worldwide website www.bni.com and members could visit and
establish contacts with overseas members by visiting BNI Chapters in the
countries of visit.
Administration of Chapters
Administration work relating to a Chapter is undertaken by a
President, a Vice President, Secretary/Treasurer, with team support from
Visitor Hostd, Membership Committee and Educational Coordinator. These
members are chosen by consensus, as there is no contest for posts under
the BNI concept. The core functions related to the posts are more or
less similar to other organizations but Membership Committee has an
onerous task of screening membership applications and to listen to
complaints from members and take corrective action as it deems
necessary. The Educational Coordinator is responsible of representing a
networking education topic during the weekly meetings.
There is an annual membership fee for becoming a member in a Chapter
and this fee is peanuts when compared to the advertisement charges being
levied by print media for a single day advertisement, which mostly are
ignored by the business community, in particular.
The organization is an economical promotional medium for any
businessman, industrialist or a service provider and in the highly
competitive market BNI is a vibrant vehicle for getting several
professional businessmen voicing and working collectively for your
business promotion, efficiently and effectively. (niz).