Early Mornings At The Cav…. The BNI Arafura Story"Want to join me and 27 other business professionals for breakfast at the Cav hotel at 7am?".. If you have ever being asked this question I'm sure you're thinking, "What! 7am?".. There’s little doubt you’ve heard of Business Network International (BNI), a membership organisation where independent business people join the group and come to weekly meetings for the purpose of passing business referrals to each other. The organization boasts that it will dramatically increase your new business leads — but it also demands weekly meeting attendance, a 60 second referral request and fees that often exceed $1,000 a year. So is BNI worth the hype? I’m a guy who’s into networking, meeting other business people, and making relationships, and doing business. So, naturally, when I found out about BNI (Business Network International), I was absolutely intrigued. I took a membership application home with me the first day, and brought it back the next week with my payment. I didn’t know much about it, or how the meetings worked, but I loved that I found a group dedicated to meeting every week and passing business back and forth. Eventually, I became more and more involved with the chapter I was a part of, and joined the membership committee, then was also nominated as the visitor host. You could say I am crazy about BNI, and it was true—I love it. So if you’re interested in joining, let me explain some quick requirements for membership.
Requirements for joining a BNI chapter:
- You must work full-time in your position (i.e. no part-time employees allowed)
- You must commit to showing up to the weekly meetings (there IS an attendance policy)
- You must be willing to give referrals to other members in the chapter, and follow up on the referrals you receive
- You can’t be a member of another competing organization
- Only one person per industry may join a chapter
Pros of being a BNI chapter member:Joining a BNI chapter is an excellent way to get to know lots of business people very quickly. If you’re new to the town you live in, or just aren’t well-connected, joining a BNI Chapter is the fastest way I know of for meeting people and becoming known. It’s structured in such a way that you are required to meet with the other chapter members during the week and get to know their business, as well as talk about your own business. This was one of my favorite aspects of being a BNI Member. It ensures that you get to learn all about the other members, and they get to know all about you. Established BNI Members are generally trustworthy. While it’s not impossible to get burned by a BNI member, the system is structured so that there’s a LOT of accountability and transparency. If you purchase a product or service from a BNI member and he screws up, you can bet the rest of the chapter is going to find out. So he has an incentive to make things right to protect his reputation. This is good. As I said, this isn’t always foolproof—and the people who most often break this rule are the new members who haven’t already built up their reputation. But if you’re looking for a network of people in all kinds of industries who you have a good chance of being able to trust, BNI is for you. BNI is extremely structured. Something you’ll learn at “leadership training,” (which is, incidentally, mandatory), is that BNI has a strictly-enforced structure and process for everything. There are two mandatory meetings each year you’ll need to go to: Member Success Program (MSP), and Leadership Training (LT). This is where you learn alllllll the rules, and there are lots of them! What I learned to appreciate about their structure is that it makes it very easy for each member to know what is required of them at all times, and if you take advantage of the system, there’s a lot of support in place. BNI charges for membership. Why is this in the “pros” list? It is a good thing, in my opinion, because it keeps flakes from joining. You know the type… they show up for one meeting, get everything they can for free, talk loudly about all their products and services, and never come back. Personally, I wasn’t interested in doing business with people who couldn’t afford to take their business serious enough to commit to joining a group (instead of just trying to sell to people they didn’t know). There are lots of other free groups all over town that start up and shut down frequently due to non-committal people like that, and that’s OK for them, but BNI chapters are in it for the long run. And the dues you pay cover the charges for the paperwork and the corporate structure that keeps it afloat. Attendance is required. Why is this a good thing? For the same reason as above. People who can commit to show up every week are proving themselves to be dependable, generally trustworthy people. If they can’t commit to coming each week, that’s fine, but again, there are other groups for that. I liked the attendance requirement—it meant my willingness to get up early every Wednesday at 6:00am to get ready for my BNI chapter meeting meant that others were doing the same. I appreciated that. It’s not a “leads group.” I’ve already mentioned the free BNI clones that have no attendance policy, but something you should also be aware of is that some of these groups meet for the purpose of passing “leads,” qualified or not. There are groups around that have a policy of requiring every person to bring one lead each week. That, to me, is ridiculously arbitrary and pushy. I would never have been able to join a group like that—I hate playing “business card poker”—tossing business cards on the table to whomever wants to pick them up—and I’m very protective of my business relationships. I’m not about to hand out my friend’s business card to someone I don’t know and say “Here you go, this is John’s card. Give him a call. I have no idea if he wants your products or services, but drop my name and that should get you somewhere.” I’m not a used car salesman—I only do business with people I know and trust. And that’s the BNI model, and I was always a BIG fan of that. BNI has disciplinary policies in place. If a member starts doing a poor job taking care of referrals, or is being unethical, there’s a membership committee ready to handle complaints, and they have a clearly-defined process for conflict management. Generally, it works pretty well, and unethical members “graduate” themselves (our secret word for “get kicked out”) from the chapter eventually. You can make long-lasting relationships in BNI. Because, as I’ve mentioned, there’s a membership fee, an application process, and an attendance requirement, the people who are in BNI chapters generally stay for a long time—several years or more. Because of this, and because you see each other every single week, it’s easy to get to know people. Yes, you can make relationships in other groups, but I really think BNI does the most to nurture these kinds of relationships. They only allow one person per business category in the group. This is a mixed blessing, and some people love it and some people hate it. This means if a chapter already has a roofer, and a visitor shows up who also has a roofing business, he’s welcome to stay for the meeting, but he can’t join the group, and he can’t advertise his business either. This gives a form of protection to the existing roofer and keeps the chapter captive—which is something your roofer should guard jealously. People join BNI to get referrals from people, and by spending their time and money in the chapter, they’ve earned the right to be at the top of the list. And if you think this sounds unfair to the visiting roofer in my example, fear not: a BNI chapter would be very accommodating in helping him find another chapter that needs a roofer. It’s a great place to get over your fears. If you need some help with learning how to network professionally, or get up in front of a group and speak, I can’t think of a better organization to join than BNI. You’ll have a chance to work on your skills for meeting new people, scheduling meetings, learning basic conversational skills, and public speaking. And everyone in the group wants you to succeed so it’s a great place to learn and make mistakes in a tolerant environment. Now, as I said, Im currently part of the leadership team and visitor host, so I can also attest to some of the negative aspects of being in a BNI chapter.
Cons of being a BNI chapter member:One morning per week is totally shot, every single week, all year long. Whatever day your chapter meets, whether it’s lunchtime or breakfast time, you need to clear your calendar for the rest of the year. Plan on not being able to go anywhere else or do anything on that day of the week. We met each Wednesday at 7:10am-8:30am. But if I throw in a little networking after the group, and some membership committee items after the meeting , I effectively had to block out 6:00-9:00am every single Wednesday morning. So any events, meetings or functions that happened to fall on that day and time, would not work for me. That got annoying after a while, having no flexibility. People I knew would invite me to business meetings on Wednesday mornings and then roll their eyes and say “oh yeah, wait, you can’t… you have BNI…“ Some BNI chapters can be nepotistic or “cliquey.” Notice I said they “can” be. They’re generally very open and welcoming to visitors and new members, but there are definitely some clubs out there that have an unspoken understanding of who’s in charge, who not to piss off, and who you need to impress before you’re able to join the group. Just watch out for these kinds of chapters. The attendance policy is overly strict. You’re only allowed to miss three meetings in a six month period, which is a total of six meetings per year. That means that except for holidays that chapters may take off depending on the day of the week they meet, you should plan on being there around 46 weeks per year. If you’re taking an extended vacation (say, two or three months) to the Bahamas, you’re going to need to drop out of your chapter because you can’t be gone that long, even if you send a substitute. BNI will only “suspend” a membership by offering you “medical leave,” but that’s only for medical purposes, and it has a maximum of eight weeks and even thenyou still have to send a substitute. I understand why they do this—they don’t want a chapter’s position held hostage by someone who isn’t there, but it can be really hard to work with if you have a situation that needs time off like this. The “BNI way” is the “right way,” and there is no other way. The BNI system is set up in such a way to imply that you’ll never be able to do business outside of the BNI way. The unspoken attitude is not just that free leads groups and Chamber After Hours events are different, but that they’re inferior. I’m all about the structure in place, like I’ve said, but I don’t think that the BNI way is “the only way.” There are lots of ways to do business—my business model just happened to jive with the BNI way. I’m sure if you ask a BNI representative, they’d disagree with this point, but you can judge for yourself. As I said, it’s unspoken. It’s an attitude, not something they’d admit officially. Pressure to perform. There’s often a pressure, whether your chapter has referral requirements or not, to bring a certain amount of qualified referrals. Some weeks It was difficult for me to find referrals for the other members of the group. The pressure to produce can be so strong, sometimes, that you may find yourself making up referrals on the spot to try to keep up. (Example: you know that your roof is probably OK, but you pass a referral to the roofer in your group to come take a look at your roof, just so you can “have a referral.” I saw this happen numerous times, here's an example —someone would make up a referral for the Mary Kay lady because they knew they could spend a minimum amount ($20 or $30) and still get kudos for passing a referral.) There is definitely “credit” earned for referrals given, and everybody knows exactly how many referrals each members have passed—it’s in the report that everyone gets. …which brings me to my next point: Your performance is measured. Everything you do in the group is measured. The Vice President keeps track of every single time you’ve been absent, every time you’ve been late, every time you’ve sent a substitute, every referral you have passed (or haven’t), every training meeting you’ve been to (or haven’t), every time you have brought a visitor (or haven’t), the dollar amount of the referrals you have passed, and much more. This is not necessarily a bad thing—it’s just something to be aware of. If the chapter sets goals (and each chapter is able to at their discretion), and you fail to meet these goals, actions can be taken against you. These actions are usually very supportive and intended to help you make the most of your membership, but it is something to be aware of. It can definitely feel like you’re back in kindergarten when you get a notice that you’ve had a few “tardys” in the past few months. It’s expensive. It costs around $1000/yr to join a BNI chapter. For me, it made sense, and I certainly made enough return on my investment to justify the cost. But then you’ve also got to think about food (if your chapter meets at a restaurant), or a room rental (if you meet at a rented location), which can run an additional $5-$15/week. So $500 for membership, plus food can cost you around $1,300/year approx when it’s all said and done. You can control a lot of that cost by choosing your food carefully, but you need to consider this first. And some chapters have a minimum charge whether you eat anything or not. I can’t tell you how many times people forget the cost of the the room rental and the food when joining. Please don’t join a BNI chapter if you can’t afford it. It’s more of a time commitment than you realise. It’s easy to say that your chapter only meets for 1.5 hours once a week, and that’s true. But you’ve also got the aforementioned Member Success Program and Leadership Training, in addition to the requirement for having “One to Ones”—where you meet the other members for at least an hour outside of the meeting. And if you get involved in the chapter leadership (as you’ll eventually be pressured to do), your total time commitment can be upwards of 4 hours a week. For me, it was worth it, because I made tens of thousands of dollars each year, but that definitely takes time. So you’re going to be pouring lots of time into your BNI chapter right after you join, and you may not see a return for several months.
So, should I join a BNI Chapter, or not?In conclusion, I generally DO recommend that everyone join a BNI chapter if they can. But I think they need to make an informed decision. I don’t think anybody at BNI ever sets out to confuse anyone about the requirements of membership and they’re very clear about membership responsibilities, but I think most people that join don’t have a clear picture of what an active membership looks like. It’s definitely a commitment, and you need to be aware of that. But if you find the right chapter, put in the work it takes, it can be very rewarding. If you have been or currently involved in a BNI Chapter, loved to hear about your experience....
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A Darwin Golf Day Of Epic Proportions, In More Ways Than One…..Its always a pleasure getting a call from Aaron our local NT real-estate.com.au representative to form a team of guns for the Annual REINT Corporate Golf Day held at the Darwin Golf Club in Marrara. A rare opportunity to let our hair down as an industry with an emphasis on fun, with the consumption of sponsors beverages all players had a great day and made for some interesting kodak moments! A huge thank you to Adam from Call2View for successfully bidding and winning not 1 but 2 golf buggies whilst simultaneously donating $400 to a worthy cause. I hope you enjoy some of the photo’s below which showcase no golf skills and, in some cases, acrobatic talents of our team. [caption id="attachment_459" align="aligncenter" width="604"] From left to right Adam Call2View, Troy Realistic Views Photography, Myself & Aaron Real Estate.Com.Au[/caption] [caption id="attachment_473" align="aligncenter" width="604"] Photobombed.... A pleasure meeting the beautiful Sarah from NT News[/caption] [caption id="attachment_465" align="aligncenter" width="604"] Troy and Aaron show their appreciation to Adam for securing our golf buggies.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_466" align="aligncenter" width="604"] Myself with our illustrious REINT CEO Quentin Killian[/caption] [caption id="attachment_469" align="aligncenter" width="604"] My old crew Cam and Glenn from Raine & Horne Darwin[/caption] [caption id="attachment_470" align="aligncenter" width="604"] The awesome lads from LJ Hooker George, Morgan, Rob & Geoff[/caption] A massive thank you to the REINT and sponsors for making our 2014 golf day a success, judging by the photos this was an epic day! We all can’t wait to do it all over again next year!
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The War Begins – Real Estate Agents Vs RealEstate.Com.auA Facebook page named "Enough Is Enough" is helping the 'Massive' national movement against REA(RealEstate.com.au) fees! Like-minded real estate groups across the country are coming together to take collective action against realestate.com.au's fees, according to the chairman of one of Australia's leading networks. The news comes after it was revealed that over 300 offices in Melbourne had joined forces to establish a new collective bargaining group in an attempt to secure fairer listings charges.
Controlling the monster we createdThere have been a number of meetings and conversations about REA in recent weeks, all designed to put pressure on them to reduce their prices. REA is a ‘monster’ we helped create through our own lack of unity in the industry and our competitiveness. In recent weeks we have seen over 400 agencies in Victoria unite and propose working with a media buyer to obtain better pricing from REA and discuss the upcoming announcement of a new portal that will hit the market in July or August. This is perhaps the first time there has been significant unity against REA. We have had a multitude of opportunities provided to us to disrupt their monopoly, but as an industry we have not supported any. REA representatives inform our businesses every year that prices are increasing and there will be no room for negotiation.
REA Reps Pressure Real Estate Agents To Get Online RenewalsRepresentatives of realestate.com.au appear to have used the threat of suspension from the website to entice real estate agents to renew contracts with the property advertising service. News of the tactics comes amid an escalating battle between REA Group, which is 61.6 per cent owned by News Corporation and is the operator of the No. 1 property website realestate.com.au, and Fairfax Media’s Domain Property Group. The Australian Financial Review, published by Fairfax, has obtained emails that show an agency in Melbourne was told if it chose to cancel its subscription for advertising with the website instead of allowing the account to automatically renew, the agency would be prevented from marketing with the website for three months. “If you don’t want to auto renew, your options moving forward are to downgrade to Flexi w/Feature All or Standard subscription, or cancel your Flexi/Highlight All contract,” said the email from a realestate.com.au account manager. “If you do nothing, the contract will automatically renew on Flexi with Highlight All. “To confirm, if you do decide to cancel your subscription and account with REA, you will need to be off the site for three months before you can sign a new Standard or Flexi subscription as a new customer.” The email came about after the agency was sent information about REA’s new pricing model, which will see the cost of ads aligned with postcodes, based on a median house price basis and supply and demand, resulting in an increase in rates when averaged across all areas.
Lets Get Ready To Rumble!Their most recent decision making/price increases etc has done to their share prices in recent times... Century 21 chief executive Charles Tarbey has confirmed to Real Estate Business that the movement by agents against the REA price hike is gathering pace on a national level, not just in Melbourne. Mr Tarbey, who is one of the network leaders heading up a the new industry site, revealed he's aware of similar moves being made in South Australia and in the Illawarra region of New South Wales. "I've never witnessed as much interest from various groups in the industry as there is right now,” he said. "We’ve been raising the issue of the industry controlling its data for the last 15 years, but this is the biggest move I’ve ever seen. It’s very much a massive sign of the recent dissent [to fee changes] we’ve witnessed." Mr Tarbey said it's not happening in a "uniform way", dominated by the franchise groups, but it's more of a national shift, including individual agents at a grass-roots level. "I know about it because I get a national perspective, but I don't think the guys in Victoria would probably know that the guys in South Australia are doing something very similar,” he said. "It's all happening at the same time.” However, Mr Tarbey warned that organising real estate groups to collectively negotiate fees with listings sites could only be viewed as a stop-gap solution. “What are they going to do? Go to Domain or realestateview and still get charged?,” he asked. “Are they going to give someone else a monopoly and then in two years' time have the same problem? To me, it’s a temporary fix and won’t solve the problem." I also question how REA will be able to justify to its shareholders that they’re going to take a big hit if realestate.com.au needs to reduce its prices to do a deal with the newly-formed buying groups. "How does realestate.com.au justify going back to its shareholders with a story like that?". Here's a comment made from a fan of the page - Applaud the folks that put together the page Real Estate Agents Rebel - Enough Is Enough (pls like if you are a fellow agent) as a protest against realestate.com.au 's EXORBITANT and very regular increases which just go UP & UP (9000% since 2009 for a feature property) ! Talk about real estate being driven by greed! Real estate agents across Australia are held hostage by these companies with their super portals. Pls try to avoid using realestate.com.au for your property searches if you can - and use Domain or realestateview.com.au or realestate1.com.au. When we upload a property it goes on 10 different sites. So pls protest by not using them to do your searches or ultimately YOU will be doing yourself and real estate agents around the country a disservice (when you wish to sell) as we continually get hammered by these corporate bullies. OFF MY SOAPBOX Follow me on Twitter for more news, tips and inspiration. Become our chum on Facebook and explore my Pinterest boards.
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World’s First 3D-Printed House is Being Built In AmsterdamWhy build when you can print! The 3D printing revolution is almost at the point where there can be a printer in any home. But what about using a printer to build the house itself? The Dutch company DUS Architects is working on doing just that. They've developed a 3D printer 10 times the size of ordinary ones. It's called the KamerMaker, which means Room Builder, and they've built it out of a shipping container, with the goal to 3D print an entire house! Using bio-plastics, the on-site printer can create the pieces of a canal home that the firm is currently building as an experiment over the next few years. The bioplastic is created from rapeseeds, and can be ground down and reused as necessary. One aspect of construction they’re testing is the ability to reduce waste. The bio-plastic is based on rapeseeds, and if the manufactured piece is slightly out of spec, it can be ground up and reused. Also, because the pieces are all made on site, there’s less trial and error, and therefore fewer resources are wasted. Some think the on-site model will increase construction time but that’s all part of the experiment. The architectural firm is even thinking of other material possibilities, like a wood-based liquid that hardens into something like MDF, or biodegradable products that could be used for temporary structures, then melted back into the earth after a season. At the canal house, pieces ranging from around ten feet tall (which take a week to print) to room components with built-in furniture will be fitted together and filled with insulating concrete, creating not only a new building, but also the opportunity to learn how these revolutionary techniques can be best used on the building sites of tomorrow. A couple of decades ago, the very idea of robo-printing a house, or 3D-printed anything would have been considered science fiction; existing only in a Star Trek universe or similar. In just a few short years, the 3D printing industry has grown by leaps and bounds, and we’re currently seeing everything from 3D-printed food to prosthetic limbs, furniture items, and now even full-scale buildings. How has 3D printing impacted your own life? Please let us know in the comments section below! 3D-printing and scripting allows the builders to create designs that can easily be adapted to changing circumstances. Doing things for the first time keeps the world interesting. It helps us progress and discover, but there has to be someone who’s prepared to step over the edge. It takes courage to cross an ocean or set foot on the moon, but it also takes collaboration, ambition and effort. All around us people are doing things for the first time and wants to help them get there. We want to share their stories, because when technology and human endeavour come together, amazing things happen.
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