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Networking group reaches milestone

Local chapter of Business Networking International celebrates $2 million generated solely from refer

Posted: October 2, 2012 2:00 a.m.
Updated: October 2, 2012 2:00 a.m.

A local networking group announced it reached a milestone last month when it achieved $2 million in referral business for its members.

BNI or Business Networking International, Nitro chapter, representing all types of Santa Clarita and Antelope Valley business owners, generated $2 million in business for its members solely on referrals, said Vance Weaver, outgoing president for the local chapter.

Since the local chapter first opened, it took the members five years to generate the first million dollars, which they did by 2009, Weaver said. It then took less than three years to generate the second million dollars.

“And last month, we had an excellent month,” Weaver said. “Over $90,000 in business was generated by the group.”

An organization with worldwide reach, BNI groups are structured networking groups designed to build and track business the groups attracts for its members. Last year alone, the organization reported its members’ passes on 6.5 million referrals, which represented more than $2.9 billion worth of business in the United States alone.

But chapters meetings are unlike your average social mixer or networking meetings, Weaver said.

“We’re very much about quality referrals, not just leads,” Weaver said. “The referrals don’t mean it’s a done deal, but there’s a very good percentage that it’s going to be a sale.”

Members turn in written referral slips if they believe a lead will turn into an actual sale for another member of the networking group, he said. The numbers of referrals members give and receive are tracked, as well as how much money each referral generated in business for a member.

Attendance is mandatory and if a member can’t make one of the group meetings, a proxy is found, Weaver said. The BNI networking model is also exclusive — only allowing one person per profession to join a chapter.

Weaver, who runs a Santa Clarita handyman and executive painting business, said when he first joined the local BNI chapter, he doubled his business. A member of BNI for eight years now, he started the painting business with a partner, and while he does not attribute all of his success to the networking group, Weaver does say that a large portion of his business came from the quality referrals.

“When I joined the group, I started out eating fast food,” he said. “It really changed everything. I wasn’t getting the good work until then. This was a total no-brainer for me.”

The local chapter has a list of some 74 businesses it believes would benefit by joining BNI, Weaver said. On a personal level, he would also like to see some other trades people join the local chapter.

The category protected networking model is part of the success for each of the members in BNI, because members aren’t competing with each other for business, he said.

In speaking with other networking groups, Weaver said some have generated $30,000 in business for members in a year. BNI turns that much business in, and more, in a month, he said. The group originally projected hitting the $2 million December or January

“I’ve visited a lot of other networking groups in town,” Weaver said. “I haven’t really seen another group that has turned in as much money in referrals as we have.”

The BNI Nitro chapter meets every week at the Courtyard by Marriott every Wednesday at 7:30 a.m. More information can be found online at or by calling Trish Kropp at 661-388-0264.



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