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This Community is Helping Entrepreneurs Boost Their Networking Skills This Network is helping entrepreneurs, who are facing difficulty in scaling business but have the fire in their bellies to grow, on its diversified platform.

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BNI Network

A particular trait common to almost all entrepreneurs, who have tasted meteoric success, is their excellent networking skills that allow them to go full throttle in promoting their models in the dynamic world of business.

An entrepreneur's journey is fraught with difficulties and challenges, and more often than not he/she seeks guidance and mentorship of experienced players in the market.

Realizing mentorship exigencies in the business world, a group of management and business consultants laid the foundation of a platform, to bridge the gap between entrepreneurs and business consultants.

Driven by "givers' gain' motto, referral-based networking-cum-mutual benefit platform BNI Network is helping entrepreneurs, who are facing difficulty in scaling business but have the fire in their bellies to grow, on its diversified platform.

Headquartered in the US, the organization is providing network training to entrepreneurs.

Striking the right chord in the business community, the network has opened 20 groups within a year of its legal incorporation.

The 30-year-old organization allows only one person from each trade or profession to join a chapter. And, each chapter promotes the business of other members. Currently, the network runs 7,000 chapters in more than 70 countries across the world.

"By providing network training, we teach entrepreneurs to give referrals and spot opportunities," said Mac Srinivasan, President of BNI India, APAC region.

BNI India was set up in 2004 and since then it has grown to have over 14,100 members onboard with 311 Chapters operating in 28 cities, as per a media report. A large number of entrepreneurs from India are connected to the network to explore opportunities and showcase their businesses or services.

A host of SMEs and also start-ups have approached the group, seeking help for development and for the exchange of business referrals.

"Exchanging Quality Business Referrals'

The networking platform is eliminating stumbling blocks on the path of entrepreneurs. Srinivasan is extremely particular about the kind of clients his company deals with.

He said, "BNI is for any small and medium scale enterprise. It gives early established players an opportunity to connect with others in the market."

Srinivasan categorically mentioned that BNI is not a funding company. "In BNI, we only open doors of opportunities for entrepreneurs."

Srinivasan quipped when asked why entrepreneurs should join the community.

"It's never the money decision for an entrepreneur to join us. It's the time decision. It depends on how hungry you are in growing your business," he stressed. The organization is also helping a lot of women entrepreneurs, who aim to turn their small businesses into iconic ones. Lots of Indian women running small business have also approached the network.

"Start-ups can Bootstrap and Raise Funds in Less Time'

Srinivasan said, "BNI is helping start-ups function seamlessly, by maintaining a cash flow within 18 months. Normally, it takes three years for a brand to stabilize and get noticed in the market. The network is also doing the needful for early established players to expand and go global."

"We don't fund start-ups per se. But we are definitely a platform where start-ups can bootstrap and raise funds in less time."

BNI is a forum for entrepreneurs, Srinivasan emphasized.

Why Should an Entrepreneur Join this Community?

"A smart entrepreneur is the one who is connected with people in several places at the same time. An entrepreneur needs a vehicle to multiply the revenue figures. And we help them with that," said Srinivasan.

The organization charges INR 30,000 for the membership. But, entrepreneurs gain a great Return on Investment (ROI), he stressed.

The company insists entrepreneurs to work on their innate abilities to make a mark in the market. "There is a large pool of entrepreneurs worldwide and we believe one shouldn't be lost in the masses," signed off Srinivasan.

The company chooses companies that hold certain credibility in the market.

Their criterion to join the network is networking. Srinivasan said, "Somebody from the network should invite you. You cannot walk in through the doors."

"I was introduced to the group by my business connections," he recalled.

"You need to have some credibility to be a BNI member," he asserted.

(Interview by Aashika Jain)

Komal Nathani & Aashika Jain

Entrepreneur India

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