IN THIS day and age, it may not be enough to just be good. A successful entrepreneur must be both competent and have a wide network of contacts so that his business can grow through word-of-mouth and personal recommendations.
Just last month, a group of entrepreneurs came together under the banner of Business Network International (BNI) to elevate business networking to yet another level by unveiling the Miracle Chapter, the largest ever in South-East Asia, with 108 members by July 24.
This qualifies Miracle as a Diamond Chapter, making it the sole Diamond Achiever in South-East Asia, while the other eight diamond-level chapters are outside of the region.
A chapter needs to launch with at least 100 members to hit diamond status, and the Miracle Chapter’s achievement is astounding considering there are already 82 chapters in Malaysia.
An international movement, BNI is targeted at small and medium enterprises (SMEs), which form the backbone of the Malaysian economy.
BNI has been operating in Malaysia for the last 19 years, and has gained more than 3, 400 members. Impact wise, BNI Malaysia has helped more than 5, 000 companies to grow their business and in the last 12 months ending in May 2019, recorded over RM850mil’s worth of transactions.
The event was aimed at connecting current and potential members to hundreds of other entrepreneurs and SMEs that were seeking collaborative business opportunities.
“What makes this feat truly amazing is that chapter members are coming together to achieve this ambitious target, to collaboratively grow their business as a unified force, ” says Marcus Hwang, BNI Malaysia’s National Director, who adds that the global BNI community currently stands at 9, 125 chapters.
A chapter with 102 members is expected to translate into 5, 151 possible connections amongst members.
“Our leadership team is guided by the ‘Givers Gain’ philosophy, and we are very passionate about creating an outstanding culture that promotes collaboration and cooperation, ” says Hwang, who argues that BNI’s ability to tap into high quality connections without having to invest in huge budgets sets it apart from other forms of business networking.
BNI has a policy of one member per classification in a chapter which provides the benefit of exclusivity. For example, you will not find two conveyancing lawyers in the same chapter.
“We are the only networking organisation where members help each other grow their businesses through referrals and without giving commission upon closing, ” says Hwang.
The Miracle Chapter would not have been possible if not for the vision of Facebook marketing guru Marcus Teoh, who co-founded the chapter with Adi Afendi. Teoh is also an author, while Adi has made a name for himself as an award-winning international emcee.
According to Teoh, the BNI Miracle chapter was formed with the vision that will make it stand out in South-East Asia.
“We are here to break the world record for the largest chapter, which is currently held by chapters in India, China and Hong Kong, ” says Teoh, author of the acclaimed Now of Never, a book published in 2017 to help budding entrepreneurs.
“We want to put Malaysia on the map as a regional hub for SMEs to connect internationally and locally, ” says Teoh, adding that the Miracle Chapter needs to get 139 members on board to create the world record as the largest BNI chapter ever.
Founded in 1985 by Dr Ivan Misner, the mission of BNI is to help members increase their business through a structured, positive and professional referral marketing programme that enables them to develop long-term, meaningful relationships with quality business professionals. It operates in 73 countries with 258, 419 members in 9, 125 chapters worldwide,
BNI touts itself as the world’s leading referral organisation. In the last 12 months ending May 2019, BNI member referrals are said to have generated USD$16bil (RM66.5bil) in revenue for its member businesses.
Based on the idea that “givers gain”, members of any BNI chapter are able to tap into the personal networks of other members to generate business opportunities.
”All of us at Miracle have pledged to provide support for fellow business owners, with members coming together to share experiences and a helping hand if needed, ” says Adi.
To make its presence and impact felt, the management of Miracle Chapter will be “driving” its members hard.
“As a new and dynamic chapter, we will be upholding higher monitoring standards compared to other chapters. We will diligently evaluate every member’s contribution towards the growth of business and the chapter, as our vision is not just about growing members’ business within Malaysia, but also taking them internationally, ” say Teoh and Adi.