It was only three months into his mortgage broking career – back in late 2007 - when Andrew Skinner first heard about Business Networking International – or BNI.
“I got involved through a client,” he says. “The client had a relatively new business as well, and he started telling me about BNI and within three months a position had come up.”
A broker with Aussie Home Loans in Hampstead Gardens in Adelaide, Skinner says BNI meetings have become a regular part of his Friday morning routine ever since.
And the results are impressive. Though admittedly a large time commitment per week, Skinner says meetings yield quantifiable business – a reason he keeps coming back.
“It was hard to start with, but it has become part of my routine. I’d feel strange if I got up on a Friday morning now and didn’t go to a meeting. The leads have been something that have grown and grown. On average I get a good half a dozen well-qualified leads on a monthly basis, and while dollar value is up and down, from that perspective it does cover the time.”
For Skinner, the formalised structure of the referral meetings – as well as everybody being in the room for the same business building purpose – was a good reason to join the group.
And he says it is a complement to Aussie’s ‘big brand’ marketing. “Being with Aussie, whatever I may do is like a drop in the ocean, so I like to promote myself locally,” he explains. “When I got to BNI meetings, I talk more about my personal experiences and what I do as opposed to the brand I work with, as I don’t need to push that,” he said.
Skinner says he has managed to build solid referral relationships with a ‘core group’ of local BNI members, including an investment property dealer and IT professionals.
He recommends any broker not involved in a local BNI chapter should consider joining.
“The mortgage broking seat is one of the seats most quickly filled, so it may be a struggle to find a lot of chapters that don’t have one,” he said. “But I’d recommend checking it out to see what they think. I’m sure all brokers have been to a networking function, but the difference with BNI is the format, which is structured and professional,” he says.