Recently I went to a networking meeting of Business Networking International (BNI). This is a team of professionals who share their skills with other members of their group.
At each meeting, people sit at a round table and each member gives a one-minute speech on what they are doing now. This keeps the other members in the loop on what is going on. They start with the group coordinator and go around the circle to the last person.
Next, the group coordinator talks about events going on in other wheels, and other announcements. The leader of the chapter will also ask what recent new members can bring to the group. What have you done for us? (Like they are on probation and they need to show what they are bringing to the group.) For example, if you are an automobile mechanic they expect you to fix cars. You need to explain what you have been doing for the group. These actions are called gains.
People often do a one-on-one. For example, if you own a nursery, you might do landscaping for a member. An accountant might give tax training to established members.
Chapter Ambassadors offer to help people with their businesses. They are unpaid for this service. BNI focuses on members helping others and giving.
Then group coordinators introduce some guests that want to become new members. The group then gets to select who they want to come in.
Typically afterwards, you will have one or two established members give a long presentation. This one is over 15 minutes long and covers in depth what the presenter does.After the 15 min presentation is over, food is served, and people start talking to each other. They refer business to each other. Case in point, a realtor was chatting about a scientist from another country who wants to move to America.and needs an inmigration lawyer. Emphasis is on a community model where all professionals help each other out.
By using the wisdom of the crowd, you can learn a lot about your local community and what is going on. This gives you more opportunities to help associates that are in need.
Each team is kept small so that you know who is in it by name. With only 50 people in the wheel, each member can give every year one 15 min presentation where they describe what they are doing for the community in depth. While the presenter is showing slides, he will ask questions from the group. They involve others in the discussion. In fact, there is a question and answer session. Presenters ask questions of the other members, and they give answers. Contrawise, members can also ask the presenter some questions. This is similar to the Socratic method. There is a lot of give and take.
The reason BNI works is because people trust you. Most people would rather do business with a person they know. Strangers can take your money and run. However, in the BNI community they can kick you out if you scam other people.
Although there are some BNI chapters that are not this well organized, what I found at the BNI meeting was very positive, and I realized we Christians should incorporate these ideas into the church.
People can use these techniques to do God's work, which is to get His message out to the whole world. Networking is the key. Together we are a lot more effective.
For example, the typical model of a church is that parishioners go to a building and listen to a sermon. Donations allow a preacher to live and pay the up-keep of the church, but most members do not have any duties beyond listening quietly to a sermon, and neither do they have any say in church decisions. All the load rests on the shoulders of one person, the preacher. In the BNI model, all the members share that responsibility, the sermon is the 15 min presentation, the presenters use the Socratic method, and they bring presenters from other wheels.
As a powerful metaphor, think of a spider web. It may appear flimsy, but each strand of silk is five times stronger than steel. When it catches food for the spider, the weight is distributed over all the strands. There is not one strand doing all the work while the others watch. By using many silk strands working together, this gives the spider web its strength.
Distributing the workload could also help a church. By getting members to contribute their labor, donations can go toward spreading God's word, instead of paying workers. This is a great way to get people to do more. Also, we all benefit from a community where people help each other and try to practice what they preach. In fact, preachers should set the example by having productive day jobs and not be paid for their ministry work.
Many churches also make the mistake of being
Every single church member should become an active participant, rather than meat in a seat. Fact is, most religious leaders do not know who their flock consists of, let alone each individual. It is a collection of strangers who are apathetic and do not care.
What we need is for all members to get to know each other and create a closer group. Members should include the routine of one minute presentations in every church service. In this way, each person periodically exposes the other members to what is going on in their community. Also people inside the house of God may get professional help from fellow Christians, instead of total strangers that might rip them off.
Mostly, I feel that the BNI model is great because it makes all members become active participants or leave the group. In most churches nowadays, anonymity breeds immorality. What I mean is that in a large church with many members that do not know each other, many of them could be non-believers. We should have, among other tasks, the job of purging church of members that do not belong.
This happens in the BNI. If you do not produce, you are cast out.
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