There were a fair number networking groups around when I started BNI in 1985. However, they were either really mercenary or too social. I knew the only way BNI could stand out as a networking organization is by having a genuine focus on giving first and getting second.
Years ago, a brand new BNI member shared with his local BNI Director that he had just had an epiphany. “You know,” he said, “this whole concept of Givers Gain, and helping other businesses so they help you, it’s a little bit like taking off your bib and putting on an apron. I have lived my professional career trying to find ways to close deals and get what I want in business by having others help me. I think I’ve missed the point. Networking is really about trying to find ways to help other people. You take off that bib and put on an apron, you help others and they will help you.”
When I started BNI, I focused the meetings on building relationships by helping others first and that’s what the philosophy “Givers Gain” is all about. This philosophy is a standard that we should all apply to ourselves and how we behave with other people, not a stick we use to get someone to do something we think they should be doing. If you bring in other people into your network who embrace and employ this core value, you will create an amazing and powerful network. Therefore, take off that bib and put on an apron!