Networking with local businesses has been an important part of building the web design part of our business over the past eight years. As part of this approach I joined a local BNI Chapter recently.
The BNI (Business Network International) is designed to encourage business by regularly passing referrals, mainly between the members of local groups called Chapters.
Each meeting runs according to an agenda with a set number of items and steps. Although this may sound a bit dry and regimented it can still be run with a relaxed but professional approach, which is what we manage to do at our Chapter. Consequently, although we are one of the smaller groups in our area we are managing to punch above our weight and generate a good amount of business.
One of the agenda items is the opportunity for each business representative to stand up and give a 60 second presentation about their company, talk about the business they are looking for and how the Chapter members may be able to help them.
To keep us on our toes and as a bit of fun a gold statuette is awarded each week for the best presentation, the winner being decided by the previous week’s winner. Inevitably the statuette has become known as the Oscar.
Usually I have a clear idea about the topic of my presentation each week, but last Thursday morning I arrived at the venue in two minds as to what to speak about. Upon entering the building I met other Chapter members and signed in.
As I did so others were remarking on a coloured plastic overlay that one of the members was holding against a sheet of text. He was explaining that this simple sheet helped him with his dyslexia, making the text easier to read.
I have encountered this effect before, first when I was in teaching and some of the pupils used coloured overlays to improve their reading, and secondly when we built a website for people with Irlen syndrome. Noting how others in the Chapter had never heard of this before I decided to make it the topic of my 60 second presentation and mentioned the work we had done and the experience we had in building a dyslexia and Irlen syndrome friendly website.
What I had not realised was that the member with the plastic overlay was the previous week’s Oscar winner and when it came to awarding it this time he decided to give it to me. Simply because I had decided to speak on a topic that had personal relevance to him.
It wasn’t until later that I realised I had simply followed a basic marketing principle that you need to put into practice if you want to be successful: Find out what matters to your market and make what you do relevant to those concerns.
Now all I need to do is keep my eyes and ears open for the concerns of the other BNI members and maybe I’ll get my hands on that Oscar again!