The National Director of business referral organisation BNI praised his members in South Wales as the drivers of the local economy.
During a visit to Cardiff for a Beaujolais Day lunch at the Copthorne Hotel, Culverhouse Cross, BNI National Director Charlie Lawson said businesses in BNI are the lifeblood of their local economies. In South Wales, several Chapters do more than £1 million in business in a year, and one, the Burton Chapter in Neath, does more than £5 million in business.
Mr Lawson said:
“Our Chapters make an important contribution to the economy across the UK, including in South Wales.
“If a Chapter does £2 million of business in a year, you can typically value that to the economy at between £10 million and £14 million a year because the money gained by local businesses tends to be spent in the local economy.”
Fifty business people from across South Wales attended the lunch.
The speakers included Mr Lawson, motivational speaker, storyteller and business referral specialist Greg Davies, Cardiff-based entrepreneur Rhys Wynne, whose energy meter manufacturer and installation company UPL was bought for £14 million in 2013, and author and business consultant Jeremy Marchant, the owner of Emotional Intelligence at Work and Network Better.
Mr Lawson added:
“These social events are so important because they reflect one of the core values of BNI, which is establishing good relationships.
“Often, businesses within our Chapters see that Chapter as BNI, but there is also a whole worldwide network of Chapters available to them.
“I have just come back from the global convention in Thailand, and next year the convention will be held in Warsaw, so will be more accessible to businesses in the UK. I would urge all members to attend, if they can.
“We have seen people reach out to their competitors and start building relationships with them. Those relationships have led to them doing business together, either by referring on clients who are more suited to their area of expertise, or even by working together in partnership.”
Speaker Mr Davies told the story of how his BNI Chapter in London rallied round with help, advice, and fundraising when his mother was diagnosed with cancer and he faced running the business while caring for her and his family.
He added: “BNI is all about people working together.”
Mr Marchant advised business people to tell stories to be remembered, and to find out how to help other business people when they network.
Mr Wynne told the group how he had prepared his successful business for sale, passing on the lessons he learned in the process.
BNI South Wales owner Guy Griffiths said:
“This was the first Beaujolais Day event we have run and we plan to make it an annual event, passing on useful business tips and networking insights to our members.
“The members of BNI South Wales have passed more than £25 million in business in the last year alone, supporting the economy and helping to create and sustain local jobs. Our South Wales groups have passed more than £133 million in business since 2008.
“We are a referral organisation based on the principle that giver’s gain – if I give you business, you’re likely to want to give me business.
“Our Chapters are effective because they are focused on passing business and use the best marketing tool you can have, word of mouth. They also measure and verify the figures.”
Ben Underwood, the General Manager of the Copthorne Hotel, said:
“Supporting local businesses at events like these comes naturally to Millennium Hotels and the Copthorne Hotel. It’s something I believe in strongly personally, too.”
Cardiff and Newport-based charity Hybu, which trains young people in leadership and organises 1,000 voice choir concerts, was the official charity partner. Its founder Gill James is a member of BNI Intrepid based at the Copthorne Hotel.
More than £400 was raised for the charity during a raffle and the lunch delegates heard of the charity’s ambitious Beyond Words tour which will take the concerts across England and Wales – with dates in Cardiff, Liverpool, Derby, Wembley Arena, and Newcastle.
Ms James said:
“We are looking for sponsors for our concerts, which is a wonderful marketing opportunity for businesses. The concerts give them the chance to get in front of more than 30,000 people.”
Any businesses who want to sponsor the event can call her on 02920 373050.
Mr Lawson added:
“Charities do very well in BNI thanks to our referrals system. They need to raise revenue, like other businesses, but that goes into funding the good causes they represent.
“We would like to see a charity in every group, and more charities like Hybu getting involved with businesses. Many SME owners would like to help charities but don’t have the systems in place to go out and find those good causes.”
Any business interested in joining a BNI Chapter in South Wales can visit http://bni-southwales.com/en-GB/index.