A Journey Worth a Decade...Thank You BNI!
I joined Business Network International, BNI in 2012 when it had just launched in Telangana. In fact, BNI Artha was the first chapter in Telangana. Back then I was an introvert. To be interacting with so many members in a community was hard for me. But as I started talking to people from various domains, industries, walks of life and businesses, I began seeing the big picture of entrepreneurship.The members were very giving, ever charged to help each other and responsibly so. They made me realize, when you give without any (monetary) expectations, you tend to get help in unexpected ways when you need it the most. Referrals are one of the key drivers in BNI. Regardless of the business turnover or size, members are forthcoming to help each other. Its presence all over India and across the globe, is proof if it’s successful model. And they cater to pretty much all industries and domains of businesses. For people exploring the world of entrepreneurship & startups, BNI acts like water and sunlight to the soil. So, the seed is bound to flourish someday into tree.Also, when you meet members week after week, you grow in trust. When you do a business transaction with a member, you understand their ethics, moral compass, like-mindedness etc. People who seek shortcuts in business, don’t sustain in BNI, since trust is non-negotiable here.My journey at BNI, which began about ten years back, ended on 5-July 2022. It has been a thoroughly enjoyable ride.Among the many things I have learnt, here are a few key lessons:1. Be selfless in giving - Ideas, help, references that can help people around you will always add to your goodwill. And goodwill is key to building trust.2. Going beyond your comfort zone – BNI members go much beyond their call of duty, often helping each other with their personal, medical and several other non-business needs.‘Let your faith be stronger than your fears’ - this ideal got cemented during my stint with BNI.3. All my major business decisions in the past few years are because of the experience and friends that I’ve met at BNI. Especially, Power Team, which is groups of peers in similar businesses who complement each other in growing. My Power Team helped me take many wise decisions. Even in pressing situations, like this time when I remembered at midnight that I needed to get visiting cards made before taking a flight early morning for crucial business meeting, and somehow, BNI members made it happen!4. The untimely demise of Mr. Bharat Shah, the founder of BNI - Everyone who knew Bharat Bhai remembers him fondly as a great believer in the power of giving. I’ve heard many stories of his helpful nature. A few years back, after his demise, his daughter Sanjana Shah took over reigns, becoming the Executive Director of BNI. It’s a big ask, having to manage over 2000 members in Hyderabad & over 40 BNI groups. But this dynamic young lady had learnt well from her father. She has been a transformation – a classic example of woman power in entrepreneurship, of gender neutrality. I take a lot of inspiration from her.Now you might say, if everything was so good, why did I quit BNI?I feel whatever lessons I needed to learn here; I have, over the past decade. BNI has nourished my life in more ways than one and I am eternally grateful for them.But after having taken the journey – of experiential living, uncluttered lifestyle, minimalism, learning new things – business has become a by-product of life now.Business is for me, a source of sustenance and wealth creation.I want to keep my mind free from too many routines, noises around, whether it’s from business, social obligations, owning too many things, phone notifications & calls – pretty much everything that takes me off my path. So, I realized that BNI is also something I will need to give up in the larger interest of my life. But I continue to hold a great relationship with its members and still route most of my business requirements through them. This is because of the undeterred faith I have in BNI.While my journey continues, I wish to take this opportunity to thank BNI for supporting the last decade of my journey.Signing off, Meraqee Praveen.0