BNI Lancashire polls members after £13m lockdown

BNI is polling its Lancashire members about returning to live networking after generating over £13m of business in the county between the key dates of the Covid-19 pandemic.

Established over 30 years, BNI has around 240,000 members in over 70 countries worldwide. It works by organising weekly networking meetings for groups of businesses. Groups, known as chapters, use their combined network of contacts to find business opportunities and referrals for one another, to a specific brief that members outline at every meeting.

At the start of the global pandemic, BNI globally closed all meetings for one week to provide member training for online meetings, then reopened purely on Zoom the following week. Since then, all meetings worldwide have been conducted on Zoom, still following the same structured agenda.

Between 23rd March 2020 and 19th July 2021, members of the 12 BNI chapters in Lancashire conducted over 13,000 business meetings on Zoom and tracked over 17,000 business referrals which resulted in £13.3m of invoiced business.

As lockdown is eased in the UK, BNI is currently polling members to decide, on a chapter-by-chapter basis, if they want to return to face-to-face meetings or to continue networking online.

BNI Lancashire chief happiness officer Liam Mulligan said: “I’ll be honest, we are quite astounded by the figures BNI in Lancashire has achieved through the period the world has just gone through. What’s even more amazing is how many new members we have, contributing to these figures, who have never met anyone in their chapter in real life.

“If you had suggested before the pandemic that people could build relationships strong enough to provide business referrals for one another, without ever meeting face-to-face, no one would believe it. But many of our members have said they have felt the weekly contact with likeminded businesspeople the meetings provide has been a lifeline during the pandemic and we have seen some fantastic relationships formed.

“As well as the phenomenal amount of business passed amongst the existing chapters, we’ve actually launched four new chapters as core groups in the last few months, which will start monitoring referral and business statistics when they go live.

“With the UK moving out of the lockdown, we are currently polling all our members in the region on their feelings about the return to live meetings, though member safety will always remain the top priority, and we will base any future decisions on both the poll results and Government advice and regulations ongoing.”

For more information about BNI in Lancashire, go to www.bni.co.uk.