How blogging changed me and my business
Off Jazzing ;-)

My Blogging Metaphor: BNI

This Monday (Bank holiday) I read one of the best publications on how to describe a blog and/or blogging to non-bloggers by Char on Essential Keystrokes : How do you explain blogging to your mom. (using the metaphor of a farmers-market)
That post prompted Liz Strauss to instigate a group writing project: Blogging Metaphors
(I'm starting to become a greater fan of group writing projects than of tag-meme's)

My metaphor is BNI (Business Network International) and especially the experiences I have weekly at the BNI-Ashford chapter. I've chosen this metaphor for two reasons really: to explain that blogs are for everyone and to explain how a blog works best.

Some businesses associate a business network like BNI as something you can only become a member of when you have a medium to large business. Not for start-ups, one-man-bands or small companies. They think that when you're not part of 'the old boys club' you will be shunted, laughed at, ignored by the 'old-boys'. They fear that when they - as small business - do join no referrals (work - contacts) will come their way.

Nothing could be further from the truth: network organisations know that anyone, really anyone - small, medium, large - can bring the most meaningful contribution to the breakfast table. Size doesn't matter; nor the industry, trade or type of profession for that matter.

Blogging is for everyone: small, medium, large - webdesigner, marketing expert, retailer, writer, moms at home, dads at home; the list is endless.

Now I come to the second part of my metaphor: how 'it' works best.

Other businesses are staying away from network organisation (or leave pretty quickly) because they think it's not worth it, there's 'no-profit' in it (now, read profit in the widest possible meaning, not just money). Main reason behind this mind-set: it will take me forever to recoup my investment of the membership fee. Or: I am a member so I am here first to take any business you can give me, then I start thinking about giving you some business and are amazed that no work or new contacts are coming their way. 

That's not how real networkers at BNI work. Real BNI networkers start first by listening to you: what do you do, what products do you supply, what services do you provide?
Second thing real BNI networkers do is ask questions: what type of referrals are you looking for, what contacts in my book would be helpful for your business? How can I contribute to your business?

And at first you talk (passionate we hope) about your business, what you do, where you want to 'grow' to, where your interests are. And you listening to your fellow members the same way they listen to you.
Then you interact on the questions asked. And you interact with the other members by asking questions, by contributing to their businesses. Then the whole network grows almost automagically, growing ever stronger. And so will your business, as whole and fully contributing member of that sharing network. Givers gain.

And that is IMHO how blogging (web-publishing) works best and becomes most profitable (read most number of interactive readers or even best way to monetise your blog): by the (passionate) content of your posts, by your interaction with your readers who comment and by your contributions on other blogs.

Contributions to and fro, passionate, freely and willingly, that's my experience - both in and on blogs and in BNI Ashford - what makes this essential to do as a business (or individual).

(synchronicity is playing-up again: Adam - Monk at Work - talked about "The Power of contribution" only yesterday!)


Liz Strauss

You've scored the tops with this one by following your own advice -- great content by a blogger who has been interacting getting other bloggers to join in all week while we were talking about humility and other subjects. Wow!

Dawud Miracle

I have to completely agree with your point on how blogging becomes profitable. I'm reminded constantly that people want to do business with people and the blog is about having the conversation with people.

Loved your post.

Stuart Baker

Karin, I think your metaphor is right-on. The same endless spirit of giving and sharing is there.

As they say around Boston, "Ya dun good."

Karin H.

Dear Liz, Dawud and Stuart

What kind comments you all write. Networking - like blogging - is all about conversations and meeting, engaging with 'new' people to become 'richer' in the widest possible meaning of the word. So the metaphor (for a 'network-addict' like me) was the most obvious for me.

Karin H.

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