Stafford hosts BNI’s first online only networking group as Executive Director Tony Altham outlines plans to bounce back stronger after lockdown

Staffordshire’s first online BNI networking group has been launched – and more will follow as the leading networking organisation responds to the pandemic recovery.

Having attracted 10 members in a matter of weeks, BNI Executive Director Tony Altham is predicting rapid growth for BNI Samurai (Stafford).

BNI is the world’s largest referral marketing organisation. Members meet in chapters weekly and champion each other’s businesses. Strength in numbers leads to business being done, with BNI members in Staffordshire generating £10 million in invoiced referrals in 2019.

All groups are currently run via BNI’s dedicated, secure Zoom platform due to Covid-19. However, once Government restrictions on hospitality are relaxed, BNI will be discussing how best to return to face to face meetings.

However, BNI Samurai has been specifically launched as an online only group and will continue operating via Zoom.

“We’re pleased by how the group is going and we’re confident there’ll soon be enough members to ensure a vibrant group who can regularly refer business and add to wealth generation in Staffordshire,” said Tony.

He said although international restrictions had initially been a challenge for many businesses, BNI very quickly implemented an effective online meeting solution for all its 270,000  around the World.  Business networking was traditionally always face to face in hotel venues, however, Tony added: “Now we have the vaccine roll out, discussions are being held about how best to move forward for all our members. This could mean either full in-person weekly meetings or a blend of online and face to face networking. Decisions have yet to be made.

“Many will always want to meet face to face as that is how business is traditionally done. But one thing that the last year has proven is that there’s also many benefits to online solutions too, for example, some of our members in Staffordshire, have Zoomed in to meetings across the UK and internationally, from their home offices. There’s no time lost due to travel or money spent on fuel, refreshments and room fees.”

BNI Samurai is completely new for our Staffordshire network. It has been launched as a mid-morning group for companies in the Stafford area and, while people can Zoom in as guests from other locations, we think there’s still much value in having it grounded in a location as to maximise their membership we’d encourage one to one business meetings and occasional face to face social events.  More online groups will be launched across the county in the months ahead.”

The group meets at 9.45am every Friday morning.



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