How BNI fulfills the 7th Habit By Bijay Rajnikantt Shah

July 8, 2014 12:18 am

Two Middle Eastern businessmen holding briefcases


In his book, The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, (listed by Time as one of the 25 Most Influential Business Management Books) Stephen R. Covey uses a Maturity Continuum moving progressively from dependence to independence to interdependence providing an incremental, sequential and highly integrated approach to the development of personal and interpersonal effectiveness.

Covey begins by sharing that as infants, all human beings start life by being totally dependent on others and then gradually as we mature we become more and more independent.  Dependent people need others to get what they want whilst independent people can get what they want through their own effort.

Covey goes on to introduce the paradigm of interdependence and shares that this is a far more mature, more advanced concept. Only people with an interdependent mindset realize how powerful it is to work together and accomplish far more then working independently. Good team players and great leaders embrace the concept of interdependence.

In the business world, there are certain ‘soft skills’ like sales; leadership; and customer service; which are not taught in colleges and universities. These institutions may award degrees and qualifications one can be proud of but they do not prepare anyone to actually perform out there on the ground. Good organizations recognize this and invest continuously to train their team members in these areas if they are to stay on top of the game.

In his book, Good to Great (another top 25 Business Management Book of all time) author Jim Collins states that the ‘right’ people are your most important asset and continuous training, learning and development are a must for every organization if they are to outperform their competitors.

Networking is one of those soft skills which is not taught in colleges or universities. All successful business icons from Richard Branson to Warren Buffet will vouch the importance of networking when it comes to business success. After all, these are leaders who value the paradigm of interdependence.

 According to Dr. Ivan Misner, the founder and chairman of the world’s largest business referral network, BNI, Networking can be defined as: “The process of developing and using your contacts to increase your business, enhance your knowledge, expand your sphere of influence or serve your community.”  This means, its all about building relationships, having a long-term vision and outlook and a value system based on ‘giving and serving’.

Unfortunately, in today’s society and with the demands of market conditions in certain instances, networking to many people is about compiling a huge database of names, usually by collecting business cards. Others see networking as the opportunity to get in front of people and personally prospect for business. Still others perceive networking as nothing more than schmoozing, with no specific intention except to be seen and socialize.

What BNI provides is a platform where like-minded business people can come together with a common objective to grow their businesses through referrals and a structured word-of-mouth system. It will only appeal to a minority few though as it does require a strong commitment and a farmer’s mindset as opposed to that of a hunter.

BNI’s guiding philosophy is ‘Givers Gain’ – what this means is that what goes round come around i.e. the best way to get something from someone is to help them get what they want. BNI members understand that to be successful with business networking, it is really about helping others as a way of growing your business. The people you help are more willing to help you or connect you to people they know. So in essence, networking is part of the process you go through to build a referral-based business. Through networking, you can deliver your positive message effectively. Referrals are the end result.

The opportunity a concept like BNI gives rise to, especially for beginners (both in networking and/or business) in markets like Qatar is the possibility to build a business based on word-of-mouth. In any case, businesses large and small will agree that referrals and word-of-mouth play a significant role in gaining quality new long-term business. What BNI offers to its members is a structure through which they can be assured they’ll receive a continuous flow of quality business through referrals based not on their status amongst the business community but more on their ethics, trust and confidence built over time.

Covey’s 7th Habit is ‘Sharpening the Saw’ and BNI offers just that – by surrounding yourself with like-minded positive people, all driven by a strong value system to ‘give and serve’ and permission to hold each other accountable.

As Qatar looks towards developing a strong SME sector for sustainable long-term growth and diversity away from Oil & Gas, there will be more and more opportunities for business people. Networking successfully will play a key part in leveraging from these opportunities. There is no better time then now to pro-actively engage in relationship building and network.

Furthermore, BNI and similar concepts will play an integral part in meeting some of the objectives set in Qatar’s National Vision 2030. One of these objectives is to strike a balance in the ratio and dependency on expatriate labour. By instilling entrepreneurship amongst the growing youth in the private sector, a sustainable long-term economic future can be attained.

About the Author

Bijay Rajnikantt Shah is the National Director for Business Network International (BNI) in the United Arab Emirates, and Co-National Director for BNI East Africa. Bijay has won numerous BNI CEO awards for outstanding performance and business excellence in 2006, 2008 and 2013.  He recently co-authored the book – ‘The World’s Best Known Marketing Secret’ which is an international bestseller


About the Author

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