BNI Attraction – Thursday Morning 6:45AM – 9:30AM at Coast Restaurant, Soho, Hong Kong
Even before 6:45AM the dedicated members of BNI Attraction started trickling into Coast for their weekly Thursday meeting. BNI, or Business Networking International, is the world’s largest referral generating networking organization, based on word of mouth strategies. Though meetings follow a structured agenda, this week’s meeting, hosted by Bonza Pie Coaching & Performance Consultancy, had a special focus on Social Media, as one of the over 40 events presented by Social Media Week Hong Kong.
The business community in Hong Kong is always looking for ways to reach out to the growing market in China, and social media is a practical, low cost way to reach out across the distance, if you can work with the Great Firewall and language barriers. Carrie Wong, a digital PR professional from Shanghai, shared some of her expertise on the social media landscape in China. SinaWeibo is clearly the largest social media platform in China, and would be the ideal first step for any company looking to establish a presence in there. However, to be effective, all content must be in Mandarin Chinese.
During her presentation, and the other 20 items of business efficiently handled, I was impressed by the clear dedication of the members of BNI to the overall goal of growing business for the individual members of the group, and the way they are held accountable to this goal. I spoke with some members of BNI after the event, and one of the founders said the benefit of being a part of BNI is like hiring a marketing department of 20 for your company. She helped found the organization about eight years ago and is still an active member today.
Another member of BNI said that in her opinion, the required one on one meetings between each and every member has been one of the most valuable parts of the organization because you really get a sense of how you can help each other grow your respective businesses.
The BNI meeting was much more structured than a lot of the Social Media Week Hong Kong events, but it was a valuable addition. It shows small companies or start-ups how they can efficiently market themselves on a shoe string budget and provides them with continuing professional education. I just wish I had known where the coffee was before the meeting started!
Anne Gillman, an associate with Hamilton Advisors, was a volunteer blogger for many of the the 2012 Social Media Week events in Hong Kong.