How BNI Referral Exchange Can Help Your Business!

How BNI Referral Exchange Will Work Wonders For Your Business

I recently had a conversation with a new business owner who just couldn’t figure out how to get new people through the door, how to build her clientele, and start getting more referrals for her business.


It’s a tough go out there for any new business. You can build the shop and products, websites, and Social Media pages, blogs, local promotions, engage clients online – but it comes down to this. How do you get them through the door and buying? 

Being a new arrival in Australia and not knowing anyone upon arrival here was a tough go. Not only was I just starting out – building my portfolio, trying to figure out what my demographic is, what my business looked like (that will be a moving target forever), I had to find people who were in need of my services! So I took the plunge and joined a newly minted BNI Group in my regional area.

What is BNI?

BNI is a business networking organisation with 6,600 active chapters and 160,000 members in 50 countries, it is the most successful business referral organisation of its kind.

Now before you think Im getting all sales pitchy on you, I want to tell you where I was before BNI, and where I am after.

What is Referral Networking?

Let’s start off with what Referral Networking is and how I think it is ABSOLUTELY essential for any and all businesses. Even the old guys have to admit that thier business comes from referral network. People who know you, and refer you to others. It’s based on a relationship of trust and knowledge of your business…they are advocates for you. You are top of mind when they hear someone needs new Headshots, Family portraits etc.In laymans terms its word of mouth. 

When I joined BNI last year, I had VERY few clients, and those that I did have were mostly my friends, but what I did have was a solid idea of who my target audience was, a strong brand, and a desire to help people. In BNI the buzz phrase is ‘Givers Gain‘ and that in essence is how it works. If I give you business, you will return that to me. Now this is not 100% of course. Some people you have synergy with and some you don’t. Such is life. But when we spend time together, getting to know about each others businesses, forging bonds, then there is definitely a top of mind attitude that brings business to you.

The Way It Works

BNI have chapters all over the world. In fact I guarantee there is one in your area. The difference with other networking groups is that each chapter only has 1 person per profession available in each chapter: 1 photographer, 1 mortgage specialist, one coach, 1 plumber, 1 real estate agent etc. By joining you get to lock out your category, and you now have a group of 20-50 members referring their business over to you along with the extended networks they bring to the table. Voila. Pretty much instant business. Your mission if you choose to accept it is to do your weekly 1-2-1 meetings getting to intimately know the other members businesses so that next time you are chatting away at the office, dinner party ect, you have a GREAT accountant that you can recommend and pass potential business to. Thats the Give. Other members are obviously in the same space so you are getting passed business as well from the other members. Do your 1-2-1’s. You are receiving business from other members at the table. You will also have 10-15 visitors at your chapters meeting every week that you have the opportunity to talk to. Every week! It’s your responsibility to see where the opportunities lie. The more effort you put in, the more you can get out of it. There’s the Gain

HeadHunters Headshots MelbourneWhy It works

Taking the time to understand your other members businesses is a lot of time and effort. You meet once a week for BNI, for 1.5 hrs, but then there is the time outside that meeting where you are meeting and keeping in contact with all the other members. Its time consuming – yes- but you are carefully building a network that is passing you business all the time. Nurture, is the key here. You are creating relationships that will feed and grow your business. And believe me, it’s worth it. You could expect that 50-75% of your business come from BNI when you are fully engaged in the process. You will find power teams like Finance & Real Estate, Creative Networks of Web Devs and graphics, Tradies, beauty, coaches and fitness and on. You may find that most of your referrals come from 2-3 members, and that the ones that pass you referrals aren’t necessarily the ones that you pass to, but there will be flow and you will recognise who your greatest proponents are.

Networking & Skills Development

I can’t speak highly enough about how much I have learned and grown as a person and a business through BNI referral exchange over this last year.  I have perfected my elevator pitch (aka Sales Moment), public speaking ability, Networking skills, business acumen thanks to all the great advice, financial flexibility, creative teams I work with…the list goes on. The members are inspirational, I have a fabulous group of new friends and colleagues, and I am weekly pushed out of my comfort zone to grow myself and business. There is also an immense amount of training that goes into its members weekly, monthly, yearly and via the BNI website, Chapter Building Sessions, and the organisation itself that refers members all over the world.

BNI referral exchange is the best networking group that I have ever participated in. And I’ve done many. In fact, I am involved in another 5-10 groups at any given time. But they have difference focuses, more women based, more association based, locally, internationally, speaker and education based, and they all have their merits. But for putting dollars into my pocket, there is no comparison. It’s BNI all the way.

And hey, if there isn’t a chapter near you, START one yourself. There will be regional BNI referral exchange facilitators that can help you forge the waters, start a new group if your category is locked down in the closest group, or travel to find business outside of your area locally…its a great way to do business and it WILL make a big difference in your bottom line.

Good luck and go and Pay it Forward!



iPhoneography for your Business – Part I

mobile ready web Head-Hunters Business & Corporate Images Photography

Using your smart phone for business is not only a necessity these days, but can be a great way to initiate business, connect, engage and market. This iPhoneography series is going help you ‘create’ conversations with the flick of a finger.


You have a very powerful phone under those fingertips of yours. Im going to give you some PRO tips to really maximise your images, create stunning imagery for your potential clients and help you engage them more often. Give them what they want and keep them on the hook. In this 3 Part Series I’m going to teach you how maximise your smartphone, image making, post production and marketing. 3…2…1…GO!

(quick disclaimer – this is geared towards iPhone users, but is applicable to ANY smartphone – so stay tunes Galaxy and Google users!

Here are technicals on your phone – all good things to know about using your iPhone 5

Your phone has a WHOPPING 8 megapixels, front facing camera. Thats about what most professionals used to use use 5-7 years ago with their fancy DSLRs. It takes amazing pictures to be sure.


In fact I recently saw a comparison between a medium format camera and the iphone and I have to say that I could barely tell the difference. Check out this comparison of an iPhone vs a Hasselblad over here at

Now the other thing worthy noting here is that your Front Facing camera (for FaceTime and selfies) is only 1.2 Megapixels…so you know which one is going to be better now. And for the geeks out there – (you know who you are) the aperature is 2.4. Pretty amazing…but we’ll get onto that later.

Social Media Image Use Statistics

headHunters Social Media Ok its number time…INSANE Number time to be exact. Any question as to HOW many people are using images now and how the big brands are asserting their marketing dominance in images?

  • Twitter: 58 Million tweets per day / Now you can add up to 6 images per tweet  to reach out to those 650 Million users
  • Facebook: 350 Million photo/day (48% users share ‘selfies’)
  • Instagram: 60 million photos per day @1.6 Billion likes. Brands Nike, Starbucks, NBA. 50 Top brands have 1.5 Million viewers.


 So What Your Phone can do now?Headhunters_iPhone

Here are a few things that you may or may not know – Give them a try!

  • You can swipe to open from lock screen
  • Turn on Grid View (Settings/Photo&Camera/Grid Slider on). This will come in handy when you are trying to figure out what the heck the ‘Rule of Thirds’ is later on in this tutorial
  • Use hort burst mode by holding your finger DOWN on the camera button and listen for the glorious artifical clicking sound to rattle off. Watch out. These pictures will EAT up your memory fast so remember to delete them as you go.
  • Set Focus and Exposure (tapping) (moving to lower light and back up – foreground & background choice)
  • Lock the Focus and Exposure (AE/AF Lock yellow image will appear at top of screen)
  • Try the HDR Photo (High Dynamic Range – takes the lightest parts and merges them with the darkest so you get ALL the detail of the image) Be careful about the Auto On/Off feature of this. Otherwise you will be snapping 2 pictures EVERY time you use your camera.
  • Did you know that you can take photos with volume buttons – comes in handy for those selfies!
  • Take secret photos with using your headphones as a shutter release button! Give THAT a try!
  • Geotagging  – pretty cool feature where you add the GPS information into your images so that later you can give up your complete Privacy about where you’ve been (or let Big Brother follow you around).


Image Orientation

Headhunters_heashotsHeadHunters Photography - Nikki Ellis-5 HeadHunters_Headshots Melbourne panorama

  1. Portrait
  2. Landscape
  3. Square (Instagram)
  4. Panorma

So you have many options for orientation on your phone. Choose what works best for the image and composition. Zoom with your feet. Leave cropping as a last option!

So there you have it. Part I of iPhoneography…Now you know what your iPhone camera  is capable of…next down the line are Photography Design Elements. This is where we REALLY dig into creating great pictures…Then to top it all off is the final “Piece de Resistance”, APP an post production awesomeness! See you soon, and get that phone out at least ONCE today and post something to your Social Media Pages! Engagement is the KEY!

Top Tips for Selfies

2013 was proclaimed the year of the Selfie. So Let’s learn how DO IT RIGHT!

Headhunters Headshot melbourneHere are my Top Tips for the perfect selfie

  • Ladies- Pump up the volume on your hair
  • Hold your phone above your head @ 45 degrees FOR look slimmer & trimmer YOU
  • Forget the lip pucker. You are not Kim Kardashian.
  • Leave your tongue out of it. You are not Miley Cyrus
  • Watch out for your background. You don’t want to be upstaged.
  • Use a filter APP to wash out the lines after a hard night of night clubbing



So use the  selfie for your Facebook profile but leave your website, blog,  and LinkedIn to the professionals. Your first impression is everything and part of your personal brand, so make the best out of it!