I was at a networking meeting some weeks ago and I met someone who is also a member of BNI. He wondered how I was finding it and when I mentioned that I was finding the infinite rules and regulations rather tricky to negotiate, he said that I had to look at it like a game. To think of it like a cricket match with its myriad sets of rules. The one who plays by those rules but still exercises his/her skill is the one who succeeds, the gentleman declared. He had been with BNI far longer than I had and my understanding of cricket is a little rusty around the edges, that I decided not to counter his argument. I nodded gamely (ha!), sipped my tea and found someone else to pass my business card to.
In the intervening weeks, I have been thinking a bit more about his analogy and concluded that perhaps it is not quite accurate to equate a networking situation to that of a sport. For one, we are not sitting around a table week after week in competition. If anything, we are a ‘only one-per-business’ networking group and our competition is left at the door. So really, we are there as part of a team, supporting each other, or at least that’s the idea.
It follows that there are no winners or losers in this case (now, don’t get pedantic on me and say you could draw in cricket and technically neither team wins or loses). Also, while networking, particularly in BNI the emphasis is on collaborating. There are power teams such as traders who could work together, if they so wish to. Something that cannot happen in cricket, unless you have been bribed which does not happen as cricket is a gentleman’s game.
It would be safe to say that apart from having far too many rules and regulations, some of which is more hindrance than help, networking with BNI and cricket have little in common.
(The image above is a few years old when my son was roped into be a 11th ‘man’ in his dad’s cricket team. The child spent the entire afternoon by the boundary and has yet to recover from the tedium of cricket.)