I’m often queried about what exactly it is that I do and what my company does. Since, even today, networking is something that most people see keep in their peripheral vision rather than in their forefront, I’m often amused at what some people think it is that we are doing. Since most of our customers are in the logistics industry I am often thought as being a freight forwarder or even a removalist. Since our industry is in ‘networking’ many people think I am in IT – they get the type networking mixed up. And here in Bangkok when people find out that my clients are almost all overseas they get the crazy idea that I am running a call center, or even worse a boiler room. But of the people who do get what I am doing most of them get me mixed up with a well known company that is also networking: Business Networking International
There are some pretty big differences between what Advanced International Networks does versus what Business Networking International, which was founded by and is run by Dr. Ivan Misner, does. We do, however, have some similar goals. How do we differ? Right now there are three very large ways that I see.
- Location: BNI is primarily focused on networking between people in the same city, even though they have chapters all around the world. AIN is focused on companies (and people!) outside of your country, all over the world.
- Meetings: BNI is focused on weekly meetings that are local to every one in the group. AIN is focused on one annual meeting that moves from location to location around the world.
- Level: Though I’m sure that both BNI and AIN would like to be able to say that we promote individual networking and company-to-company networking, I would have to say that BNI would be more on the individual and that AIN would be a bit more on the company.
- Industry Sectors: BNI works on exclusivity within its groups and only accepts one representative per industry. AIN’s various network members are from the same industry and are looking for partners so we allow multiple representatives in order to cover various specializations and target markets.
This is my take on how we are different. I believe that what both companies do are effective. We operate very differently mainly because BNI’s focus helps people find clients through referrals in different industries and AIN’s focus is to help link partners within the same industry. (I hope that is a fair summation.)
I would like to say that for the past few years I have watched Ivan Misner from afar and I have a lot of respect for his work. I hope to meet him myself one day. Then again, I’m surprised this hasn’t happened already as we have no less than forty mutual contacts on LinkedIn!
ABOUT ME: I am the managing director of Advanced International Networks Ltd, a globally recognized specialist on business-to-business networking and I have more air miles than Santa Claus. If you would like to follow me on twitter you can find me at @GaryDaleCearley. You can also find me on LinkedIn and Facebook. If you want to contact me you can e-mail me.