Insights on BNI & Personal Branding

GAINS profile


So often, BNI members are frustrated about not getting more business referred to them. After all, isn’t that what business networking is all about?

The fact is, it’s not enough that you’re great at what you do and can offer a lot of value to new clients. To win referrals from networking, you need to ensure that your contacts have all the necessary information about you and your skills so they can go out and persuade third parties to come and purchase your product or service.

Five key things are essential for your network members to know about you before you can expect them to refer business your way. Equally, you need to know these same five things about them so you can reciprocate.

In BNI, this process of reciprocal sharing of information is the GAINS exchange, based on the first letter of each of the five essential informational points: Goals, Accomplishments, Interests, Networks, and Skills.

  • Goals: What are the important objectives to you; what are the problems you want to solve? Not just financial and business goals but also personal and educational objectives.
  • Accomplishments: What big projects have you completed in business or as an employee? What are your achievements as a student or parent?
  • Interests: What are the things you enjoy doing? The music you like to listen to the hobbies you spend time on, the sports you like to play or watch? People are more willing to spend time with people they share interests with
  • Networks: Each of your contacts is a part of many networks. Do you know what these are, how big they are? Each of us has the potential to connect with hundreds or thousands of people if we cultivate these resources.
  • Skills: What do you do, especially well? What are the professional areas in which you excel? Don’t be afraid to share this information with your contacts and learn about people’s talents and abilities in your network.

These are not mysterious pieces of information. They are facts we are exposed to every day if we look for them.

To further illustrate this, BNI has a real-world example of how a GAINS exchange benefitted members in China.
Qiu Xuemin, a supplier of products for the hospitality industry, recently helped a fellow member achieve their DREAM referral through the proper application of the GAINS exchange. When she realized that Li Zening, a supplier of bottled water, had an interest in golf and was looking for a referral in the hospitality industry, she leaned on that interest to make a connection for him.

Ms. Xuemin had reached out to an associate in the hospitality industry, Mr. Liu, to establish a formal relationship. After Mr. Liu invited Ms. Xuemin to golf, she used that as an opportunity to spark Mr. Zening’s interest and invite him to golf as well. During the outing, which also included BNI Vision chapter President Wang Yunjiang, Mr. Liu detailed his portfolio and conveyed that his group managed over 20 different properties. Additionally, he openly mentioned that his group was looking for a supplier for bottled water, which was in Mr. Zening’s wheelhouse. Not to mention, as a Wine Representative, Mr. Yunjiang was able to present some of his companies offerings.

Four hours later, with new connections made, Mr. Liu expressed interest in engaging in more business opportunities with Mr. Zening and Mr. Yunjiang. This success story, fueled by the GAINS exchange, shows how important these key pieces of information can be to a successful relationship.

So, if you’re looking to make the most of your 1-to-1’s try a GAINS exchange yourself. Spend a little time with the people you know, concentrating on learning these five essentials. And then give back the same kind of information. Use the attached worksheet (PDF) to collect this information and as a way to organize your own Goals, Accomplishments, Interests, Networks, and Skills.

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