The chief executive of a social enterprise has been honoured for passing more than £1m worth of business to fellow members of an Aberdeen networking group.
Graham McWilliam, CEO at luxury Aberdeen mattress maker Glencraft, has joined the Millionaire Givers Club after achieving the feat over three years with a BNI Scotland North business networking group.
Graham is a member of the BNI Energy group that meets at the Jurys Inn Aberdeen Airport to share potential leads, build relationships and network with other like-minded business people for around three hours each week.
BNI (Business Network International) is the largest face-to-face business networking referral organisation in the world, with more than 240,000 members in over 8,600 groups operating across 69 countries. Figures reveal BNI Scotland North generated £17m of business for members in 2017.
BNI Scotland North has 17 networking groups, with seven in Aberdeen, two Dundee and further groups in Inverness, Elgin, Inverurie, Montrose, Peterhead, Perth, Dunfermline and Glenrothes. BNI Scotland North is owned by Aberdeen-based Angela and Bryan Kinghorn.
Angela, executive director at BNI Scotland North, said: “Graham typifies the ‘givers gain’ attitude of BNI members. He has helped so many other members, who then actively seek to repay his generosity. We’re delighted to recognise his achievement.”
Graham joins fellow BNI member John Willis, of business telecoms and communications provider 2Circles, as one of only two current members to have achieved the Millionaire Givers status. Graham received a special pin badge to mark his milestone success.
Graham said: “I often hear that BNI is all about selling but that couldn’t be further from the truth. It’s about engagement and relationship building, using a structured approach that’s measurable. I found the ‘givers gain’ ethos to be true and very much part of the organisation’s core. BNI has been great for me personally and for Glencraft as a not-for-profit organisation. I would recommend individuals with the right outlook and commitment should give it a try.
“Sometimes it does not have to be a straightforward business lead. I was asked to advise a fellow member on the appointment of a non-executive director. I passed on a name and in time this also led to a significant contract win for the business due to the non-exec’s connections. In addition, BNI members – some due to the fact I have passed on business leads – have given up their time to support Glencraft. BNI has been win-win for us. I’m delighted to join the Millionaire Givers Club but I certainly won’t be resting on my laurels when it comes to helping other businesses.”
John, who was awarded his millionaires pin in October, 2017, added: “I can second what Graham has said. You only get what you want if you help enough people get what they want. BNI can have a profound effect on a business if they embrace the philosophy of ‘givers gain’.”
As part of Glencraft’s 175th anniversary celebrations, the charity has invested in the refurbishment of its Whitemyres Avenue showroom. Glencraft has served four generations of the royal family and holds a royal warrant.
BNI Scotland North, which has 400 members, will celebrate Graham’s accomplishment and other successes across the region with an awards night at The Chester Hotel in Aberdeen on Friday, November 23 (2018). Scotland North members have access to more than 13,000 members in the UK and Ireland. BNI was founded by Dr Ivan Misner in the United States in 1985. In 2017, BNI passed more than 683,000 referrals worth over £520 million in the UK and Ireland alone.
Members pay a joining fee and a monthly fee to be part of a group, which holds weekly meetings. Each group is formed on a competitor-free basis; only one business from a specific market sector is included in each group.