By Rachel Lucas

Meet Mark Hallett, the Launch director for BNI Sussex, as Bournefree learns about BNI and their new Hailsham Chapter.

What is BNI?

BNI stands for Business Networking International. It was started 36 years ago by business consultant Ivan Misner.

He began BNI after losing a big client and so decided to get his business acquaintances around the table and ask them if they could refer each other for projects with local businesses. This was the start of BNI networking for business people. BNI is now in 70 countries.

What is your new Hailsham Chapter?

BNI only allows one person per business category so we offer an exclusive seat at the Chapter. A Chapter starts with coffee meetups until it reaches the goal number of ten founder members. After this stage, groups will go on to the next step, by getting another 15. When these groups reach 25, they become a Chartered chapter and meet regularly.

The new Hailsham chapter is called Ropemaker, chosen as one of the main industries in Hailsham is making rope. Ropemaker has been running since the start of 2021. We have nine members and hope soon to move to the next level.

Who can join BNIs ’Hailsham Chapter? And how?

Business people who want to grow their businesses. Come along and see for yourself. Email me at:

What is “Givers Gain”?

There is a gentleman in Australia, James who is 81. He still gives blood regularly, as he has the antibodies to be given to mothers and their babies to prevent Rhesus Disease.

James is a giver. Yet, he has gained from it as well because his two grandsons were born with that particular problem. His grandsons received the antibodies from their granddad, and he had two healthy grandsons to look after, after that. So that is a good illustration of givers gain.

Is BNI cost-effective?

I have been in BNI for 18 years and I initially joined Southampton Premier BNI. I studied BNI carefully to find out what I had to do. Each week I gave a specific request in a 60 second presentation to help get a referral.

I asked to be introduced to a charity called NO Limits, I was given an intro by the insurance broker. and I got orders worth more than £30,000. My fee for joining was covered plus fees for years to come.

What do you say is the greatest benefit of joining?

Building relationships. I have ties with people throughout my years at BNI still relevant today. The guy who gave me that introduction to “No Limits”, I only rang him the other week to see how things are going. We rarely do business together now, but I have stayed in contact.

What advice would you give to members and those considering BNI?

For those who are members already, build trust and great relationships. Listen to what people are saying and act on it.

If you are thinking about joining BNI, we have a great process. You go on a free training course about using BNI to get business, how to do referrals, how to do a proper 1-2-1, with great training about BNI and Business.

BNI has fantastic people to help you to run your business and be profitable.

Here’s Helen Moss of Copylink Digital: “We decided to try networking, and we got accepted and became a member straightaway.

“Everyone was very welcoming and guided us in the right direction. We have been a member from March 2020 and we have gained more than £20,000 in business from other members and managed to help other businesses within BNI to get over £13,000 in business.

“We are so pleased we joined and we are looking forward to the future with BNI.”