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Last year’s Kent figures are out. 237 new members joined in 2015, with more than 36, 710 Referrals and over £17,428993.00 of new business being passed. 

BNI Success Stories 

After completing a PhD at Kent University in 2010, I made the move from lecturing to writing as it was the part of my studies that I had enjoyed the most. I started work for a PR agency, dealing largely with dental/medical clients and learning about different aspects of marketing.

Unfortunately, a full time job was too hard for me physically – I was born with Cystic Fibrosis (a genetic condition that clogs the lungs and digestive system with thick, sticky mucus, leading to constant and increasingly severe chest infections). I was having to keep much longer hours in order to fit in my treatment regime and was soon hospitalised.
I realised that 9-5 work was going to be impossible for me and so decided to take the plunge and become a freelance writer. I found work with a local magazine and was invited to a BNI meeting by Terry Roffey of Brook Security, whom I had interviewed for an article.

I live in Canterbury and the chapter I was invited to was Pioneer in Maidstone, so I worried that travelling that far, that early in the morning would make me ill. I was also concerned about the cost of the investment because, being a ‘one man band’, my finances were pretty tight. My intention  was to pop along, introduce myself and then forget all about it.

However, when I went to the meeting I felt so welcome and got on so well with the other members that I resolved to try and make it work. I made back my first year’s membership in six weeks and I haven’t looked back.

I now get approximately 70% of my writing work through BNI, but for me membership has meant so much more, it has introduced to some wonderful and supportive friends, which is important when you work alone. I have also improved my health considerably! It sounds odd, but I met a health coach (Matt Ireland), who has helped me to hone my nutrition and exercise to best suit my condition, and I also met a Reliv distributor, who suggested I take products intended to boost the immune system. I’m proud to say that, since joining BNI, I haven’t been taken into hospital!

For me, the most exciting thing about BNI has been the new doors it has opened. A few months after joining I was asked to become an Ambassador, which has been an absolutely fantastic experience. I have served as Events Co-ordinator, Membership Co-ordinator and I am now a Director Consultant.

Through my attendance at meetings I have rediscovered the love of public speaking that I had as a lecturer and am taking steps towards pursuing motivational speaking as part of my career. Most importantly, it was through a BNI contact that I met my publisher and have recently produced a personal development guide called Step Back Move Forward: how changing your perspective can change your life, which is available on Amazon. The book charts my own story, including my time in BNI, and uses my personal experiences to create a system that will help others to overcome personal challenges.

I have achieved, learned and gained so much over the past 16 months that I sometimes can’t quite believe it’s all real, but I know one thing: I owe it all to the man who took the time to invite me to my first BNI meeting!

Elizabeth Norton

Freelance Writer/Journalist

Norton PR

Pioneer Maidstone BNI, Kent

www.nortonpr.co.uk

My book Step Back, Move Forward is now available on Amazon

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