In 2013, Josh Stephens joined Berkshire Hathaway Home Services Warren Residential in Boston, MA to take his passion for networking and relationship building to the next level. Through his extraordinary ability to connect with others he immediately made a name for himself in both the real estate industry and the Boston community. Currently holding the title as Vice President for BHHS Warren Residential, Josh has been presented with many honors both professionally and within the community. In 2016, Josh discovered yet another opportunity to grow when he stumbled upon Business Networking International (BNI) chapters in the neighborhoods around him.
BNI is a business referral organization that prides itself on building relationships through a positive and professional program. While every chapter is unique, the goals and formation of the other 8,500+ chapters across the world remain similar; meetings take place once a week and positions such as President, Vice President, Treasurer, etc. are all alike. BNI aims to create access to professional development opportunities as well as personal ones. Members learn about their professional and personal assets and opportunities in order to grow their business, while simultaneously developing themselves.
Q: What inspired you to start Somerville’s first BNI chapter?
A: The realtor seat is always the hottest seat in any BNI chapter. There were no open realtor seats in other chapters, so the only opportunity I had was to start my own. Somerville is such a vibrant city, so when I found out they didn’t have a chapter, I jumped on it.
Eager to embrace all the responsibilities that a BNI chapter founding member will have to manage, Josh faced the challenge of growing the group himself head on.
“As the President and founding member, I had to grow the group on a grass roots level. I made calls to anyone I could think of who would want to join and invited them to a meeting. It took well over a year to officially launch the chapter, but now we are at almost 30 members.”
Along with the obligations of founding the chapter, Josh has served as President since the founding in 2016 and takes on those responsibilities as well.
“It is my job to host the meeting each week. There is a proven structure to every meeting and it is my job to follow it. I try to be as motivating as possible every Tuesday morning because I realize how much that helps the group flourish.”
Now a few years in, Josh continues to lead and motivate Somerville’s chapter by showing up early every week, soaking in the entrepreneurial discussions, and striving to help other members while simultaneously bettering himself and his business. “It [BNI] has allowed me to better service my clients due to the direct network of countless professionals across so many industries.”
Q: What advice would you give to someone interested in joining a BNI chapter, but is unsure where to start? What about starting a new chapter?
A: It is a commitment. It’s not for everyone. However, it is one of the best ways to grow a business and is cheaper than most marketing techniques. Starting a chapter is difficult. Take your time, be consistent, and believe in the BNI way.