Nevada Titworth and Briana Lacey-King are hoping to help Black business owners build out their legacies in Austin.
This is their primary goal in co-founding Austin’s new Business Networking International (BNI) chapter — the first in the international networking company’s history designed to be predominantly Black. BNI was founded over 30 years ago on the premise that “givers gain.” Like many other networking groups, it provides opportunities for members to meet new people, obtain new leads and share tips and strategies. Members are recognized and celebrated for the amount of business they send to each other, so the generosity is designed to payoff to everyone in the group. In each weekly meeting, members participate in the sharing of wins, referrals and testimonies. Only one person per occupation is allowed to join, and members occasionally have the opportunity to be featured and deliver a more detailed pitch for their business.
Titworth says traditionally, many African-Americans hesitate to commit to networking groups because they feel isolated and like they must work hard to make new connections. This feels particularly true in industry-based groups where there are very few, if any other, Black faces. That’s why Austin’s new BNI chapter is being intentionally created to incorporate Black culture, nurture the Black community and generate revenue for Black businesses.
“We are taking the opportunity to organize a group of like-minded Black business owners who serve their clients at a high level. We want to create wealth and affect people’s lives in a positive way. We are legacy builders,” says Titworth. “I am a realtor, and the only thing I sell is real estate, but I am excited to present this opportunity to build on a proven foundation, within a culture that we create. I want to create a beautiful life for my family and for us to come together to create legacies.”
Because of the commitment required for BNI membership, the ideal applicant is a full-time business owner with a good deal of say over their calendar and in a position to truly define the growth that they desire.
Lacey-King, a local mortgage lender, says, “BNI is perfect for social people like me, who are into growing their sphere of influence and speaking from a place of authority as the sole member from my profession.”
Part of the membership fee to join the organization goes to providing instruction in proven systems and tools to help entrepreneurs grow their businesses. Dues also fund the operation of a sophisticated portal that members use to make referrals to each other.
“It’s like having an Angie’s List with me at all times,” Lacey-King says. Titworth’s mission is to fill that list with Black businesses that others might not ever hear about otherwise.
“For example,” he says, “I’ll be at an event with over 2,500 residents of an affluent master-planned community soon. My plan is to highlight the businesses of my fellow BNI members.” That’s the magic of BNI: You aren’t the only one promoting your business. Every member is committed to helping you build your brand.
To learn more, prospective members may email Nevada (firstname.lastname@example.org) or Briana (email@example.com) to find out when the next membership meeting will take place or to schedule a one-on-one discussion about the new chapter.