Five questions to...Bijay Rajnikantt Shah

Bijay Rajnikantt Shah (SUPPLIED)

Executives of all stripes will come together next week to press the flesh and swap business cards for what is being billed Dubai's biggest networking event. Get Connected Dubai promises to bring together CEOs, business leaders, top decision-makers, business owners and entrepreneurs from a variety of industries at The Address, Dubai Marina on Monday, March 29.

The event is organised by Business Networking International (BNI), whose National Director for the UAE, Bijay Rajnikantt Shah, believes business networking is one of the most important practices an executive can use to build new business, new contacts and increase his profile.

He talked to Emirates Business ahead of the event, more information about which is at available at


What do you want to achieve with this event? And what are the highlights of this instalment?

The purpose of Get Connected Dubai, which is a forum for entrepreneurs, business owners, professionals and government representatives, is to have one amazing location, one evening and more than 500 like-minded professionals with common goals in mind: Connect, network and make their business recession-proof. What's special this year is that we're inviting other networks such as Heels & Deals, Arab Business Club and Toastmasters to showcase what they do as we believe all networks complement each other. By sticking together and helping one another, we can build our businesses despite the gloomy headlines.

Why should organisations spend time networking? Isn't networking a major waste of time?

I think that some may view networking as a waste of time but the proof really is in the numbers. Last year BNI passed 6.3 million referrals worldwide; this generated more than $2.3 billion (Dh8.44bn) internationally. Members who understand the process of collaborative networking know it can lead to a lot of referrals and make your business a lot of money.

What about the UAE? How much business did BNI generate in the UAE?

BNI in the UAE has 250 members and last year our members generated more than 8000 referrals generating over Dh50m. Our members realise that effective, collaborative networking is vital for word-of-mouth referral generation. Referrals are always important but during a recessionary period referrals are even more important. People want to do business with people who they know, like and trust.

Are you expecting to boost membership with this event?

If, after attending the event, anyone wants to become a member of any of the networks taking part, they would be most welcome. However this isn't the main goal. It's about providing all attendees with opportunities and to help them understand the concept of good networking from some of the most successful networking professionals in the world.

What benefits do members of BNI get?

The biggest benefit is of course substantially increased referrals. But there is an art to networking, so to ensure each member maximises the potential for referrals we provide tools to network more effectively. Once a member of a chapter you are guaranteed participation in up to 52 networking meetings per year as well as opportunities to participate in business tradeshows.


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