International Networking Week

By Sharon Schweitzer

International Networking Week is celebrated annually in different countries for a week in the first week of February to bring business professionals together and share their experiences. This year, it is celebrated from February 5th to 11th. The initiative was a brainchild of Business Networking International® (BNI®). This year marks its 17th year, with this year’s theme being “seize your breakthrough moment”. BNI® is an organization that holds annual events during this holiday and also provides business leaders a chance to develop professional relations with other participants to network and drive sales.

The week was initiated to bring professionals around the globe together enough to build sales-leading bonding relations with one another by sharing their growing experiences. The goal of the holiday is to support professionals in building a professional support system with thousands of others from different spheres of society including marketing, sales, finance, and small and corporate business. And, to encourage the maintenance of those vital connections.

According to Business Networking International® — initiators of the holiday and a world’s leading business referral organization with over 280,000 members in about 9,900 chapters across over 70 countries, the International Networking Week holiday was initiated to encourage business networking and relationship building among professionals who may otherwise have missed out on the power of networking.

Throughout the week, BNI hosts various networking events that local businesses and other networking events can attend as well as bring visitors to create opportunities for networking, training, and qualifications.

Networking includes numerous benefits to the business professional. For example, one advantage is honing your skills. By connecting with those who share your interests, they can help you troubleshoot problem areas. On the other side, by networking out of your usual circles, you gain additional knowledge, skills, and connections.

These are some of the powerful benefits of networking for entrepreneurs, business owners and professionals: 

  • Business Growth: Forge connections with potential clients, customers, and partners, opening doors to new business opportunities and markets. 
  • Knowledge Sharing: Gain insights, stay informed about trends, and learn from the experiences of others to stay ahead in your industry. 
  • Referrals: Increase your chances of receiving referrals, a powerful source of new business. 
  • Mentorship and Advice: Access mentorship, advice, and shared expertise to navigate challenges and make informed decisions. 
  • Visibility and Credibility: Enhance your business’s visibility, establishing credibility within your network and positioning yourself as a trusted authority.
  • Brand Promotion: Promote your brand, products, or services, contributing to increased awareness and a positive reputation in your industry. 
  • Business Collaboration: Find partners, collaborate on projects, and share resources for mutual benefit. 
  • Supportive Community: Build strong relationships that deliver long-term personal and professional enrichment.


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Sharon Schweitzer JD, is a diversity and inclusion consultant, cross-cultural trainer, etiquette expert, and the founder of Access to Culture. In addition to her accreditation in intercultural management from the HOFSTEDE Centre, she is an attorney and mediator. Sharon served as a Chinese Ceremonial Dining Etiquette Specialist in the documentary series Confucius was a Foodie, on Nat Geo People. Her Amazon #1 Best Selling book in International Business,  Access to Asia: Your Multicultural Business Guide, won a coveted Kirkus Star, and was named to Kirkus Reviews’ Best Books. She’s a winner of numerous awards, including the British Airways International Trade Award at the Greater Austin Business Awards.

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