Started in January 1985 by Dr. Ivan R. Misner, Founder & Chairman, BNI provides a positive, supportive, structured environment for business professionals to further their business through networking, word-of-mouth marketing, and referrals.
Networking requires commitment. The most successful chapters of BNI are comprised of participants who are sincerely committed to helping one another through networking. They are a team. As a participant in BNI, you are responsible for complying with the policies and guidelines of the organization*.
Explaining a BNI meeting is like giving a haircut over the phone -- not very effective. BNI meetings are best experienced in person.
- The first step is to visit a chapter to see if BNI will be a good fit for you and your business!
- Once you find a chapter that you'd like to participate in, speak to the Visitor Host Team after the meeting to fill out an application for membership. Be sure to bring two business references and your form of membership payment with you.
- If you can't find an opening for your profession … contact the BNI Regional Office.
Some chapters have a nominal meeting fee to cover the room and meal charges (if applicable). You will have the opportunity to stand and introduce yourself and your company. If your classification is already filled in a chapter, we invite you to attend and simply "observe" the meeting, then contact the BNI Regional Office to find an opening or learn how to start a chapter of your own. Be sure to bring plenty of business cards because you will also have a chance to pass them to all of the members.
The Benefits of Membership Are Many!
1. Increased exposure to many other people and businesses;
2. Building solid business relationships that will last for the rest of your life;
3. Tools to network more effectively, including educational workshops and mentoring;
4. Visibility, Credibility and Profitability for each of our members;
5. And much, much more!!!
Excerpts from: The World's Best Known Marketing Secret
Q: Can anyone join a chapter?
A: We only take one person per professional specialty. So if you are a residential real estate person and we already have one, we can refer you to another chapter, or allow you to open another chapter. Of course, if you are a commercial real estate person, you could be eligible to join this chapter.
Q: How do you know new members are reputable?
A: The application asks for references and we have a Membership Committee that checks them. It's word of mouth, so before they even come to a meeting they have to have spoken to someone or been invited by someone in the group. Each member has a sponsor, or one is assigned to them. Each applicant is interviewed prior to acceptance.
Q: What if a member gets a referral and does poor work?
A: We have a Membership Committee that handles complaints. It is imperative that anyone who gives or receives a referral and finds out that it was not satisfactorily handled must report the issue to the Membership Committee, who will investigate.
Q: What occupations benefit the most from networking?
A: It is not the occupation, it is the individual. The occupation can be anything. If you're focused and you have a dream and you're willing to make a sacrifice, you are the person we want in the chapter.
Q: Are members supposed to bring visitors?
A: You're encouraged to bring visitors for the professions that are currently open, exposing your referral network to other high-quality people who would benefit from membership and bring value to the existing members.
Q: Do ethical rules for certain professions prohibit participation in BNI?
A: BNI understands the importance of the ethical concerns governing certain professions and acknowledges that rules can differ by location. As such, BNI therefore requires its members to uphold the rules of its profession so as not to violate the professional's ethical obligations. In the event that BNI's general rules could potentially violate a professional's ethical code, BNI's rules are superseded by the dictates of the professional's ethics' code. Significantly, a primary objective of BNI is to educate its membership in ways to market and grow business. It is BNI's intent to ensure that this is permitted.
Q: If I specialize in a field within my profession, am I expected to be an expert in all aspects of my profession?
A: BNI understands that many professions are broad and that people often specialize within their profession. BNI does not expect, nor does it encourage, any professional to participate in an area in which the professional does not have expertise. On the contrary, BNI prohibits professionals from acting outside of the scope of their abilities.
Q: My profession does not let me directly solicit business. Is BNI still right for me?
A: BNI's primary objective is to assist its members in ways to improve their business and to educate them concerning how they can effectively network. Business people get business when their expertise is known and others reach a comfort level with them. BNI provides a forum that allows members to meet other business peers who need to know effective and efficient business people.