How to Join

Started in January 1985 by Dr. Ivan R. Misner, Founder & Chairman of BNI. BNI provides a positive, supportive, and structured environment for men and women to further their business through referral marketing.

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*. A partial list of the policies of BNI are listed below:

The first step is to find a chapter and visit and see what we are all about.

  • Only one person from each professional specialty is permitted to join a chapter of BNI.
  • All participants should represent their primary occupation, rather than a part-time business.
  • Attendance is critical and is a key success factor. There are specific policies in regards to attendance and the use of substitutes. We understand that there are times when you will be unable to attend a meeting, so we have allowed for absences; however, it is very important that you are familiar with the specific policies before completing your application for membership. 
  • Participation in the chapter by members is a key to the success of a group. Members can participate by bringing bona-fide referrals and visitors to their BNI chapter.

If you are unable to find a vacancy… phone or email the BNI office.

We feel the best way to learn about BNI is experiencing a meeting in person. This will allow you to see how our meeting agenda is run, but more importantly, it gives you a chance to meet your prospective referral partners. We do our best to explain what a BNI meeting is like over the phone; however, it would be similar to trying to explain a haircut over the phone - very ineffective. 

When preparing to visit, here are a few guidelines:

1. Take cash as most chapters have a nominal meeting fee to cover the room and meal charges.

2. Be ready to introduce yourself, in most cases; you will have the opportunity to stand and educate the room on your business and what a great referral would be for you. PLEASE NOTE, if you visit a chapter that has a member already holding a seat in the professional lane that you represent then you will only be able to observe the meeting. This protects the existing member's investment that they have made into the group. When you arrive, just ask the VISITORS HOST OR ANY OTHER MEMBER if you are unsure.  (If your lane is taken and you still want to participate in BNI, then give us a call after the meeting, we may have another chapter for you to visit or we may be working on a new chapter for that area.)

3. Bring LOTS of business cards because you will also have a chance to pass them to all of the members.

Quick side note, you will also receive business cards; however, we strongly discourage SPAMMING of our 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 referral marketing, so before they even come to a meeting they have to have spoken to someone or been invited by someone in the group. Everyone has to have a sponsor, or one is assigned to them, and they interview them.

Q: What if a member gets a referral and does poor work?

A: We have an ethics committee and it is imperative that anyone who gives a lead and finds out it was not satisfactorily handled must report that to the membersh 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 focussed and you have a dream and you're willing to make a sacrifice, you are the person we want in the group.

Q: Are members supposed to bring visitors?

A: You're encouraged to bring visitors for those occupations that are open after the visitor has been prescreened, if they're a viable candidate. It's pretty much a closed meeting except for potential 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.

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