BNI or Business Referral Networking is the largest business referral organization in the world. Chapters are structures so that there is only one person representing each business profession. As someone who has been involved with BNI South Florida in the past, I thought I’d share some of my knowledge of BNI in order to assist you in making a decision about the organization.
BNI started in the mid 1980’s in California. The founder Dr. Ivan Misner, is still the Chairman. The organization has grown throughout the last 20 plus years and now boasts chapters all over the world.
What’s it all about?
Whether you start a new chapter of BNI or join an existing one, your purpose as it relates to the chapter is two fold. The first important thing you will be doing, is keeping your eyes and ears open for business referrals to other members in the chapter. The other important function is recruit other business professionals for membership.
On the average members are expected to pass at least one referral per week to other members. If you don’t have a referral to pass and you bring a visitor to the meeting you’ll still be in good standing. If you don’t have a referral or bring a visitor, you are expected to give a testimonial about someone in the group you have had professional dealings with.
What the benefit to you as a member?
Over a period of time, the more referrals you hand out, the more you can expect to get back. This is “givers gain” in action. When someone gives you something you want to reciprocate, don’t you? It works vice versa as well.
The reasons that you want to continue to recruit new members is so that the chapter will continue. Statistics have shown that when a chapter has 20 members there are about 20 referrals passed per week. Once a chapter grows to 30 members the referrals move up to about 40 per week. You can see the benefit of having a larger chapter. Another advantage of a larger chapter is that over time you will always lose members through attrition, and with a larger chapter you will still remain strong.
BNI overall is well thought out and well designed. Some chapter members have a difficult adhering to all of the rules all of the time. For some chapters this can be seen as a weakness, for others, a strength. I like the idea of having only one person for each profession.
A few things you might want to keep in mind. BNI does not allow its members to join other networking groups with the structure of one person representing each profession. And also, even though BNI is a large MLM organization, its frowned upon to represent an MLM or similar business opportunity, only its products.
Author: George L. KenneyThis author has published 9 articles so far.