The first step is to find a chapter and visit to experience what BNI is all about.
- Only one person from each professional specialty is permitted to join a chapter of BNI.
- All participants must represent their primary occupation, not a part-time business.
- Attendance is critical. If you cannot attend a meeting, you may send a substitute (up to 6-times a year). This will not count as an absence.
- Participation in the chapter by members is a key to the success of a group. Members can participate by bringing bona-fide referrals and/or visitors to their BNI chapter meeting.
If you can't find a vacancy… phone or email the BNI office. Explaining a BNI meeting is like giving a haircut over the phone - not very effective. BNI meetings are best experienced in person.
Most chapters have a nominal meeting fee to cover the room and meal charges. You will have the opportunity to stand and do a commercial for your company (unless your competitor is a member…then you simply "observe"). Bring your business cards to share with the members during our open networking time.
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!!!
Common Questions Asked by Visitors
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. 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 profession and/or location. More stringent professional standards outlined in a formal code of ethics for a profession supersede the BNI standards. This means that a member belonging to a profession that has a more stringent standard must adhere to that standard. An example of this is the state bar association standards for attorneys licensed to practice law in that state. It should be noted that no professional standards outlined in a formal code of ethics may lower BNI ethical standards, or avoid compliance with BNI policies.
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.