BNI meetings are best experienced in person. Bring plenty of business cards to pass to the members and other attending guests.
As a visitor, you will participate in the regular meeting agenda. The agenda includes an open networking portion that will give you the opportunity to mingle with the members and their guests. You will also receive the opportunity to formally introduce yourself, your business, and your specific specialty to the chapter attendees.
Near the conclusion of the agenda, you will be asked to share your meeting feedback and what you enjoyed the most.
BNI is a membership organization, allowing only one professional per specific business classification per chapter. The first step in becoming a member is to visit a chapter. It is recommended that you visit multiple chapters in the region to find the one that best fits you and your business.
You can find the chapters in the region by clicking on the "Find a Chapter" tab above. You can also click on the "Chapters Forming" or "Find an Opening" links to the left.
Once finding the chapter you would like to join, you would submit your application along with payment information to the Secretary Treasurer. The chapter Membership Committee will check your references and perform an membership interview. You will be notified of a decision within two weeks. Once you have submitted an application, you would attend the meetings as scheduled until a decision has been reached.
If there is not an opening in a chapter for your specific professional classification, please reach out to the Regional Director to discuss options for starting another chapter in the region. The Regional Director's contact information can be found on his business card, located in the chapter's card box.
Excerpts from: The World's Best Known Marketing Secret
Q: Can anyone join a chapter?
A: We only allow one member per professional specialty. So if you are a residential real estate professional 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 professional, 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 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 group.
Q: Are members supposed to bring visitors?
A: Members are encouraged to bring visitors. Having visitors increases the visibility and the business contact sphere for everyone.
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.