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A few Frequently Asked Questions

Q: What is BNI?

A: BNI is the most successful business networking referral organisation in the world. Networking requires commitment. The most successful chapters of BNI are comprised of participants who are sincerely committed to helping one another gain more business through word-of-mouth networking. They are a team. As a participant in BNI, you are responsible for complying with the policies and guidelines of the organisation.

BNI provides a positive, supportive, and structured environment for everyone to further their business through word-of-mouth marketing.

Q: Who started BNI?

A: Started in January 1985 by Dr. Ivan R. Misner, Founder & Chairman of BNI.

Q: Can anyone join a chapter?

A: We only take one person per professional business category. So if you are a residential real estate person and we already have a member in that category, we can refer you to 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 referral 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: Do I have to be there every week?

A: BNI has an attendance policy. The purpose of the policy is not to kick members out, rather to keep members in. Weekly attendance is required. (You can have an occasional substitute). The more consistent you are with your attendance, the more you'll show the members of your chapter that you're: professional, committed, trustworthy and reliable. These values and traits go a long way in confidently referring you to our best clients and friends.

Q: I'm not sure I'll be able to give referrals?

A: Many people have had this concern when they first discovered BNI. Don't worry... We'll teach you what you need to know to make referrals happen, both the giving and the receiving! We don't leave your success to chance. Referrals happen everyday. With a little bit of instruction, you'll be on your way to developing a great word-of-mouth referral business.

Q: Are members supposed to bring visitors?

A: Yes! If you have associates who do some occasional referrals with you, invite them to join you! You're encouraged to bring visitors for those occupations that are open, after the visitor has been prescreened, if they're a viable candidate to also become a member of the chapter.. It's pretty much a closed meeting except for potential members. One of the best benefits of BNI is that we'll train all of our members on how to refer effectively. Bring your friends and people you know that do good business. Upon acceptance of your membership, you both will be taught the same thing…how to give and receive more referrals. This can grow your business between the two of you!

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 specialise 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.