Why Join BNI?

Benefits of being part of a business network

  • Increased exposure to many other people and businesses.
  • Substantially increased referrals.
  • Tools to network more effectively, including an orientation CD giving the “Formula for Success” in BNI, a badge, a vinyl card holder to carry members’ business cards, referral slips, marketing materials for your chapter and much, much more.
  • Participation in up to 52 networking meetings per year.
  • Bi-monthly newsletters with educational material on networking, public speaking, and business.
  • Participation in business tradeshows (where you’ll have an opportunity to market your chapter and your business).
  • Free periodic workshops on networking.
  • And much, much more!!!

Frequently asked questions

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 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: You’re encouraged to bring visitors for those occupations that are open, after the visitor has been prescreened, and 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.

BNI Policies

This information is important reading for all members of BNI. You are urged to review this material closely and are required to read the policy sections.


Success in BNI means you need to be a positive and supportive member of an organisation based upon mutual support. This requires commitment to your fellow members as well as to the philosophy of ‘Givers Gain®‘: by giving business to others, you will get business in return.


Our mission is to help members increase their business through a structured, positive, and professional “word-of-mouth” programme that enables them to develop long-term, meaningful relationships with quality business professionals.


CODE OF ETHICS followed by members:
  1. I will provide the quality of services at the prices that I have quoted.
  2. I will be truthful with the members and their referrals.
  3. I will build goodwill and trust among members and their referrals.
  4. I will take responsibility for following up on the referrals I receive.
  5. I will live up to the ethical standards of my profession.*
  6. I will display a positive and supportive attitude with BNI members.

*(Professional standards outlined in a formal code of ethics, supersede the above standards.)

  1. Only one person from each profession or classification is permitted to join a Chapter of BNI. Membership Committees of each Chapter have final authority relating to classification conflicts.
  2. Members must represent their primary occupation, not a part-time business.
  3. The weekly meetings last for 90 minutes. Members need to arrive on time and stay for the entire meeting.
  4. An individual member cannot be in a second BNI chapter nor in any other group that allows only one person per profession and whose primary purpose is to pass referrals to one another, because it substantially reduces their commitment to the chapter members. Membership Committees must enforce this policy.
  5. Attendance is critical to the group. If a member cannot attend, they may send a substitute (not a member of their own Chapter) to the meeting.This will not count as an absence. A member is allowed three absences in any six month period. More than this and the member is subject to removal by the Chapter’s Leadership Team or Membership Committee.
  6. Members are required to bring bona-fide referrals and/or visitors to their Chapter of BNI. Chapters may establish a minimum number of referrals and/or visitors that is acceptable to maintain membership.
  7. Visitors may attend Chapter meetings up to two times.
  8. Speakers must bring a door prize. Only members bringing a visitor or a referral are eligible for the door prize.
  9. All new members must attend the Member Success Programme in their region within the first 60 days of joining. Only after attending the training may the new member be added to the ‘speaker rotation’ for that Chapter. Any new members not attending the training within 60 days of induction into the Chapter, will be subject to having their classification opened by the Membership Committee.
  10. There are no leaves of absence other than for exceptional medical circumstances. A member may take up to eight weeks medical leave with the Membership Committee’s prior approval if their dues are pre-paid for that period of time and they attempt to have someone ‘fill-in’ during their leave.
  11. It is the member’s responsibility to file a concern with the Membership Committee of their Chapter if a visitor in any way conflicts with their classification.This should be done before the visitor is approved for membership. If there are no complaints, the Membership Committee will ‘assume their consent’.
  12. Members who wish to change their classification must submit a new membership application and obtain approval from the Membership Committee for that classification change.
  13. Transferring members must submit a new membership application to the Membership Committee of the Chapter they are transferring to for approval. If approved for transfer, all fees are transferable.
  14. In case of problems with a member, Membership Committees may, at their sole discretion, put a member on probation relating to the member’s business practices or commitment to the Chapter.
  15. Memberships may be revoked for failure to comply with the policies and/or the Code of Ethics of BNI. Membership Committees of any Chapter may revoke memberships. In the absence of a Membership Committee, the Leadership Team may fulfil that responsibility.
  16. BNI Policies are subject to change. All proposed policy changes need to be reviewed first by the Board of Advisors.
  17. If the Leadership Team fulfils all responsibilities throughout their term, then they will receive compensation for their fees. The Leadership Team must agree to the terms outlined in the Leadership Team Agreement in order to hold a position and must go through training before participating.
  18. In the absence of a Membership Committee, the Leadership Team may act as an ad-hoc Membership Committee until one is established.
  19. BNI Membership lists are for the purpose of ‘giving’ referrals and not for soliciting (via e-mail, direct mail or other means) BNI members without their prior approval.
  20. Other than normal BNI printed materials, members may not use the BNI Intellectual Property (eg. logos, trademarks, names, slogans, copyrighted materials, etc.) to manufacture, distribute, sell, market, or promote any product or service, or otherwise use the BNI Intellectual Property without obtaining the prior written consent of BNI HQ or the appropriate National Office. Members must agree to abide by the BNI Branding Standards for any permitted use.
  1. There is an initial registration fee. Fees are paid annually or biennially. Contact the local Secretary/Treasurer for amounts. Fees can be paid by cheque or the following cards: VISA, MASTERCARD, DELTA or MAESTRO.
  2. BNI may establish Chapters in any community with people interested in developing a referral-based business. In addition, BNI reserves the right to open more than one Chapter per community.
  3. Membership fees are payable 30 days prior to the due date. Members who have not paid by the first meeting of the month they are due are considered late and will be liable to a £20 late charge. If fees are not paid within 15 days, the member will be officially dropped by BNI.
  4. Fees are non-refundable. A Certificate of Credit will be given, upon request, to members in good standing for the unused portion of their fees.
  5. Fees cannot be transferred from one person to another unless the fees were paid by the same company.
  6. BNI has a strict policy on returned cheques. A member has three working days in which to contact their Regional BNI Office and resolve the matter. Any returned cheques not resolved within this period will be turned over to collections. All returned cheques will be liable to a minimum £25 returned cheque fee. If a member passes a second NSF cheque, that member will be subject to immediate termination.
  7. BNI is a marketing service provided by BNI Enterprises Inc. BNI or any of its franchisees reserve the right to discontinue a member’s participation in the programme.
  8. A member requesting a transfer from their current chapter to a new chapter will be required to submit a completed new member application to the Membership Committee of the new chapter. In addition, if the member has less than 12 months of paid membership credit, they must submit a renewal payment. Or, if the member has more than 12 months of paid membership credit, no additional investment is required. Upon acceptance into the new chapter, the credit from their previous chapter will be added to their membership in the new chapter as well as the renewal time, if applicable.
  1. Open Networking.
  2. Welcome everyone, introduce Leadership Team.
  3. Purpose and Overview of BNI.
  4. Networking Education.
  5. Announce BNI ‘Network Leaders’ (beginning of each month).
  6. Pass business cards.
  7. Welcome any new (or renewing) BNI members to the organisation (induct new members).
  8. Members introduce themselves and give 60-second presentation.
  9. Welcome visitors to BNI and have members introduce them (visitors give 60-second presentation).
  10. Membership Co-ordinator’s Report.
  11. Membership Committee Report.
  12. Secretary/Treasurer announces rota of speakers for next six weeks and introduces that week’s speaker(s).
  13. Speaker(s) gives 10-12 minute presentation, including questions and answers.
  14. Pass Referrals: Visitors say what has impressed them most about the meeting.
  15. Referral Reality Check.
  16. Secretary/Treasurer’s Report.
  17. Chapter Director thanks visitors.
  18. Announcements and reminders eg. workshops, chamber meetings in the area, committee meetings, etc.
  19. Door prize draw: for members bringing visitors or referrals.The speaker(s) brings the door prize(s).
  20. Close meeting. Conduct visitor orientation and new member orientation.


Programme Guidelines are not policies, but are recommended practices that allow Chapters to run more smoothly and effectively.

Visiting Chapters
  • Members visiting other Chapters should announce that they are from another Chapter.
  • Visiting members must not do or say anything that competes with a member of that Chapter.
  • The Chapter should be cautious in giving referrals to individuals they don’t know, including visiting members.
  • Visiting members should pay for their own breakfast.
  • Before visiting another Chapter, the visiting member should call that Chapter Director first.
  • A visiting member should visit on the same basis as a regular visitor, i.e. no more than twice.
Absentees and Latecomers

Absences and late arrivals mean less business for members, therefore, the Membership Committee of a Chapter may give warnings to members who are consistently late or leave early. If the problem continues, the member may be subject to removal by the Membership Committee.

Substitute Programme
  • People to consider for substitutes include: your customers, clients, patients, friends, family and employees.
  • The primary purpose for a substitute is to represent a BNI member. BNI recommends minimal use of a substitute. However, a member may use substitutes up to three times in a six month period.
  • The chapter should be aware that a substitute will be attending the meeting. The Visitor Host should be there to greet the substitute and welcome him/her to the meeting.
Multi-Level Marketing
  • Multi-level marketing members of BNI should represent their products and services in BNI and not the business opportunity element of their business.

An INTERNATIONAL BOARD OF ADVISORS exists to address policy issues relating to BNI. The Board is made up of regular members (like yourself ) from various Chapters throughout BNI. The Board’s purpose is to ensure that there is open communication between the membership and BNI Headquarters. If you have an issue or concern that you would like addressed by the Board, contact your BNI Regional/Executive Director for more information.


Like so many performance activities, BNI Staff Members make the system look easy. BNI is operated by a professional staff who, initially created and now work to maintain, a user-friendly marketing system. Take away the BNI infrastructure and staff and the service provided through the programme will decline rapidly.

  1. Potential for a significant amount of new referred business.
  2. Current information about latest business trends in other industries which facilitates the operation and growth of one’s own business.
  3. Practical training and practice in public speaking and specific marketing/advertisement of oneself and one’s service/product.
  4. Special business contacts that can be converted into long term strategic alliances at the regional, up to and including global business community.
  5. Special coaching about word-of-mouth marketing from trained and talented BNI Directors. If any one of the above benefits were to be fully utilised by a member, the benefits would far outweigh the monetary investment for a BNI membership. There are numerous advantages to membership, not the least of which is the international affiliation to other BNI chapters and members. These more global contacts are becoming increasingly important to businesses and their respective clients.

The fees collected by BNI are distributed approximately as follows:

  1. Chapter Marketing: Brochures & invitation cards, visitor information sheets, books published by BNI, news article reprints, trade shows, first class mail advertising to local businesses (postage, sample letter, and confirmation sheet included), periodic press releases, public relations support and website promotion on www.bni.eu.
  2. Chapter Support: Orientation audio cds, vinyl card holders, badges, unlimited referral slips,Team Leader manuals and training materials, Membership applications, BNI Directors’ assistance, free workshops, awards, certificates, pins, Member manuals, National Office support, production of SuccessNet (BNI’s newsletter) and www.bni.eu.
  3. Administrative Expenses: Office expenses such as telephone, copier, computer supplies, stationery, etc.
  4. Staff Expenses: Compensation for office staff to handle telephone enquiries, respond to chapter requests, prepare press releases, etc. Note: The Chapter Leadership Team do not pay fees as compensation for their work in the chapter. Thus, for every 500 chapters of BNI, 1,500 people would be Team Leaders and, therefore, pay no membership participation fees.

Most business people advertise and we would never suggest that you stop advertising. However, ‘Compare the Value’ between advertising and word-of-mouth marketing. Being a member of BNI is like having up to 40 or more salespeople marketing your product or service every day.


Offer the opportunity to do business with someone who is in the market to buy your product or service. Although not a guaranteed sale, a good referral is an open door to discuss your business with someone who is interested in your product or service. Each member knows many other people. This extended network is a rich database of potential business available to members of BNI.


Is the most cost-effective form of advertising possible. BNI provides a structured environment for the development and exchange of quality referrals. By comparison, getting referrals through a one time 4” x 4” display ad costs an average of £1,000 based on a survey published in The World’s Best Known Marketing Secret.

The average Chapter of BNI gives over 60 referrals per month to its members. Based on 5 surveys conducted in the UK & Ireland over a period of 3 years, each member of BNI received an average of over £26,000 per year worth of potential business from other members.

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