Business Network International
BNI is a company which claims to be "the world's largest referral organization" and works by connecting a group of professionals from various industries and encouraging regular passing of referrals.
Each chapter allows one person per occupational classification, and prospective members must be approved via an application process.
BNI's philosophy is "Givers Gain" - members are expected to focus on giving referrals to other members to build relationships and receive referrals in return.
BNI draws a distinction between a "referral" and a "lead." Chapters have specific rules regarding required attendance in order to cultivate the relationships needed to create a comfort level in referring business and they also track the monetary amount of passed business in order to prove the value of the financial and time commitment.
For more information visit the BNI website
Finding the right chapter for you
Using the BNI website, search for chapters that are geographically suitable for you. You will find that different chapters meet on different days and at different times. Each chapter posts its member's details on their website so use this to assess whether or not you can get in.
Directly contact the BNI representative and ask permission to attend the selected chapter(s). It makes sense to 'shop-around' by attending multiple chapters so that you can find one that best fits you.
Tips on attending a BNI chapter
Brett Bonser, Executive Director of align.me provides some tips:
- Prepare a one-minute elevator pitch
- Arrive early
- Take 30 business cards
From Brett Bonser, align.me
Hello my name is Brett Bonser and I am the Executive Director of align.me. We help companies who already have a clear strategy, a good product or service and a willing market, but their sales and marketing engine is underperforming. We build them a clear plan that is blisteringly clear and highly actionable. This appears in the form of a one page plan for growth that all the stakeholders agree to – down to the smallest detail. We work out exactly what the velocity of your funnel needs to look like for the next 3 years. We work out what tactics will deliver that velocity. Then we build those tactics, execute them, and measure what is actually happening. We provide our own great marketers, or if you really want in-house, we’ll recruit, train and mentor yours. A good referral for me today would be the CEO of a company that has between 3 and 10 sales people, and should be getting more out of their sales and marketing engine.