Frequently Asked Questions

Q1: Why should I join BNI?

A: Our goal is to help you grow your business. BNI is a business-building system predicated on business leaders meeting each week in chapters that help members a) generate qualified client referrals; b) promote on-going professional development; and c) foster lifelong relationships.

Q2: 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.

Q3: 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 referral marketing, 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.

Q4: 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.

Q5: 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.

Q6: 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.

Q7: 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 In the event that BNI’s general rules could potentially violate a professional’s ethical code, BNI’s rules are superseded by the dictates of the professional’s ethics’ code.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.

Q8: So, for example, as a real estate professional would my membership in BNI be in conflict with the Real Estate Settlement Procedures Act (RESPA)?

A: No. We see nothing in the BNI model that conflicts with any requirements of RESPA. Being a member of a chapter provides you with structured business networking opportunities, but does not require you to obtain or make referrals as a condition of continued membership. Moreover, as a member you’re free to make or receive referrals from other chapter members or anyone outside of BNI – and this is not contingent upon receiving a reciprocal referral or anything of value from the other member. BNI does not receive or pay any commission or anything of value for any business connections or referrals that a member obtains. Doing so would be against BNI’s set of Core Values. There is no quid pro quo in the BNI model.

Q9: 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.

Q10: 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.

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