BNI for Commercial Agents

I see this as a great tool for small business owners and residential agents, but from a commercial office leasing standpoint, it’s tough.

BNI – Business Networking International Review Scam or Real

by George L. Kenney

BNI or Business Networking International prides itself on being the world’s largest referral organization. Chapters consist of one member per profession. As a co-founder and past president of a BNI South Florida chapter, I would like to share some of my experiences with you in order to assist you in making any business decisions regarding the organization.

BNI started in the mid 1980’s in California. The founder Dr. Ivan Misner, is still the Chairman. The organization has grown throughout the last 20 plus years and now boasts chapters all over the world.

What is BNI?

Whether you start a new chapter of BNI or join an existing one, your purpose as it relates to the chapter is two fold. The first important thing you will be doing, is keeping your eyes and ears open for business referrals to other members in the chapter. The other important function is recruit other business professionals for membership.

Members generally pass a minimum of one referral per week. If for some reason you don’t have a referral, bringing a visitor is acceptable. If you have neither a referral or a visitor, you are expected to give a testimonial about a member of the chapter you’ve had business dealings with.

How does membership benefit YOU?

You benefit when you pass referrals because the people receiving those referrals will feel an obligation to return the favor. Think of it this way, how do you feel when you receive over the holidays and you don’t have one to return to the person who gave it to you. Same thing goes for business referrals.

As far as recruiting new members, you always want to bring in new members to strengthen the chapter. Over a period of time people will change jobs, move, or for other reasons might leave the chapter. You’ll always want to keep membership up in order to keep referrals up.

In Conclusion

BNI is a very well structured and worthwhile organization. Some chapters have difficulty because of an attitude of strict adherence to the bylaws, others benefit from them. The one member per profession can certainly be considered a strength of the organization.

A few things you might want to keep in mind. BNI does not allow its members to join other networking groups with the structure of one person representing each profession. And also, even though BNI is a large MLM organization, its frowned upon to represent an MLM or similar business opportunity, only its products.


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