Once you have visited a chapter that you believe will be a good fit for you, you can apply for membership with the Membership Committee of the chapter. This process involves filling out an online membership application and an interview.
You can use the "Apply Now" link on the chapter website after you've visited, or you can receive that link directly from the Membership Committee of the chapter that you are hoping to join.
The first step: Find a chapter and visit to see what we are all about.
If you can't find a vacancy: Phone our office or contact one of our directors. Explaining a BNI meeting is like giving a haircut over the phone - not very effective. BNI meetings are best experienced in person.
Most chapters have a nominal meeting fee to cover the room and meal charges. You will have the opportunity to stand and present a commercial for your company (unless your competitor is a member - then you simply "observe"). Bring plenty of business cards because you will also have a chance to pass them to all of the members.
Networking requires commitment. The most successful chapters of BNI are comprised of participants who are sincerely committed to helping one another through networking. They are a team. As a participant in BNI, you are responsible for complying with the policies and guidelines of the organization. A partial list of the policies of BNI are listed below:
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 focussed 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, 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: Many professions are broad and 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.