Have questions about membership? Of course you do! There’s no such thing as a bad question. We value your questions, because they indicate a genuine interest. Below are the most common ones we get asked. If yours is not in this list, please contact us and we’ll be glad to answer.
Q: Can anyone join a chapter?
A: We only take one person per professional specialty. So, if you’re 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’re a commercial real estate person, you might be eligible to join this chapter, if the existing agent does only or primarily residential listings.
Q: How do you know new members are reputable?
A: The application asks for references and we have a membership committee that checks them. Before prospective members even come to a meeting they must have spoken to someone in the group or been invited. Before membership is approved, everyone is assigned a sponsor, and they are interviewed by at least two members.
Q: What if a member gets a referral and does poor work?
A: This rarely happens, but we do have a structure to deal with it. We have an ethics committee. Anyone who gives a lead which was not handled properly reports that to the membership committee, who will investigate.
Q: What occupations benefit the most from networking?
A: It is not the occupation, it’s 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, if they’re a viable candidate. BNI meetings are not casual open-to-anyone sessions, but made up of members and potential members, in order to optimize the referral potential of every meeting.
Q: What do I wear to a meeting?
A: Members come from many different professions, and BNI respects the diversity of accepted workplace dress codes. So just dress the way you would dress for an official business or client meeting in your position. If you’re a tradesman, you aren’t expected to wear a suit! But jeans are not appropriate, and the more “professionally” you are dressed, the more you give credibility about yourself to your sales team — the other members of the group.
Q: 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 in a small area of expertise 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: What’s the investment to join?
A: See our detailed fee information here. Membership is on an annual basis and costs about the same as a typical display ad running one time in a community newspaper. There is a one-time administration fee as well for new members. For this, you get a year’s worth of sales and referral activity by the other members of the chapter, working on your behalf to help build your business.
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.