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BNI From Top To Bottom

3 min read
BNI From Top To Bottom

What is BNI?

BNI is a networking organization for small and medium sized businesses with chapters all over the world. Most groups have between ten and thirty members who meet once a week, usually in the early morning or at lunch. The purpose of BNI is to generate sales for its members through referrals. In joining a BNI group each member commits to actively looking for potential customers for other members–the members of each BNI group act as each other’s “sales team.” Each group has only one representative of any given profession or business, allowing all relevant referrals to go to that individual and ensuring that there is no competition within the group for referrals.

Each BNI group tracks the revenue generated from referrals by each member. This information is used both to monitor individuals and to track the success of the group as a whole, as well as the group’s progress towards its specific yearly revenue target. Each member’s standing within the group is also recorded. To do thisBNI uses a point system based on two things:

  • Passing a referral
  • Bringing a guest


BNI groups generally have one or two members waiting at the front of their meeting places to meet other members and guests as they arrive. Another member has the job of recording attendance, collecting fees and welcome guests. Members pay the chapter dues by the month and guests pay around $15 per meeting. Substitutes do not have to pay. Substitutes and guests also receive name tags. Usually there are about ten or fifteen minutes before the official start of the meeting for informal conversation between members and guests.

The meeting begins with an introduction of the guests, substitutes and executive members. This is followed by a brief description ofBNI by a member chosen at random by the groups president. Next comes a presentation by the groups education committee. These presentations are intended to improve members’ sales, marketing and networking skills.


Following the presentation by the education committee, members of the group begin, one at a time, doing sixty second introductions to tell the group and guests about their business. These introductions are timed, with a warning before the last 15 seconds. Usually the introductions contain the name of the member, their business and their ideal referral, but members are free to say anything they want in their 60 seconds. After members and substitutes, guests give their introductions. At most BNI groups substitutes speak on behalf of the person they are replacing, not for themselves.


After the 60 second introductions are finished, one member,different each week, gives a ten minute presentation about their business. The purpose of these presentations is to teach other members about the business so as to enable them to more effectively pass on referrals. There is usually a short question period after the presentation.

Next, the members of the chapter pass each other referrals. These referrals, and their value, are recorded on special forms and passed at the meeting to the intended recipient, while the chapter keeps another copy. Guests and subs are not expected to pass referrals, but are asked to give their impressions of the group and meeting.

The meeting is concluded with networking announcements and a quote, read by the groups president. Following the official end of the meeting, members often spend ten or fifteen minutes talking to each other and sometimes discussing referrals or possible referrals.

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