From time to time we get asked questions about how BNI works, whether or not it’s right for your business, what is expected of members and so on. That’s why we have compiled a short series of FAQ’s here. Hopefully you will find this information useful and it will answer your questions, but, if you need more information then please get in touch and one of our Leadership Team will answer any additional queries you might have.
Can anyone join a Chapter?
Only one person from each professional category can join a BNI chapter. This is so that there is no competition or conflict of interest amongst the members and so that everyone can feel confident discussing their business and asking for referrals. But there are a vast number of categories to choose from so, yes, just about anyone can make an application for consideration by the Membership Committee.
How do you know if new members are reputable?
Firstly, the growth of the chapter is all based on word of mouth, so before a prospective member even comes to a meeting, they will have spoken to someone or been invited by someone in the group. If they are interested in joining the chapter, our Visitor Hosts will conduct a brief interview before they hand in their application, just to make sure they understand the commitments involved in being a member. Lastly, the application for membership asks for two references and we have a Membership Committee who check them before accepting the new member.
What if a member gets a referral and does poor work?
When you join BNI, you agree to a code of ethics, which includes a commitment to quote fairly for work and to complete it to a high standard. If anyone feels that a member is not upholding that code of ethics, they can make a complaint to the Membership Committee, who will investigate the claim and decide upon an appropriate course of action, which might include training, mentorship or in rare cases, exclusion from the chapter.
Which occupations benefit most from BNI?
The question should not be which professions benefit most from BNI, but which types of people benefit most from BNI. BNI works for many, many types of professions and businesses. If you are focused, committed, enthusiastic and proactive both in your business and your BNI membership, then you will succeed.
Are members supposed to bring visitors?
Yes, along with referrals, one of the ways that members contribute to their BNI chapter is by bringing visitors. Visitors are the lifeblood of the chapter, as every visitor is a potential customer for the members and it’s a real buzz for members to present their business to someone new. Of course, we are always looking for new members so it’s great when we have a visitor who is interested in joining under one of our open categories. But for the most part, we are simply excited to be growing our network and helping visitors with their own businesses where we can.
Do regulations/ethical rules for certain professions prohibit participation in BNI?
BNI understands the importance of regulation and ethics in certain professions and acknowledges that these rules can differ by location. In the event that BNI’s policies conflict with a member’s professional regulations, the professional regulations will prevail, but will not prohibit membership. However, before making an application, it is the prospective member’s responsibility to check for any such conflicts and ensure that BNI membership does not violate any of their professional obligations.
If I specialise in a field within my profession, am I expected to be an expert in all aspects of my profession?
BNI understands that many professions are broad and that people often specialise within their industry. BNI does not expect, nor does it encourage, any professional to conduct or participate in work in which they do not have expertise. On the contrary, BNI prohibits professionals from acting outside of the scope of their abilities.
I am worried that I won’t be able to bring referrals to the group. Is BNI still right for me?
New members are often concerned that they will struggle to bring referrals and visitors to the group. Don’t worry, BNI provides lots of training on these topics and it is expected that new members take a bit of time to get into the swing of things. Gradually, you will become more adept and confident at spotting referral opportunities in the course of your day to day business, which in turn will earn the trust of your fellow members who will give you business in return.