The Top 10 BNI Myths exposed – do you know the truth?

What do you think of BNI? What do you truly know about BNI? For many the mere mention of BNI creates a Marmite response – you either love it or hate it! However, we believe many concerns about BNI are actually founded on misconceptions, so here are a few of the myths, assumptions and rumours put to rest.

If you don't pass a referral every week then you're out!

This isn't the board room of the apprentice – a) we aren't that harsh about anything and b) this couldn't be further from the truth. Members of BNI work to the principle of givers gain, aka: what goes around, comes around. Therefore everyone is looking for authentic and genuine business opportunities, not a random referral that's only purpose is to keep up referral numbers and ensure someone stays in the group. That is completely against our ethics, members do not appreciate referrals that do not meet that criteria.

It is however true that members are expected to make a contribution each week, however that contribution could be a referral, bringing a visitor, giving a testimonial etc.

Only business start-ups join BNI

The facts show otherwise. More than half of BNI members have been in business more than 5 years. About a quarter more than 2 years ( and less than 5) and only about 10% are less than one year. BNI is for all businesses. In our chapter we have some members who have been in business over 30 years and have been members of South Cheshire BNI for over 15 years. So it's clearly not just for startups and clearly works.

BNI does not work

Members of BNI Cheshire and North Wales gave hundreds of thousands of referrals last year resulting in tens of millions of pounds worth of business. Your share in this is guaranteed provided you embrace the system that is followed by BNI members worldwide. The BNI system has been developed over 25 years in 64 countries and is designed and proven to maximise the amount of business passed in the groups.

You have to attend every meeting

BNI ask its members to make 3 commitments: one is to be present at every meeting or to send a substitute. This policy ensures that your business is represented each week and this is one of the elements that makes the system work.

The key thing in dispelling this myth is the substitute program which means you can send almost anybody in your place, this gives them the opportunity to represent their business as well as yours.

BNI members get organised in either attending or in sending a substitute, this approach maximises the business that is passed. Ultimately life happens and things can happen at short notice meaning you may miss a meeting with no sub, we understand that.

The reason why members need to be present at meeting is simple. Imagine if you were expecting 40 members of a group to be there when you visited, but that day 10 decided they had other things to do. How disappointed would you be?

BNI is just about getting more business for you

As well as getting business BNI has a comprehensive education program. For example; 9/10 members agree that BNI has helped them with public speaking. BNI is not ashamed about the fact that we are all there to get more business, but we do it by giving first before we expect to receive and by building credibility.

BNI is expensive

Cost is totally relative to everybody but some people believe that BNI is expensive. In a recent survey 4/5 of BNI members said that the organisation is value for money and 9/10 said that they would recommend BNI to family and friends. Asking people who have paid the BNI fees if BNI represents good value seems to me to be the best gauge of the value BNI delivers.

BNI is a fashion and will not be around soon

BNI is over 25 years old it is still growing and is the largest and most successful business referral organisation in the world today.

BNI groups are desperate for members

BNI members understand that being a member of BNI is a privilege and we realise that BNI is not right for everybody. If you want to join a group then you will go through an application process to see if the fit is right for both parties. BNI groups want to grow to 40+ members and we look constantly for like minded local businesses to put in an application to join a local group.

You have to join to get anything from BNI

BNI welcomes visitors at all meetings and we also run open networking meetings where non-members are more than welcome.

If you want to come along, just get in touch. if you choose not to join us again, that's fine.

You only meet the same group of people each week.

BNI members can visit other BNI groups, we also hold local, regional, national and International members days. The people in the room are constantly inviting others to the group and of course they are meeting more and more people each week. BNI members understand that they are not selling to those in the room but to who thos in the room may know.

What's the difference between a networking group and a referral network?


Simple... One usually involves lots of coffee and chatting, the other helps grow your business with genuine business introductions


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