Started in January 1985 by Dr. Ivan R. Misner, Founder & Chairman of BNI. BNI provides a positive, supportive, and structured environment for men and women to further their business through word-of-mouth marketing.
In Pittsburgh, our first chapter was formed in Mt. Lebanon in 1998, and our region has grown to support thirty groups of professionals who use word of mouth marketing techniques, coupled with a proven system of business networking to generate referrals for themselves and their chapter members.
BNI's proven system works in conjunction with other networking activities like the many Chamber of Commerce and works well in conjunction with Internet marketing and Social Media.
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 is listed below.
Most chapters have a nominal meeting fee to cover the room and meal charges. You will have the opportunity to stand and do a commercial for your company (unless your competitor is a member…then you simply "observe"). Bring LOTS of business cards because you will also have a chance to pass them to all of the members.
1. Increased exposure to many other people and businesses;
2. Building solid business relationships that will last for the rest of your life;
3. Tools to network more effectively, including educational workshops and mentoring;
4. Visibility, Credibility, and Profitability for each of our members;
5. And much, much more!!!
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: BNI understands that many professions are broad and that people often specialize in 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.