What to Expect
Finding Your Network
Visiting the chapter is an important first step in finding your new referral network.
Before You Visit
To help you get the most out of your first BNI meeting, here are some things to know before you go.
Be Prepared Visit prepared to talk about your business. Members are interested in getting to know how connections with visitors can be mutually beneficial.
You’re the Expert Only one person from each profession specialty is allowed to join a chapter of BNI, eliminating the possibility of competition.
Meetings Meetings are high energy and run according to a structured agenda. Arrive on time always so you don’t miss out on any opportunities for networking.
Respect Your Craft The businesses our members represent are their full-time occupations, ensuring their position as resources and experts in their field.
The most successful members of BNI are those who are sincerely committed to helping one another.
Attendance is critical for members to best cultivate relationships with others in their chapter. Members are allotted three absences in a six-month period and can send a substitute in their place to avoid an absence. Outside of the weekly 90-minute meetings, members are encouraged to build relationships with other members by having One-to-Ones, opportunities to get to know another member and get a deeper look at another’s business.
Members pay an annual membership fee which gives them access to 52 networking meetings a year, professional development opportunities, experiences to help them become better businesspeople, podcasts, newsletters and more. Individual chapters may also set annual or monthly dues to cover the cost of the meeting space, refreshments and outside, member-only activities.
Frequently Asked Questions
Explore answers to frequently asked questions.
Visiting a chapter is the first step in finding your new referral partners. Once you have visited a chapter that you believe will be a good fit for you, you can apply for membership with the Membership Committee of the chapter. This process involves filling out an application and an interview with the Committee.
You can receive a paper application directly from the Membership Committee.
No, being sponsored is not a requirement to join. Upon joining a BNI Michiana, a new member may be assigned a mentor within the chapter, who will help coach them in developing relationships and in growing professionally and personally using BNI resources.
The application process includes an interview with the Membership Committee and a reference check. This allows our members to know that the new members of their network are in good standing in their profession. Members are also encouraged to have One-to-Ones with new members so they can get to know each other and better identify the strengths and weaknesses of their businesses, ensuring the best referrals can be passed.
Any occupation that can accept referrals can benefit from networking.
Of course! Visiting a BNI meeting is the best way for someone to decide if they are interested in becoming a member, and inviting someone to visit your chapter can be instrumental in helping your membership grow. Members are also welcome to invite others from their profession to visit, while they cannot be in the same chapter, the visitor may be interested in joining another chapter in the area.
If I Specialize in a Field Within My Profession, am I Expected to be an Expert in All Aspects of My Profession?
BNI does not expect any member to be an expert in all aspects of their profession. On the contrary, being a subject-matter expert in your field and primary area of focus can help the rest of the chapter better learn what you do and how to best refer you.
BNI understands the importance of the ethical concerns governing certain professions and acknowledges that rules can differ by location. As such, BNI requires members to uphold the rules of their professions to not violate their ethical obligations. In the event that BNI’s general rules could potentially violate a professional ethics code, BNI’s rules are superseded by the dictates of the profession’s ethics’ code.