Since long, I wanted to write a review about BNI and my experience with it. I have been a member of BNI since 13th of September 2016. It’s almost been 6 months now. I will take you through what is BNI, how it works, costs involved, advantages & drawbacks. Please note, these are all my personal opinions and only influenced by activities of Surat South Region. I haven’t visited any other chapters or regions till now so I don’t know much about them.
What is BNI – Business Network International ?
BNI is an organisation, started by Ivan Misner in mid 1980s. It started out as a group meeting where different business owners used to meet at a place and they exchanged business referrals. Over a period, these meetings got more refined and it got a successful and proper structure to conduct those meetings to reap sweetest fruits.
Members of BNI meet on weekly basis on a same day of the week at the same time for 2 hours. I will take you through the meeting structures and activities involved later in the article.
BNI is divided in Regions in India. Surat South is one of the region. These regions have Chapters and I am a member of BNI Benchmark Chapter in Surat South Region.
What is a Chapter?
A Chapter consists of varieties of Business Owners from different categories. To avoid competition, one chapter can have only one person from such category. A chapter can be formed once it reaches 25 members. I am sharing list of BNI Benchmark Members so that you can get the idea.
Also, Leadership Team is chosen from this chapter and then LT takes care of the operations of the chapter on weekly basis. The chapter gets support from Regional Directors as and when needed. In our case Mr. Gaurav Singhavi and Dr. Nidhi Singhavi are the Regional Directors.
Link : https://goo.gl/fZn5v8
Some of the BNI Jargons
Weekly Presentation : In Weekly Presentation, Every Member has to present his business in 30 Seconds. He can add varieties of information he wants. He can also ask for specific referrals. Below is my 30 Seconds.
Hello Everyone. Good Morning.
I am Mihir Naik from MultiPack. I represent Corrugated Boxes Manufacturing.
We manufacture & supply Packaging Boxes/Cartons as per customer’s requirements in various quality grades, shapes, designs & styles.
We are in this business since 1996 and our esteem clientele consists of Garden Silk Mills, Kejriwal Group, Eagle Group, Kribhco, Euro Foods, Zota Healthcare and much more.
I want you to connect me to Mr Ashok Kejriwal of Harmony Yarns.
Mihir Naik from MultiPack
In weekly presentation, all members make note of what other members are asking. If anyone
Referrals : Referral are like leads. If one of my friends needs TV and he ask me for it. I connect him with a very good supplier who is Gaurav Shah from Pushpa Electronics who represent Home Electronics in BNI Chapter. I refer my friend to Gaurav. Whether the business will convert or not is totally depends on dealings between them. WE ARE NOT SUPPOSED TO TAKE ANY COMMISSIONS OR BROKERAGE. This works purely on Givers Gain philosophy.
Thank you Notes : If I have given a referral to Gaurav. He is able to convert it into a business. Then he will get the payment in his Bank. Once he gets the payment. He has to give me Thank you note. Because I helped him converting business worth rs. 70k for example. So these thank you notes are recorded once the member receives payment.
One to Ones : To give more business to fellow members, you first have to understand his/her business. BNI Members are encouraged to meet personally on one to one basis with properly structured BIO Sheet, Contactsphere and Last 10 Clients. We meet with each other and exchange referrals. As per my opinion, ONE to ONES ARE THE BEST BUSINESS CONVERTERS. A typical one to one takes around 3-4 hours.
BNI Benchmark Meetings are conducted every Tuesday. It starts at 7.30 and ends at 10.00.
7.30 AM to 8.00 AM = Open Networking over High Tea
Meeting New Visitors and Fellow Members, Followup on Referrals passed.
8.00 AM to 9.30 AM = BNI Benchmark Meeting
8.00 to 8.20 = Welcome & Educational Slot
8.20 to 8.50 = Weekly Presentation & Asking Referrals
8.50 to 9.10 = 2 BNI Members Presentation(8 mins Each)
9.10 to 9.30 = Passing of Referrals, Thank you Notes & Testimonials
9.30 AM to 10.00 AM = Open Networking over Breakfast
These meetings are conducted in timely manner and BNI Culture is very strict with timings. That’s a good part.
Costs Involved in BNI
BNI is NOT an MLM scheme. You don’t get paid when you join another member. You get paid by converting more business with the help of other members. It’s as simple as that. So nothing fishy about their model.
Still there are several costs involved and I want to share it with practicality.
First Year Registration Fees : 4,715/- (includes taxes)
First Year Membership Fees : 25,934/- (includes taxes)
Weekly meeting Fees (800/- x 52 Weeks) : 41,600/- (Generally paid in Cash at Venue)
These costs include cost of venue, projector, sound, breakfast, stationary etc.
Other events fees (Approx) : 5,000/-
These costs include Social Gatherings with Family, Door Prizes etc.
So a rough figure comes to 78,000/- per year.
- You get to meet lot of new people. It’s a big plus.
- You get to know about certain business you never knew existed.
- You create great bonds with some of people and you get very good friends from there because you are meeting them on weekly basis. And believe me, the week rotates very fast. 😀
- Your network becomes strong and you get to know about cultures of different businesses.
- All the fellow members are your sales rep, they are constantly thinking to give you references because incentives are set in such a way that in BNI meetings, the givers are rewarded the highest.
- You also learn some Business Etiquette, Manners and how you have to conduct yourself.
- You are given access to BNI Global Connect where you can find and connect with any BNI Member across the world. If you want form a partnership overseas than this platform gives you change to do it.
- One to Ones also gives you access to some of the best insights in the industry. BNI fellow members put more trust on you and shares some of the information which you never knew. It’s useful to build perspectives. It’s important.
- BNI Meetings are meticulously structured and it only talks about Business. There are no random rants like Politics and other matters discussed. There are not sub-agendas like Charity, Public Awareness or things like these are involved. BNI is purely for business. You give business to others. Others will give business to you.
- Your whole BNI experience depends on the members of BNI Chapters. The more powerful your fellow members are, the more response you are stand to get. So when you join a chapter, see to it whether the chapter consists of powerful net-workers or not.
- It eats up lot of time. Put aside 10-12 hours out of your week. If you cant dont join BNI. Otherwise you won’t be able to contribute in proper way. In turn, you will end-up generating less referrals. Highest business is converted by the one who gives highest referrals. The data shows the same in Surat South region.
- Attendance policy is very strict. You can not have more than 3 absent in rolling 6 months. You can send substitute for 3 times to the meetings. Substitutes are not considered absent. So you can stay away only 6 times out of 26 times. If you work involves lot of travel then it’s not for you.
BNI Review – Conclusion :
Last 6 months experience has been great in BNI Benchmark. I was able to convert 3 good leads and I am doing good business out of it. Also, my business is continuous in nature so I stand to get regular business out of those 3 customers. There are few more leads are under conversion. I am hoping to convert them in future. All of the members have been very cooperative and they were very aggressive in helping me out. .
Whether you will have the same experience or not is totally dependent on the business you are in and the chapter you get into. However successful your product may be, you wont be able to convert more business if the members of the chapters doesn’t carry great authority and experience. So look it before you join.
If you have any other question, feel free to ask.