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BNI - Business Networking International

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Jan 16, 2009 12:53 am

Have any of you had any first hand experience with this organization?

Jan 16, 2009 1:48 am

Second hand experience. Know of folks who joned (mostly newer brokers) and had limited success. Most of the other members in BNI are new in their respective professions and have limited $, but they can and do refer to their friends and relatives. You have to eat, so why not eat with folks who are equally as interested in growing their business? Can’t hurt.

Jan 16, 2009 2:25 am

i work next to 3 people who are in bni.  they attribute all of thier success to bni.

they all say that bni works, if you work it.  they all are presidents of their chapter.  
Jan 16, 2009 3:04 am

I’ve been a member for 4 years. Depends on the chapter, i think. I cant say i have gotten great things out of it. The clients I;ve gotten are mostly the members themselves. But i have become friends with some of the members and i enjoy the meetings so I keep going.  And i find out about other stuff, like networking events, etc.
Bottom line, is if you get one decent referral a year, it more than pays for itself.
BNI itself, in my opionion, is useless, they are more of a pain in the ass than anything, but the people in the chapters are what its all about.

Jan 16, 2009 3:12 am

I work with an advisor that joined for 1 year. He didn't get 1 lead and said the groups only referrals were to the ice cream lady and the florist. You have to bring referrals to the group, that is required. The only problem is that they don't have to bring referrals to you. <?: prefix = o ns = "urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:office" />

I have heard of some success with BNI but it all depends on the group. If it looks like a solid group, try it out.  Just beware of the potential for nothing.

I have had, what would appear to be, better luck with volunteer professional organizations like the chamber, toastmasters and rotary. I meet more people that don't seem pressured to make something happen.

That's my 2 cents.

Jan 16, 2009 2:32 pm

Two things (I am in BNI):

  First, it takes time for the members to trust you.  Sometimes years.   Second, it all depends on the group of people.  If you have a dog-walker, a florist, a landscaper, a house-sitter, and a massage therapist as your key members, you're screwed.  However, if you have a very good CPA, estate planning or divorce attorney, a good insurance person (that you don't compete with), mortgage broker, etc. - people in your circle of influence, and you all gel, then it can be priceless.  But it REALLY depends on the people.  You will get the very rare referral from someone outside your circle of influence.  So it's important to recruit members to your own little "power group".
Jan 16, 2009 3:29 pm

I have leads groups… I have a list in my office of the three chambers nearest to me and their list of leads group… And I purposely don’t send any business, referrals, anything to them… Those people would trade their soul and their clients just to generate new business.

  Instead of joining something... call up people you actually would need, cpa, attorneys, mortgage broker, insurance... and meet them individually or maybe make introductions.. that way you have your own group that isn't some BS leads group, but actually a network of professionals.... not peddlers.
Jan 16, 2009 3:43 pm

That’s actually a much better idea.  I have had little success trying to get the “right” people into my group, and I am focusing more effort on the key centers of influence that I want to work with.

Jan 16, 2009 4:12 pm

Yeah it takes about the same amount of time (1yr) to start to break in with these people as it does with leads groups, except I don’t have to worry about subjecting people to leads groups…

  I think going to lunch is a good idea... everyone eats lunch... eat around your area, most of these people eat at the same place every week, and sometimes day...
Jan 17, 2009 12:43 pm

I started a BNI group a few months ago. It’s definitely been worthwhile, I’ve only received 4 referrals but the business that resulted has more than paid for the membership. People feel more comfortable with you if you are in front of them every week.

  A rookie advisor became the top 1st year producer with almost all of his business coming from BNI referrals. He spent a lot of time with members outside of the meetings.
Jan 17, 2009 8:11 pm

BNI = Below Normal Income

Jan 18, 2009 1:58 am

I think Chambers and BNI groups are filled with people who need business, and don’t have any…

Jan 19, 2009 9:50 pm

uhhh, or people who want to take their biz to the next level.  i’ve heard that a great bni group/ chapter can do wonders, and i’ve also heard the converse.

  below normal income?  that's sad.  but sort of funny
Jan 19, 2009 10:36 pm

It really all depends on the chapter you join. There are chapters that can be very good and others that are a waste of time.
I know that first hand. The problem is that as a FA you dont really get to pick your chapter, because when a spot opens up, it usually fills really fast. I waited two years to find a spot and when i did it was a new chapter just forming and i was in the right place at the right time.

Jan 19, 2009 10:55 pm

Guys - thanks for all the feedback.  I attended a visitors day recently.  The chapter I’ve been invited to join is an existing one…the ‘financial planner’ spot was recently rendered vacant.  There were several competitors there…from Jones, TDWaterhouse, Primerica, and “Cornerstone”.  Only one I’d consider a competitor was the Jones guy…he was young but pretty sharp.  The Primerica guy showed up in a windbreaker and didn’t even bother to shave…kept talking about his link to Citi like it was an advantage…

Jan 19, 2009 11:52 pm

[quote=HymanRoth]…kept talking about his link to Citi like it was an advantage…

That is really funny

Jan 20, 2009 1:47 am


[quote=HymanRoth]…kept talking about his link to Citi like it was an advantage…

That is really funny

It was.

There is also already a succesful CPA and a property/casualty insurance guy in the chapter, and a big hitter real estate agent.  All good contacts I would think…

Jan 20, 2009 2:16 am

What is “Cornerstone”??

Jan 20, 2009 3:03 am

I have been in a BNI group for about six months.  I only get referrals from 4 of the 25 people.  I particpate and I try to give referrals to everyone.  I am looking at is as an alternative to some advertising.  I have received about 250,000 of new assets in six months.  Not a lot, but at least I can track where I am getting it from.  I am going to give it a year and make a decision from there.

Jan 20, 2009 7:48 pm

BNI = Below Normal Income

  That can be very true!   That's why you have to research the chapter before joining (or make a decision when renewing!)