FAQs - Frequently Asked Questions About Networking With BNI in Surrey
How much does it cost?
Face to face meetings cost £15, BNI online meetings are free to visit. If you decide that BNI is a good fit for your business and choose to apply then there are additional fees. These are always fully explained by the dedicated visitor host who will answer all your questions at the end of the meetings. Even if you have no intention of applying to join BNI, you are very welcome to have two visits with our compliments.
Are there forced referrals?
Absolutely not. This is a common misconception of BNI. BNI is based on relationships: know, like and trust. Once you get to know the other members of your group, establish rapport and then fully trust them, you will start to be 'mentally switched on' to looking for business opportunities for them from your contacts and day to day interactions. Before you know it, you're a natural referrer and people are coming to you asking "do you know a good". There is also lots of support and coaching workshops available, included as part of your BNI membership to help you with this aspect.
I’ve done networking before – it doesn’t work for me.
No problem - BNI is not right for everyone, in fact only 1 in 5 people who visit BNI end up applying and being accepted as a member. Equally it's important to understand that BNI is a referrals organisation that also does networking. Not a networking group. When you join BNI and engage with your group, you will receive referrals: introductions to potential customers. That's a crucial part of the BNI system - it's very different to relaxed networking without a business focus. People join BNI to get results.
What do you get for your money?
You get access to the BNI system in your chosen group, a welcome pack and unlimited access to live trainings and recorded workshops on the BNI Business Builder platform.
How often are the meetings?
BNI meetings are weekly - but as a visitor you can come to the next convenient meeting. Don't worry if you don't think you can commit to weekly meetings as a member - it's always worth visiting. At the very least you will have connected with a great group of local business owners and you never know where that will lead. You're very welcome to visit BNI on up to two occasions, even if you have no intention of applying.
Can you spread the payments?
Yes - BNI have partnered with PayPal credit which offers 0% interest for the first four months. The cost of this credit facility is borne by BNI.
Does BNI work better for certain professions?
No. However there are certain professional categories which are more popular. Success in BNI is entirely correlated with an individual's ability to embrace the system. Members who take the time to understand how to use BNI are generally the members who get the best return on their investment, regardless of professional speciality.
Can I send a substitute if I am unable to attend?
Absolutely! Yes. You are not expected to attend every week - as a new member you will receive mentoring to help you get off to a great start in BNI, which includes guidance on how to find a great stand-in to represent your business when you're away.
I don’t know anyone that could stand in for me..
No problem - in the worst case, there are many BNI members of other groups who are more than happy to act as a substitute for you. BNI members help each other out - it's what we're about :-)
Can I share a membership with another person?
Sadly not. BNI only works if there if one person as the primary member. However it is quite usual to have a business colleague as a regular substitute.
Can I join more than one chapter?
As a company yes - definitely as long as you have different individuals to represent your company in the other groups that you join. As an individual no - you can only join one chapter.
Is BNI only for small companies?
Generally BNI members have 1-50 employees and 0 - £3m turnover. Remember though it's all about who they know, not how big they are..
Does BNI kick you out if you don’t turn up?
BNI does have an attendance policy. Imagine if you'd prepared a cracking elevator pitch and half of your group didn't turn up to see it - you would feel let down right? Accountability is an important part of the BNI system. That said, of course no BNI group will just kick you out if you miss one or two meetings - they will check that you're ok first and foremost. All being well, they will then offer support in finding substitutes etc to make sure you're represented well next time.
Can 1 person join but cover more than one professional specialism category?
No - this wouldn't be fair on the other members who have paid for one seat and only talk about that professional speciality in the weekly meetings.
Why might some individuals not be well suited to BNI?
As a visitor, anyone is very welcome to visit on up to two occasions, no strings attached. As a member, often the commitment to attend the majority of the weekly meetings is not a good fit for business owners who travel frequently for example. Equally many business owners are locked out of their nearest groups due to there being only one person allowed per professional speciality.
How long will it take for me to earn my membership back?
That's a very tough question to answer. It's like saying if I join a gym - how long will it take me to get fit? Forever if you never go - a few months if you go regularly and take the advice of a personal trainer. It's the same with BNI - your group is the marketing department (the gym) of your business. If you turn up to most meetings, engage in the training workshop and put the ideas that resonate into practise for example by having 121 meetings with the other members, then you can expect a return on your investment fairly quickly. Particularly if you target your elevator pitch to asking for a specific referral request (there's a training just on that topic).
How do I choose a chapter?
Generally we recommend that you go with the group that is geographically nearest you with the most relevant trades & professions. There are also BNI groups on at different times of the day to suit everyone.
What if I want to change chapter or I move address?
You can transfer at any time as long as you have at least twelve months of membership credit. Subject to acceptance by the receiving membership committee.
What makes BNI different from other networking groups?
BNI groups are structured, supportive groups that pass qualified business referrals which are quality checked and tracked. No other networking groups come close in terms of the support that is offered.
Can I network nationally or internationally across the BNI community?
Yes, definitely, that's where BNI comes into its own! There are many forums and national and global networking events to take part in.
I already have lots of work, so how this help me?
Referrals from BNI give you choice. You can choose which area to grow your business and therefore let go of customers you'd rather not have.