How long should you spend at BNI?

I just rejoined BNI, after taking a 2 year break. For those who don’t know, it’s a referral networking organisation, with each group having weekly breakfast meetings. I joined in 2002, did 12 years, then decided “that’s it for me” and left in 2014. but visiting a new group in 2016 got me re-enthused. I am now a member for over a year at BNI St Paul’s – so let me know if you want to visit!

I am a bit more wary and savvy then when I joined my previous groups and have adapted my approach as a result. It’s a part of my networking for sure, but it doesn’t take over everything. A nice balance!

So, has rejoining been worth it?

People who ask that are asking about one thing mainly. Have I made back enough money?

Well let’s take the £ equation. In 1 year since joining BNI St Paul’s, I have done a few small projects, to the value of £2K. Nothing big. But there are some really good reasons to stick it out! And I have three for you now:

  1. The reactive referral: If you are known by your fellow BNI members as the member who does X, then when they get that question “Know anyone who does X?” or “I really need some help with my X!” then your fellow BNI member can eagerly jump in and say “I know someone, I will introduce you”
  2. The continued education: It took you a long time to know so much about your work that it just rolls off your tongue. How would others really know about it like you do? Over time, hearing you do your 60 seconds, they get clearer and clearer, and learn just that incremental bit more. Over time, that information will become familiar. For example, the guy at my BNI group who does contract cleaning of offices, care homes and schools – I know his cleaners are trained in all the health and safety, handling special chemicals, and they’ve got some special clearance (from the police!) to be able to work in schools, and they’re all paid the London living wage, which shows off his values, care and attention. I know he works with care home and schools. I know all this because of his 60 seconds every week! So I can talk about it!
  3. The “Givers Gain”: Ok so maybe you don’t get the referrals you want straight off the bat. But once you get your mojo on and start really working at getting referrals for others, the reciprocal factor kicks in, and they really will feel slightly guilty if they don’t put in a smidgen more effort. Your referral giving abilities also take time, you have to get to know your fellow members and learn how to talk about them and “sell” them!

My answer? It always depends – and you have to be good with attendance and 121s and your 10mins and all those things that make you a good BNI Member, that goes without saying.

If you really want a definite answer – I’d say stick with it at least 2 years, and give it a proper effort on all counts and you should start feeling the proper benefits in your business.

Need more advice? Happy to chat – just get in touch – I’m super seasoned as a BNI member and really happy to help! Plus you might want to visit my group. So definitely ask if you’re interested!

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  1. Brilliant article! And BNI St Paul’s are brilliant too!

  2. It is the nice reminder for a member for motivation.

  3. I was in BNI for 8 years. It was a good experience, but as I became more successful it seemed to consume more and more of my time until I seemed to be spending nearly 1 full working day on BNI. Was the investment in time worth it? Maybe. But it also seemed BNI didn’t want you to be overly successful because it meant you didn’t need them.

    As an expanding one-man business I always felt trapped by the business. I couldn’t get away for a long break. After I left BNI, I realised I wasn’t trapped by the business, I was trapped by BNI with the strict attendance policy and everything else that goes with it.

    I would still recommend BNI, I am happy to have been a member, but even happier I’m no longer part of it.

    There is life after BNI, and its good!

  4. I committed to a year and BNI Biscayne connections Miami Florida but the members kicked me out after 9 months not even letting me complete my full year with the reason that I just wasn’t getting the referrals that I should. I explained to him that as a commercial real estate professional deals take time to put together and I didn’t expect immediate results and I wanted to continue for a second year but they would not let me turns out they had their sites on a current member who is a book reseller to replace me as commercial realtor. Little did I know this until after I left. So you can see how I feel that there are unscrupulous individuals with ulterior motives that really have done a disservice to the BNI model

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