What do you do at a BNI Meeting?

When invited to a BNI meeting you should first recognize that another business individual felt you and or your business is worthy of attending BNI. While BNI is made up of many different businesses they only allow businesses who are legitimate businesses. An invite is a compliment. We'll breakdown what do you do at a BNI Meeting.

  1. Meeting - Ensure that you've got your meeting time and location figured out. When you've selected to visit a BNI Chapter you should receive a Zoom meeting link (if online) or an in-person address for the meeting location. If you've not located or receive this information you can contact the President of the Chapter found on the Chapter's website. If you were indirectly invited you can simply contact the person who invited you.
  2. Dress to impress - This is a business function. Always dress to the room or above. Most chapters will have a wide range of attire. Anywhere from jeans and a t-shirt to a full suit. Surround yourself with business you want to do business with but go as how you intend on doing business. You might make people feel uncomfortable because you're wearing a suit but if that's how you conduct yourself that's how you should go. Set your own standard for your business and find the chapter that you want to do business with.
  3. Bring Business Cards. You will be asked to provide a single business card for every member of the chapter. This is true for in-person and less for Zoom. Zoom meetings it's recommended to share your contact info in the Chat section. Provide your name, what you do (title), business name, phone, and email. If you're a serious networking ask for everyone's contact info. Not every member will contact you because you put your contact info in the Chat. If you want a meeting you'll have to do the work. Best to not leave your success in the hands of someone else. Take initiative and ask for contact info to ensure you get it. For in-person meetings each member will provide you with their business cards.
  4. The first 15 minutes of the meeting time (start time) is for networking! BNI is excellent at recognizing networking may be new for some businesses and they have volunteers who are specifically assigned to welcome you in and help you begin networking.
  5. Try to connect with a few businesses. You may find yourself wanting to sell to a business during this time, don't. When you're visiting a chapter you're supposed to be prospecting the chapter. If you show up and start selling it will become obvious to other members that you're not interested in networking but you're interested in SELLING. Don't sell, network. Don't understand the difference? BNI would be a good opportunity for you to learn.
  6. BNI is very structured in there's an agenda. The agenda helps ensure efficiency and productivity. There will be an Educational Moment, each week the chapter receives insightful information that's helpful toward business growth, chapter development, sales, economy, and or contributing information. After the Educational moment is an opportunity for YOU to hear what each member's business is. Depending on the size of the chapter this is 20-60 seconds of pitch time. Each member, stands up and pitches their business to you. Once members have finished going around the room YOU will have an opportunity to pitch your business to the whole group. This is your chance to provide and sales opportunities.
  7. One-two members will provide an 8 minute presentation. An extended pitch of their business. It's 8 minutes for each speaker. Most chapters is two speakers for a total of 16 minutes. You might be thinking 16 minutes is a long time but if you've never pitched your own business this would be a great learning opportunity for you to see how someone else pitches their business.
  8. Referrals and Testimonials is another opportunity for each member to verbalize what referrals and or testimonial they have for the week. YOU too will be asked to provide something, usually it's a testimonial to the chapter itself. There're no rules but this is what people are often most comfortable with.
  9. Visitors get to hear about the costs and how to signup for BNI. Then visitors are asked to leave the room and connect with a "Visitor Hosts" who's specifically training in answering questions you might have about BNI. The costs of BNI vary and go up with inflation just like everything else. Most business who activity participate in BNI make their money back.
  10. Once you've finished your meeting with your Visitor Host you may return to the group for additional networking.
  11. Post meeting connections - BNI is a closed group. Many will be reluctant to do business with you outside of BNI unless they really want your products and or services. BNI rewards its members with points for referring to other BNI members. There's a good chance there's a member with your services somewhere. Want their business, become a member.
  12. You may only attend a BNI chapter as a visitor twice. After that you may still attend as a Guest, which means you don't pitch your business and can just watch.
  13. You can visit as many different chapters as you want until you find the right chapter for your business.

That's it. That's what you do at a BNI meeting as a visitor.


Associated article: Does BNI really work?

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