Business Network International


Business Network International

Business Network International (trademarked by its abbreviation BNI) claims to be "the world's largest referral organization." [cite web |url=http://bni.com |title= BNI web page|accessdate=2008-02-22 ]

BNI was founded in 1985 by Dr. Ivan Misner, a consultant who now lectures and writes on networking and word-of-mouth marketing. Its motto is "Givers Gain" - members who provide referrals are theoretically more likely to receive themcite web |url=http://www.ccnmag.com/article/why_technology_is_rewarding_close_personal_relationships |title=Why Technology Is Rewarding Close Personal Relationships |accessdate=2008-09-17 |date=2006-02-23 |work= California Science & Technology News] . Chapters allow one person per professional classification, and prospective members must be approved via an application process.

Philosophy

BNI draws a distinction between a "referral" and a "lead." A lead is contact information for a prospect for a member's business, while a referral occurs only when the prospect has already expressed interest in the business in question, and is ready to be contacted by the referred BNI member. Referrals are about farming rather than hunting, and are only effective if the referrer has credibility in the community [cite web |url= http://ww2.resultsfoundation.com/index.php?id=478|title=Referring to Success|accessdate=2008-03-03] .

MLM

Business Networkers International is sometimes linked with MLM companies, by being tagged "MLM" in online articles [cite web |url= http://www.prweb.com/releases/networking/referral_networking/prweb411848.htm|title= Achieve Networking Excellence Through Accountability|accessdate=2008-02-22] , or by being referred to favorably by the representatives of those companies [cite web |url= http://joansenitz.wordpress.com/2007/12/08/30/|title= Can I Make It as an MLM/Network Marketer Weblog|accessdate=2008-02-22] . In fact, BNI is a franchise, and members do not get paid, directly or indirectly, for recruiting other members, and specifically forbids MLM representatives from marketing the business opportunity aspect of their businesses to other memberscite web |url= http://smallbusiness.yahoo.com/r-answers-a-20070713080036AAyM4MZ-k-BNI|title= BNI - Business Networking International?|accessdate=2008-02-22 |work=Yahoo! Small Business ] .

Criticisms

BNI has a strict attendance policy, permitting very few absences from weekly meetings. Members are encouraged to do business with other members, but there is no requirement to do so. Members are encouraged to do business with one another if they are comfortable with one another personally and professionally.

tatistics

*Number of Chapters: over 5,000 (as of 2007)
*Number of Members: 86,000 (approximate)cite news | first=Philip | last=Hopkins | coauthors= | title=Business network rewires the bush telegraph | date=2006-07-10 | publisher=The Age Company Ltd | url =http://www.theage.com.au/articles/2006/07/09/1152383611116.html?feed=html | work = | pages = | accessdate = 2007-10-22 | language = ]
*Number of Referrals: over 3.3 million (2006)
*Total Value of Referrals: $2.4 billion (U.S.) (2006)

References

* WestPort Minuteman, March, 10, 2005: http://www.zwire.com/site/news.cfm?BRD=1654&dept_id=57100&newsid=14119669&PAG=461&rfi=9
* The Business Press, February 21, 2005: http://www.thebizpress.com/profiles/stories/BP_News_Local_bp0221_profile.a162f.html
* Financial Times UK, September 14, 2004: http://www.ft.com/cms/s/0/3078f582-05ef-11d9-bff2-00000e2511c8.html?nclick_check=1
*Inspirator Magazine, January, 2004
*Jerusalem Post, March 4, 2005
*San Gabriel Valley Tribune, July 1, 2003


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