Your 7 Point Success Checklist For Visiting Your First BNI Chapter

Congratulations! You’ve taken a remarkable step toward building your business by visiting a local BNI Chapter! In case you were not aware, BNI is the most successful structured networking organization in the world. With over 280,000 members worldwide, joining BNI plugs members in to a massive network of local professionals with whom to pass warm referrals and build relationships. Here are a few highlights of BNI:

  • BNI chapters allow one member per profession which reduces competition for everyone
  • BNI chapters hold weekly group meetings and members hold individual meetings with each other known as “one to ones”
  • BNI is the most successful structured networking and business growth organization in the world

So here are some things you’ll need to know in order to make the most of your first visit to a BNI chapter:

1. Think “connect,” not “sell.”

As you’re meeting new people in the BNI chapter, you might be thinking, “Oh! This person would be a great prospect for my business!” This might be true, and it’s absolutely a good idea to reach out to those people you feel could benefit from your offering. However, keep in mind that a successful BNI member is one who sells “through” (not “to”) their chapter partners. The beauty of your BNI connections is that each of them has a network of hundreds of people with whom they interact on a daily and weekly basis. The potential for business that can be generated from those networks is far greater than that which can be generated from the individual members in your group. Therefore, focus on building relationships and trust before focusing on selling to the individual members.

2. Make your 60 second “Weekly Presentation” memorable!

During weekly BNI meetings, each member and visitor gets to address the group about their business for roughly 60 seconds (this varies slightly depending on group size). This is known as the “Weekly Presentation.” Be specific, concise, and rehearse a few times beforehand. Your weekly presentation should include the following elements.

  • Your name, company name and location
  • What your company does
  • Who you help?
  • The problems you solve
  • Your desired referral - preferably the name of a specific person to whom you would like to be introduced, and why
  • The best way for people to contact you.

3. Understand some basic BNI terminology

  • BNI - BNI stands for Business Network International. It is a worldwide network of professionals offering structured networking and business growth opportunities. Founded in 1985 by Dr. Ivan Misner, there are over 280,000 members and 9500 chapters worldwide.
  • One to one (121) - These are individual meetings held between members during the week outside of the weekly group meetings.
  • CEU - Short for Chapter Education Units, these are podcasts and other educational resources made available to BNI members. Access to CEUs alone make your BNI investment pay off dramatically.
  • Leadership Team - Each BNI chapter has a President, Vice President, Secretary/Treasurer, Membership Committee, Mentor Coordinator, Education Coordinator and Visitor Host.
  • The Power of One - The Power of One refers to the concept that a single action can make a world of difference. Additionally, BNI Members track progress and activity using the “Power of One Report” which aggregates each individual’s attendance at meetings, weekly CEUs, 121s, visitors and referrals.

4. Be ready to take notes

Many “first-time” BNI visitors are surprised, and often overwhelmed, by the number of people they meet. Be prepared to take notes on those members with whom you’re most interested in connecting.

5. Bring plenty of business cards

If your chapter is meeting in person, you’ll want to bring plenty of business cards to hand out to everyone. If your chapter is meeting virtually, be sure to have your contact information handy to share in the virtual “Chat.” Additionally, request a copy of the chapter roster so you can easily contact everyone you meet following the meeting. Anybody on the leadership team (President, VP or Secretary/Treasurer) will be able to provide this.

6. Don’t be intimidated

Each BNI Chapter has a visitor host team that is in charge of making all visitors feel welcomed and comfortable. These are amazing people who will answer all of your questions and introduce you to those members with whom you’d like to connect. At the end of each chapter meeting, there will be a visitor orientation designed to help you get all of your questions answered.

7. Go in with a goal

Like all goals, your goal for your first BNI meeting should be tangible and specific. For instance, here are a few:

  • “I’d like to have an answer to this question before the end of the meeting.”
  • “I’d like to communicate with at least 2 people following the meeting.”
  • “I’d like to schedule a meeting with at least 1 person following the meeting.”

That’s it! With this 7-point checklist, you will be set up for great success in your first BNI meeting! For more information or to find a chapter, please visit or visit us on Facebook at

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