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BNI Vermont
P.O. Box 64737
Burlington, VT 05406
T: (802) 557-0111

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Started in January 1985 by Dr. Ivan R. Misner, Founder & Chairman of BNI, BNI provides a positive, supportive, and structured environment for professionals to further their business through referral marketing.

Networking requires commitment. The most successful chapters of BNI are comprised of participants who are sincerely committed to helping one another through networking. They are a team. As a participant in BNI, you are responsible for training the members of the chapter about your area of expertise, being open to learning the areas of the industry of the other members of the chapter and complying with the policies and guidelines of the organization. A partial list of the policies of BNI are listed below:

The first step is to find a chapter in order to see what we are all about.

  • Only one person from each professional specialty is permitted to join a chapter of BNI.
  • All participants should represent their primary occupation, not a part-time business.
  • Attendance is critical. If you cannot attend a meeting, you may send a substitute. This will not count as an absence.
  • Participation in the chapter is a key to the success of all individuals in the group. Members can participate by bringing bona-fide referrals and/or visitors to their BNI chapter.

Explaining a BNI meeting is like giving a haircut over the phone - not very effective. BNI meetings are best experienced in person.  While in attendance, you will have the opportunity to stand and do a short 1-minute (or less) presentation about your company (unless your competitor is a member… then you simply "observe"). Bring LOTS of business cards because you will also have a chance to pass them to all of the members.

If you are unable to find a vacancy for your profession, or there isn't a chapter in your area, contact Executive Director, Vickie Wacek at Vickie@BNIVermont.com or 802-557-0111.

The benefits of membership are many!

1. Increased exposure to many professionals and businesses;

2. Building solid business relationships that will last for the rest of your life;

3. Tools to network more effectively, including educational workshops and mentoring;

4. Visibility, Credibility, and Profitability for each of our members;

5. And much, much more!!!

Excerpts from:  The World's Best Known Marketing Secret

Q: Can anyone join a chapter?

A: Yes, with the exception that we only take one person per professional specialty. If you are a Residential Real Estate agent and we already have one, we can refer you to another chapter, or work with you to open another chapter. Of course, if you are a Commercial Real Estate agent, you could be eligible to join this chapter.

Q: How do you know new members are reputable?

A: The application process includes an in-person interview and reference checks, all conducted by members of the chapter in the Membership Committee.  And because this is referral marketing, before a visitor even comes to a meeting, they have to have spoken to someone or been invited by someone in the group. We collaborate to confirm the integrity of applicants prior to approving their application.

Q: What if a member gets a referral and does poor work?

A: Part of the structure of BNI is that each chapter has an ethics committee (called the Membership Committee).  It is imperative that anyone who gives a referral and finds out it was not satisfactorily handled must report it to the Membership Committee, who will handle the situation with the intention to support both members through to a solution.

Q: What occupations benefit the most from networking?

A: With decades of experience in referral marketing, we have learned that it is not the occupation that is important; it is the attitude of the individual. If you think your business would benefit from meeting new people and teaching others about your business, then BNI is a good fit for you to visit and consider submitting an application.  We will consider any occupation for membership. If you are focused, you have business goals, and you are willing to make a commitment to other motivated business professionals such as yourself, you are most likely the person we want in the group.

Q: Are members supposed to bring visitors?

A: We encourage all members to bring visitors for those occupations that are open in the chapter.  There are great networking opportunities for the businesses of both our members and for our visitors! 

Q: Do ethical rules for certain professions prohibit participation in BNI?

A: BNI understands the importance of the ethical concerns governing certain professions and acknowledges that rules can differ by location and profession. As such, all BNI chapters have professionals bound by certain ethical standard (such as health professionals and attorneys), and they are represented ethically.  BNI would be happy to put an interested person in touch with one of these professionals to help them understand how it works.  BNI requires its members to uphold the rules of their profession so as not to violate the professional's ethical obligations. In the event that BNI's general rules could potentially violate a professional's ethical code, BNI's rules are superseded by the dictates of the professional's ethics' code. Significantly, a primary objective of BNI is to educate its membership in ways to market and grow business. It is BNI's intent to ensure that this is permitted.

Q: If I specialize in a field within my profession, am I expected to be an expert in all aspects of my profession?

A: No.  BNI understands that many professions are broad and that people often specialize within their profession. BNI does not expect, nor does it encourage, any professional to participate in an area in which the professional does not have expertise. On the contrary, BNI prohibits professionals from acting outside of the scope of their abilities.

Q: My profession does not let me directly solicit business. Is BNI still right for me?

A: Yes.  BNI's primary objective is to assist its members in ways to improve their business and to educate them concerning how they can effectively network. Business professionals receive referred business when their expertise is known among other business professionals, and when those other business professions reach a comfort level with them. BNI provides a forum that allows members build their businesses without soliciting.