Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

BNI Vermont

Q1: What does BNI stand for?

A: BNI means "Business Network International". We are the network - our amazing professional members do the networking.  

Q2: What does BNI do?

A: Our mission is to help members increase their business through a structured, positive, and professional referral marketing program that enables them to develope long-term, meaningful relationships with quality business professionals.

Q3: How does BNI do this?

A: Our organization has seven Core Values, including our Givers Gain philosophy, Positive Attitude, Building Relationships, Lifelong Learning, Traditions + Innovation, Accountability, and Recognition.  We put these values to work by supporting local chapters of One Member Per Profession all over the world.  These chapters are supported through Structure, Commitment, and Education (see Questions 4-6 for details on these).

Q4: How is BNI Structured?

A: Our community chapters are organized so that no member needs to 'recreate the wheel'.  We host 90-minute meetings all of the world with groups as large as 130 members.  Within every chapter each member takes on a role so that the chapter operates smoothly with the "It Takes a Village" mentality for everyone to succeed.  These roles are on an annual rotation and include everything from our Presidents, Vice Presidents, and Secretary/Treasurers who oversee the weekly meeting and administration of operating the chapter, to our Mentor Team, Greeter Team, Marketing Team, and Education Coordinator.  Some chapters have even more roles depending on the skills of the individual members and needs of the chapter as a whole.

Q5: What is the Commitment part of BNI?

A: The commitment in BNI ranges from the top (our members) to the bottom (our international teams).  Our members are committed for training one another about their unique professions on a weekly basis through our 90-minute meetings and face-to-face meetings (what we call One-to-One meetings).  They are also committed to attending their meetings each week or sending a substitute for planned absences (although we do allow for emergency absences without a substitute).  Our Regional, National, and International Teams are committed to providing training, support, accountability, recognition, and individual mentoring on a request-basis.

Q6: How does BNI provide Education?

A: Recognizing the diversity within our world-wide membership, education is provided in many ways so that it is accessible and interesting to any member.  We provide a free, online education platform called BNI University for all active BNI members which provides access to hundreds of thousands of hours of education which is directed by the user.  We also provide weekly Podcasts from BNI's Founder, Dr. Ivan Misner, a monthly regional and international newsletter, dozens of books on networking, an weekly in-chapter training from each chapter's Education Coordinator.  We also provide education on a One-to-One basis as requested by any individual member from our regional teams, including BNI Ambassadors, BNI Director Consultants, BNI Executive Directors, and more.

Q7: Can anyone be a member of a chapter?

A: We only take one person per business specialty. So if you are a residential real estate person and we already have one, we can refer you to another Chapter, or we may work with you to open another Chapter. Of course, if you are a commercial real estate person, you could be eligible to participate in this chapter.

Q8: How do you know new members are reputable?

A: The application asks for references and each chapter has a Membership Committee that conducts reference checks. There are also interviews. It's referral marketing, so before they even come to a meeting they have to have spoken to someone or been invited by someone in the group. Everyone has to have a sponsor, or one is assigned to them, and they interview them.

Q9: What if a member gets a referral and does poor work?

A: We have a Code of Ethics and it's the Membership Committee's job to make sure it's respected. It is imperative that anyone who gives a referral and finds out it was not satisfactorily handled must report that to the Membership Committee, who will investigate in a professional manner.

Q10: What occupations benefit the most from networking?

A: It is not the occupation, it is the individual. The occupation can be anything. If you're focused and you have a dream and you're willing to take action, you are the person we want in the group.

Q11: Are members supposed to bring visitors?

A: You're encouraged to bring visitors to help promote the Chapter and the Members.

Q12: 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. As such, BNI therefore requires its members to uphold the rules of its 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.

Q13: If I specialize in a field within my industry, am I expected to be an expert in all aspects of my industry?

A: BNI understands that many industries and professions are broad and that people often specialize. BNI does not expect, nor does it encourage, any person to participate in an area outside their expertise.

Q14: My profession does not let me directly solicit business. Is BNI still right for me?

A: 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 people get business when their expertise is known and others reach a comfort level with them. BNI provides a forum that allows members to meet other business peers who need to know effective and efficient business people.

For more information contact the BNI Vermont office by calling (802) 557-0111 or send an email.

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