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Now, more than ever, business people need to network to stay in business.  BNI provides a positive, supportive, and structured enviroment to exchange ideas, contacts and most importantly, business referrals!


With over 150,000 members worldwide, BNI is the largest business networking and referral marketing organization in the world.  Last year alone BNI generated 7.1 million referrals resulting in $5 billion dollars' worth of business for its members.  BNI is a business and professional organization that allows only one person from each profession to join a chapter.

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Kat Roedell
Gold Rush BNI
Image Consultant | Mary Kay


A lot of us in direct sales seem to have a challenge in a BNI meeting.  We work from our homes, make our living selling products and recruiting people.  The barrier to entry is low in many of our businesses, much lower than a traditional business where you need professional training or licensing.  Because the barrier is low, there are a lot of people who enter our types of business without a business mentality.  They are hobby level, buy for themselves and friends, or worse yet – get in, do two or three events and then leave a bunch of half-satisfied customers.  Because of this, the credibility factor for a direct sales business can start lower in a BNI group than other people, and it is a steeper climb to develop that network and start getting those referrals.

There really are a number of things we can do as network marketers to develop our relationships and build up our BNI chapter however, and they are really quite simple.

  1. Attendance:  Be there on time or early. If you can’t make it provide a substitute.
  2. 1:1’s:  Schedule them, follow the dance card, and really get to know the other person’s business. Remember Giver’s Gain, you need to think of your chapter members throughout the week, and listen to the needs of your customers.
  3. Give Outside Referrals:  The guy that runs the Air Conditioning Business in your chapter doesn’t have the advantage you have – flexibility – you meet people everywhere, and as such can pass a variety of outside referrals.
  4. Take a leadership mentality:  Don’t sit back and wait for things to come to you, be aggressive and take the lead.  Figure out which three chapter members you are going to search for a referral for that week, and make it happen. Be positive, upbeat and supportive of the other members.  Every bit of motivational training you receive is useful to the other chapter members – share and establish yourself as an authority not only on your products but on sales and motivation.
  5. Don’t try to recruit in your chapter:  You are there to tell them what a perfect referral is for you and what value you can add to the chapter.  Get together in one-to-one’s and share your marketing plan so the other chapter members know what you’re looking for, but don’t look to them for your next set of team members.
  6. Put what you do in business terms.  Review what services you provide and put them in terms of how you can help another person’s business.  If you have samples, make give away bags for your chapter member’s offices.  Again, Givers Gain.
  7. Develop the pipelines, not the people:  I sell skin care, but more importantly I sell image.  I ask my chapter members to refer me to businesses that have image issues.  I can go in, meet new people and develop my leads that way.  If I work on single person referrals (Joe Green’s mom needs cleanser), I need more referrals than if I work on getting into State Farm as an image trainer where I have access to 100 people.
  8. Be upfront about your product and service, and be transparent.  Every person does sales in some way shape or form, being real, being credible and being honest is key to successful customer service. 

Making your BNI Membership work for you is about building credibility, honesty, integrity and a connection with your chapter members.  Be a leader and develop referrals for others, and they will come back with referrals for you.

Do you have a story or lesson to share? We’d love to hear from you. Email us for our blog submission guidelines/form.

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