How to Grow Your Business with BNI: Tips for Network Marketers

Guest Post by Kathy Marie Howell

BNI® is the world’s largest business networking, referrals and word of mouth marketing organization, with over 190,000 members in 7,300 plus chapters worldwide.  In 2015 alone, BNI® members generated millions of referrals resulting in over $9.3 billion in closed business worldwide.

BNI® (Business Network International) is the name that defines who they are, as a living, breathing organization; an organization founded on and united by the Givers Gain® philosophy with the purpose of helping thousands of business people across the globe achieve growth and success through a structured referral system.

Now that you know what BNI is, let’s explore the benefits and ways that BNI can help you grow your MLM business. 

Follows a System

You can go to a BNI meeting anywhere in the world and find that every meeting is run exactly the same way. Individual chapters follow a strict agenda and time schedule. Meetings last for an hour and half weekly.

New Member Orientation

After you have paid for your membership and are inducted into a group, you must sign up to participate in a half day of new member training. BNI always makes the training a lot of fun as well as wealth of information.

Paid Membership

The cost to join BNI is a little over a dollar a day. From my experience with networking groups the more the investment is, the more committed the members were. People want to see others being successful. Success makes the whole chapter look good, which in turn draws more potential members to the group.

Weekly Attendance Required

One of the requirements of being a member is regular attendance. Your success rate improves every time you give a presentation. You are allowed to have a substitute in your place if you must miss a meeting.

Sales Force

BNI members are your sales force. Your goal is to educate them to listen for ways to promote you, your product or service. Most people in the group with want to use what you are promoting so they will be confident sharing your information with others.

One-On-One Networking

One-on-one networking is a requirement in BNI. It’s a way to get to know the members better and improve your communication skills. This is always done away from the weekly meeting and an outline to follow is suggested.

10 Minute Presentation

Everyone is given the opportunity to give an individual presentation in front of the group on a rotating schedule. It can be a lecture, video or even a game that involves the group. I have found that creativity and interaction have the most effect on interest in what you’re doing. I would encourage you to try different presentation and see what works best for you!

Weekly 60 Second Presentation

This is also known as a 60-second commercial. This is your chance every week to shine! You get to be as specific as you want. In fact, BNI encourages you to dream big and ask for your ideal referral. It’s not as much who’s in the group as it is, who knows who outside of the group.

Frequent Visitors

It’s free for visitors to visit twice and they are always welcome! At the end of each meeting there is a formal process where the visitor speaks to someone on the membership committee and is asked to join. They are given an application and a packet with all the business cards of the members. This is a great way to start the networking process. I recommend everyone that visits to follow up with a hand written note. It will make a good impression and help you stand out from the crowd.

Membership Participation

Every member is encouraged to participate in some way. There is an open 15-minute networking at the beginning of each meeting which is fun and a great way to make a good first impression. I enjoyed my role as a visitor host and tended to have more interaction with the guests since I logged them into the system for follow up.

Online Networking

BNI has a large online database that you are able to network with on a regular basis. As people have become more comfortable with social media, this is a great way to expand your list. It’s much like LinkedIn, but with BNI the referral and closed business counts toward the chapter’s involved.

Facebook Groups

The Facebook groups are a great way to get to know people. It’s easy to engage in conversation and share what you do. You can join a local Facebook group as well as the main group of BNI members. Like any Facebook group, it is great to introduce yourself and grow your relationship offline.

Leadership Role

Being part of the leadership team is a great way to give back to the group as well as gives the member a very respected position. It shows commitment as a leader and willingness to be a team player. It also gives you a year of free membership. Who can resist that?

Public Speaking

This is where my personal development grew the most from my BNI experience. Research shows that public speaking comes ahead of people’s fear of death, spiders, heights and confined spaces. I believe it too! By improving your public speaking skills you will have more confidence, which will attract more potential partners to you.

Final thoughts

I was an active BNI member for four years and found it to be extremely beneficial in growing my MLM business. In the past, BNI was not open to having MLM distributors in their organization. As awareness has grown about the professionalism of our industry, they welcomed me with open arms. I promoted my products more than my opportunity but I always let them know I was open to new team mates. I left because of a conflict in my schedule but I have maintained a relationship with the members of the group. Many are using my products and a few are on my team. It has been a great experience! I highly recommend seeing if it’s a fit for you if you like attending local meetings and being in a structured group.

Find a local BNI chapter here

About Kathy

kathy howellKathy Marie Howell, 49 year old mother of three married to the man of my dreams. My story just goes to show you that when you seek passion in your life, you often find solutions to help your dreams become reality. I got into the beauty industry to develop my talents and to serve others never realizing the profound effect it would have on my future.

I have found my experience as a Master Cosmetologist, specializing in health and wellness and coaching over the past 25+ years, has well prepared me to help others find their passion as well. My intuition and deep spirituality have led me to where I am today… living a life of purpose and joy.

I AM a MOMpreneur and blessed to be one.  I AM a coach and a cheerleader and will be your biggest supporter.  I AM here to help you navigate through our changing world with confidence. I AM here to bring innovative and new solutions to the world and it starts with an open heart and mind.  I AM here for you.

To learn more, you can call or text me at (859) 494-4802 (eastern time).  You can order the products on my website or you can get my free report for MOMpreneurs.


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2 thoughts on “How to Grow Your Business with BNI: Tips for Network Marketers

  1. Greg Boudonck

    Kathy, thank you for this information. I was not familiar with BNI until now. It sounds like a great networking organization. It is good that they now allow network marketers.

    Even though that other network marketers will not join your team, it is still good to network with them. We can learn tips and tricks, and also, if they happen to leave their current business, they know about you and yours.

    Networking is very important in MLM. After all, they call it network marketing for a reason. Thanks again for sharing this.

    1. Kathy Marie Howell

      Thanks for the comments Greg! It’s surprising what a big operation BNI is that most people don’t know about it. I was invited to visit with my cosmetology business and I turned the offer down. Once I joined my network marketing company I knew it would be a good place to spread the word!


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