Should I Join BNI (Business Networking International)

For your own good don’t join this organization.  I’m just putting that title on this article to get the search bots to rank my blog high for that search phrase.  I get a lot of “BNI sucks” and “BNI is a waste of time” search traffic.  People that search those phrases have already been wronged by the evils of BNI and I end up preaching to the saved.  I want to reach out to people pre-cult where I can do them some good.

With a world of things that piss me off on a daily basis why waste anymore bandwidth yapping about the evils of this organization?   I’ve been inspired by brother Barack’s call to public service and I can’t think of another way that I can make a positive societal impact in my boxer shorts fueled up on this much cheap liquor.  So on with another alcohol fueled anti-BNI rant.

Into the Belly of the Beast

 I got a call from one of my former BNI chapter members asking if I could “sub” for him.  For you lucky folks that have no idea about BNI protocol, they have a strict attendance policy.  If you miss more than a few meetings you’ll be put on probation for poor attendance and may be dismissed.  You receive a get out of jail free card if you have someone come to the meeting in your place.  This like everything else in the rigid BNI system this rule plays to their advantage.  It basically tricks potential suckers into showing up for their meetings where the “visitor hosts” will apply high pressure sales tactics and get them to try and join.

I have to admit I enjoyed visiting my former chapter.  I enjoyed it in the same way one “enjoys” their 20th year class reunion when you see that the former Prom queen is shacked up with a tweaking meth dealer, weighs 300lbs and lives in a trailer with 7 kids from a variety of fathers.  It is pure scheidenfreud and it is delicious. These suckers are still getting up at the crack of dawn to participate in a 25 moron circle jerk and I’m sleeping in!  Internally they all know that this happy delusional exterior masks and perpetuates the lie that BNI is helping any of them which by my calculations it is not.

 BNI Chapter Performance Numbers

 Aside from my smug self righteousness I walked out of the meeting with the 2008 Chapter performance numbers which completely substantiate my claim that BNI membership is a giant waste of time and money.  The numbers are rounded to protect the innocent.  Here we go: 

$95,000 – 2008 BNI Related Member Revenue

$(22,800) – 2008 Member dues and other BNI member expenses (38 x $600/yr)

$72,200  – 2008 BNI Related Member income after expenses

$ 1,900 – Average BNI Income per member (38 members)

  Our average chapter member brought in $1,900 after (direct) expenses as a result of belonging to BNI.  That comes out to approx $9.50 per hour spent on BNI activities.  That is a pathetic return on time invested.  

 Does $9.50/hr sound like an effective sales channel to you?  It doesn’t to me.  And when you consider that to earn that $9.50 and hour our average chapter member wasted 10% of his/her work year flagellating other BNI members the opportunity cost is massive.  Think about what they could have done if they spent 200 hours in 2008 on more fruitful pursuits.  Or just sleeping in?

19 Responses to “Should I Join BNI (Business Networking International)”

  1. Sobchak said:

    I’m out - so out. Thank you for enlightening me even further than I was and for giving me the spark I needed to quit this cult. Unfortunately, I am still on the mass-email list. It’s fun, though, to know I’m liberated.

    Walter

  2. Grumpy Nerd said:

    Congrats man! You didn’t need me to tell you that BNI is a waste of time. Enjoy your freedom man.

    How did you finally quit?

  3. FormerBNIChapterPresident said:

    G. Nerd - I like what you’ve posted. Keep up the good work. There’s a lot of BNIers that need to see the light.

  4. Tony said:

    I joined BNI a few months ago. Shortly after spending the $400 Fee I was asked to give them a list of 10 people who could be interested in joining. Right away that sounded to me like an “Amway” type of company. Feeling presured, I gave them a list of 4 people. Shortly after that I was asked for a list of 20. When it was time for me to hand in my list, I resigned on the spot. I cannot believe that after spending $400 in membership + almost $300 in Dues I had to do all this work for them. When I quit I explained it should be the responsibility of the Franchisor and/or Franchisee to get members. If I want to bring 20 people to join a group, I would start my own and keep the $8000 in membership fees for myself. Sorry but POOR BUSINESS in my opinion.

  5. JackDonlan said:

    Hi Tony: I had a similar experience. They have the Visitor’s Day where you better have a list of 5 letters to mail out to people that will throw the letter into the trash. Hey, I work with small businesses. (corporate atty) When I get a chance to suggest BNI, I did. These people were smarter than me and did not join. The premise is to put more $ into your pocket. No, it is to put more $ into Misner’s pocket.

  6. Former VP said:

    As a former VP,I agree that this organization is a giant waste of time. In the 3 years I stuck around, I got 2 real referrals. I also had an employee in another BNI group, all BNI suceed in doing for her book of business was to reduce our rates and vthe alue of our product, due to the compulsary ‘member discounts’.

    Avoid the BNI cult at all costs, if you value your book of business and professional reputation.

  7. Simon said:

    You know what, your figures for working out that you earn $9.50 an hour from BNI is a load of rubbish. It’ll be nowhere near that!

    What about all the ‘referrals’ you’ve been passed that you spent chasing up that went nowhere? That time is gone and wasted.

    Our chapter guys tried telling me that each seat is worth approx £20k a year! What a crock of shite. Someone is fiddlin figures somewhere.

  8. A Person said:

    OK guys - challenge time.
    Show me chapter names, policy documents, evidence - stop whinging that nobody was able to find you business, and work out WHY nobody WANTED to find you business.

    Oh wait - read from top of page again, you seem to be answering all the right questions…

  9. Cláudio Tereso said:

    Hi good people,
    BNI just arrived to my town (Leiria, Portugal) and as soon as I read the news about it I could smell BS.
    I’ve read this article and ALL the comments and it gave me a good understanding how thinks work in the front, but not what’s going on behind the scene.
    I want to write an article about them, but I need more inside info. So, could anyone give some help with the following:
    1. Structure : What are the hierarchic levels and responsibilities.
    2. Money : is this or not a MLM scheme? How is the money of new members divided?
    3. Documentation : It would be GOLD if someone could share copies of the inside manuals for the directors/gurus/priests/whatever….
    Thank you all for any help.

  10. allan said:

    Hi, someone at a networking event recommended that I join BNI to get referrals. I was looking it up and got a bad vibe from its website, at which point I started googling “business networking international scam” and found this blog. Thanks for exposing its true nature.

    One small suggestion: explain how you got to 200 hours. That number (to a reader who hasn’t been a part of BNI) seems arbitrary.

  11. Grumpy Nerd said:

    Allan.

    BNI requires a lot of your time for group and individual meetings. Outside of that your BNI group will pressure you into other BNI related activities. 200 hours a year is on the low side.

    BNI Meetings: 50 x 2.5hr = 125 hours
    1 on 1 Meetings: 50 x 1.5hr = 75 hours

    So 10% of your regular 40 hour work week will be spent going to BNI meetings.

    If you are in sales and you don’t receive at least 10% of your yearly business from BNI leads then you are wasting your time.

    Fortunately for BNI most sales people are less about math and more about feeling.

  12. Kevin Couture said:

    I recently attended a BNI meeting in my home town, it was a start up meeting only 4 of us there plus the host. We had to pay $50 to rent the meeting room and the host asked each of us for $10 to help cover the cost. LOL Immediate turn off right there!

    The attendees were nice people, local business folk. AT end of meeting the host “presented” the application to me and I was thinking inside “WHAT THE FUCK?” ! I did not know there were such fees. I like the idea of networking but Networking should not require a membership charge or blind commitment to other members’ products; it should be born of experience. And in my industry, photography, I’m going to be hired on the merit of my images not by a recommendation from a BNI member.

    It may work for bankers, lawyers but I felt not for me, a waste of time and money from what I could see. Biggest thing that bothered me was that the host, and others who invited me, did not mentioning the upfront of the costs, big turnoff ! What are you trying to hide huh ?

    Would have to agree with all of Grumpy Nerds points also.

    Kevin

  13. Michael Sparks said:

    Thanks for the information. I have been working on writing an article for our networking group on the differences between BNI and our local group. There is a lot of insight from the article and the comments. Thanks to everyone that contributed.

  14. Durkin said:

    I use to be a BNI member and held 3 different positions, our chapter folded because of the political holier than thou attitudes of the BNI directors inflicted upon business professionals who questioned their authority !!! , . BNI is Bullshit needs individuals . They have many illegal contractor’s who are members , and not properly lic, I know many who are not an EPA lead certified firm to legally work on homes and child care centers built before 1978, each violation can carry fines up to 37,500.00 per day per violation ! I have been beat out of 2 chapters by illegal contractor’s, who are being referred by BNI members, and they too are violating the law ! can you say bye bye BNI !!! I hope so, AFTER ALL THEY ARE NOW A CRIMINAL ORGANIZATION !

  15. name does not matter said:

    I was one of the first members in a country, a president, ambassador and later also director. Here is a short story on why I decided to quit. Professionally Im a business consultant and our company was approached to ask our opinion establishing this in our country. We were sceptical in the beginning, but when we saw the country owner struggling we decided to help. He was on the verge of losing his franchise after all previous attempts to create and stabilize groups faild, and I said, okay lets help. So I paid for my membership and we decided to establish a new chapter. Two things which were agreed upon on from day one: Firstly: In Bni nobody pays commission or percentage to other members, and the country owner will give all his contacts too, Secondly until the chapter is formed I can veto any members application, after all im building it my way for the benefit of bni and myself too. So the first nightly meetings comes up and im presented with a guy who looks very weird, and the country manager later tells me this will be the vice president of the chapter.I ask, okay what are his merits, skills etc, answer: dunno but trust me its gonna be okay. Some time later in a meeting I bring down a friend who is a fab. Business women in her mid 40s. We are having some talk before the big sitdown…next thing we notice this guy rubbing his dick to the woman, and touching her, hes also doing it with other guests. Sure enough I call mr country man to get this sicko outta my group. Answer: they talked, and its gonna be ok. We are moving on, meeting after meeting and some of the members of failed groups start showing up as potential members including a very suspicious legal guy. So i make 1 check on him: turns out he has been suspended from practicing any legal activities, as there is an ethical proceedure against him. Mr. Country man:Trust me its gonna be okay, hes gonna be the legal advisor of the country and member of your chapter….. Still growing comes a guy who says hes an investor and media etc guy, he has a share in a printing company and says the name of a company which accidentally belongs to a friend of mine.I chekc the official company registrar, his name is notnthere. I call my friend, did you sell your company? No way! Okay, so why is this guy saying its his company? :Just forget that jerk he owns us a tonne of money and is full of wild schemes, whatever you do dont trust him! So I complain to Mr. Country man. Answer: trust me its gonna be okay. Next up weird idiots start showing up, I do a background check turns out its a group of scientology believers who have infiltrated bni. Country man: its gonna be okay…. So one of these weirdos decides to remove a partner from his company, a woman, who is also a bni member. She does not want to resign or sell her share or hand over her property, so he beats her up and takes away her stuff. She calls me crying in the middle of the night telling what happened. We tell her to calm down, go get medical assistance and official report of her injuries, report the attack and get a lawyer… So this bni member informs her group and country man etc on what happened, by next week everyone in bni knowsthere is a guy who just beat thecrap

  16. name does not matter said:

    So after we told her to report the incident to the police, she officially informed bni too including her chapter, our chapter and the country man, to remove this jerk on ethical grounds. As said most of the bni members knew what happened, but mr country guy forbid any ethical proceedure against this member. By that time I was not president, otherwise I would have personally removed this person.

    All this during my membership, was way too much out of line for me.

    I cannot tell any further details on my being ambassador and director. Personally i have the impression ive been cheated my membershipand that there were serious violations of bni rules by mr country manager and his friends, so bni did not give me what i paid for to say the least!!!

  17. name does not matter said:

    Dear Grumpy, please correct the mistakes I made, I was writing in a hurry on a tablet and accidentally posted the stuff…..Now I cant revise or delete what I wrote…Thanks

  18. harvey said:

    theatricals@invalidated.druncke” rel=”nofollow”>.…

    thanks!…

  19. scott said:

    dictatorial@hettys.rejects” rel=”nofollow”>.…

    good info!…

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