BNI Policies

Welcome to Business Network International or BNI. This information is important reading for all members of BNI.

BNI’s Philosophy

Success in BNI means you need to be a positive and supportive member of an organization based upon mutual support. This requires commitment to your fellow members as well as to the philosophy of Givers Gain®: by giving business to others, you will get business in return.

Mission Statement

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

Code of Ethics for Member

  1. I will provide the quality of services at the prices that I have quoted.
  2. I will be truthful with the Members and their referrals.
  3. I will build goodwill and trust among Members and their referrals.
  4. I will take responsibility for following up on the referrals I receive.
  5. I will display a positive and supportive attitude.
  6. I will live up to the ethical standards of my profession. *
* Professional standards outlined in a formal code of conduct for any profession supersede the above standards. This means that a Member belonging to a profession that has a more stringent standard must adhere to that higher standard.

General Policies

  1. Only one person from each professional classification is permitted to join a chapter of BNI®. Membership Committees of each chapter have final authority related to classification conflicts.
  2. Members must represent their primary occupation, not a part-time business.
  3. The weekly meetings last for 90 minutes. Members need to arrive on time and stay for the entire meeting.
  4. An individual member cannot be in a second BNI® chapter nor in any other group that allows only one person per profession and whose primary purpose is to pass referrals to one another, because it substantially reduces their commitment to the chapter members. Membership Committees must enforce this policy.
  5. Attendance is critical to the group. If a member cannot attend, they may send a substitute (not a member of your chapter) to the meeting. This will not count as an absence. A member is allowed three absences within a rolling six-month period. More than this and the member’s classification is subject to being opened by the chapter’s Membership Committee.
  6. Members are required to bring bona-fide referrals and/or visitors to their chapter of BNI®. Chapters may establish a minimum number of referrals and/or visitors that is acceptable to maintain membership.
  7. Visitors may attend chapter meetings up to two times.
  8. Speakers must bring a door prize. Only members bringing a visitor or a referral are eligible for the door prize.
  9. There are no leaves of absence except for medical leaves. A member may take up to eight weeks’ medical leave with the Membership Committee’s prior approval if fees are pre-paid for that period of time and they attempt to have someone “fill in” during their leave.
  10. It is the member’s responsibility to file a concern with the Membership Committee of their chapter if a visitor “who submits an application in any way conflicts with their classification.” This should be done before the visitor is approved for membership. If there are no complaints, the Membership Committee will assume their consent.
  11. Members who wish to change their classification must submit a new membership application and get approval from the Membership Committee for that classification change.
  12. In case of problems with a member, Membership Committees may, at their sole discretion, put a member on probation relating to the member’s business practices or commitment to the chapter.
  13. A member’s classification may be opened for failure to comply with the policies and/or the code of ethics of BNI®. Membership Committees of any chapter may open classifications. In the absence of a Membership Committee, the Leadership Team may fulfil that responsibility.
  14. If the Leadership Team fulfils all responsibilities throughout their term, they will receive as consideration an exemption of dues during their tenure as a Leadership Team Member. The Leadership Team must agree to the terms outlined in the Leadership Team Agreement in order to hold a position and must go through training before participating.
  15. In the absence of a Membership Committee, the Leadership Team may act as an ad hoc Membership Committee until one is established.
  16. All BNI® membership lists are for the purpose of ‘giving’ referrals and not for soliciting (via e-mail, direct mail, or other means) BNI® members or Director/Director Consultants without their prior approval.
  17. All new members must attend Member Success Program in their region within their first 60 days of their induction. Only after attending the Member Success Program may the new member be added to the speaker rotation for the chapter. Any new members not attending the Member Success Program within the first 60 days after being inducted into the chapter will be subject to having their classification opened by the Membership Committee.
  18. Policies are subject to change. All proposed policy changes need to be reviewed first by the Board of Advisors.
  19. Other than normal BNI® printed materials, members may not use the BNI® Intellectual Property (e.g. logos, trademarks, names, slogans, copyrighted materials, etc.) to manufacture, distribute, sell, market, or promote any product or service, or otherwise use the BNI® Intellectual Property without obtaining the prior written consent of BNI Global or the appropriate National Office. Members must agree to abide by the BNI® Branding Standards for any permitted use.

Administrative Policies

  1. There is an initial application fee. Fees are paid annually. Contact the local Secretary/Treasurer for amounts. Fees may be paid with VISA, MASTERCARD, or INTERACT E-TRANSFER.
  2. BNI® may establish chapters in every city or community with people interested in developing a referral-based business. In addition, BNI® reserves the right to open more than one chapter per community or city where demand of BNI®’s services is requested.
  3. Membership fees are payable 30 days prior to the due date. Members not paid by the first day of the month they are due, are considered late and will be assessed a late charge. If fees are not paid within 15 days, the member will be officially dropped by BNI®.
  4. Fees are non-refundable. A certificate of credit will be given, upon request, to members in good standing for the unused portion of their time.
  5. Fees cannot be transferred from one person to another unless the fees are from the same company.
  6. BNI® has a strict policy on returned checks. A member has three working days in which to contact their Regional BNI® office and resolve the matter. Any returned checks not resolved within this period will be turned over to collections. All returned checks will be assessed a minimum $25 returned check fee. If a member passes a second NSF check, that member will be subject to immediate termination.
  7. BNI® is a marketing service provided by BNI Global, LLC. BNI® or any of its franchisees reserve the right to discontinue a member’s participation in this program.
  8. A member requesting a transfer from their current chapter to a new chapter will be required to submit a completed new member application to the Membership Committee of the new chapter. In addition, if the member has less than 12 months of paid membership credit, they must submit a renewal payment. Or, if the member has more than 12 months of paid membership credit, no additional investment is required. Upon acceptance into the new chapter, the credit from their previous chapter will be added to their membership in the new chapter as well as the renewal time, if applicable.

The BNI Agenda

  1. Open Networking.
  2. Welcome everyone, introduce Leadership Team.
  3. Purpose and Overview of BNI.
  4. Networking Education.
  5. Announce BNI ‘Network Leaders’ (beginning of each month).
  6. Pass business cards.
  7. Welcome any new (or renewing) BNI members to the organization (induct new members).
  8. Members introduce themselves and give a weekly presentation.
  9. Welcome visitors to BNI and have members introduce them (visitors give a weekly presentation).
  10. Vice President’s Report.
  11. Membership Committee Report.
  12. Secretary/Treasurer announces the rotation of speakers for the next six weeks and introduces that week’s speaker(s).
  13. Speaker(s) gives a feature presentation, including questions and answers.
  14. Member Contributions: Visitors say what has impressed them most about the meeting.
  15. Referral Reality Check.
  16. Secretary/Treasurer’s Report.
  17. President thanks visitors & invites to Visitor Orientation.
  18. Announcements and reminders eg. workshops, chamber meetings in the area, committee meetings, etc.
  19. Door prize draw: for members bringing visitors or referrals. The speaker(s) brings the door prize(s).
  20. Close meeting. Conduct new member orientation.

Program Guidelines

Program Guidelines are not policies but are recommended practices that allow Chapters to run more smoothly and effectively.

Visiting Chapters

  • Members visiting other chapters should announce that they are from another chapter.
  • Visiting members must not do or say anything that competes with a member of that chapter.
  • The chapter should be cautious in giving referrals to individuals they don’t know, including visiting members.
  • Visiting members should pay for their own meals.
  • Before visiting another chapter, the visiting member should call that chapter’s President first.
  • Visiting members follow the same visiting policies as non-members; no more than two visits allowed.

Absences and Tardiness

  • Absences and tardiness mean less business for members; therefore, the Membership Committee may give warnings to members who are consistently late or leave early. If the problem continues, the member’s classification may be subject to being re-opened.

Substitute Program

  • Potential substitutes include customers, friends, family, and/or employees.
  • The primary purpose of a substitute is to represent a BNI® Member. BNI® recommends minimal use of a substitute. However, a member may use substitutes up to three times in a six-month period.
  • Members should alert the chapter of a substitute so that the Visitor Host can be there to greet him/her.

Business Representation

  • Members agree to only represent the business classification approved by the Membership Committee.
  • Members of BNI® who represent multi-level marketing organizations should represent their products and services in BNI® and not the business opportunity element of their business.

Non-Discrimination Disclosure Statement

BNI Global requires that Chapters review and select persons for membership in all job classifications based on qualifications without regard to race, color, gender, religion, national origin, marital status, sexual orientation, age, or disability. BNI® will support no Chapter’s action when in violation of this non-discrimination statement.

International Board of Advisors

An INTERNATIONAL BOARD OF ADVISORS exists to address policy issues relating to BNI. The Board is made up of regular members (like yourself) from various Chapters throughout BNI. The Board’s purpose is to ensure that there is open communication between the membership and BNI Headquarters. If you have an issue or concern that you would like addressed by the Board, contact your BNI Regional Executive Director for more information.

What Do I Get for My Money?

The BNI regional, national and international offices are operated by professional staff, who work hard to insure that BNI members continue to maximize their return on investment in time, energy and money.

The BNI Fees Provide a Member With:

  1. Potential for a significant amount of new referred business.
  2. Current information about latest business trends in other industries which facilitates the operation and growth of one’s own business.
  3. Practical training and practice in public speaking and specific marketing/advertisement of oneself and one’s service/product.
  4. Special business contacts that can be converted into long-term strategic alliances in the regional and global business community.
  5. Special coaching about referral marketing from trained and talented BNI Directors. If any one of the above benefits were to be fully utilized by a member, the benefits would far outweigh the monetary investment for a BNI membership.
  6. International affiliation to other BNI chapters and members. These global contacts are becoming increasingly important to businesses and their respective clients.

The fees collected by BNI are distributed approximately as follows:

  1. Chapter Marketing: brochures & invitation cards, visitor information sheets, periodic press releases, public relations support and website promotion on
  2. Chapter Support: orientation audio CDs, vinyl card holders, badges, unlimited referral slips, Team Leader manuals and training materials, membership applications, BNI Directors’ assistance, free workshops, awards, certificates, pins, member manuals, National Office support, production of SuccessNet (BNI’s newsletter) and
  3. Administrative Expenses: office expenses such as telephone, copier, computer supplies, stationery, etc.
  4. Staff Expenses: compensation for office staff to handle telephone enquiries, respond to chapter requests, prepare press releases, etc.
    Note: The Chapter Leadership Team do not pay fees as compensation for their work in the chapter. Thus, for every 500 chapters of BNI, 1,500 people would be Team Leaders and, therefore, pay no membership participation fees.

Compare the Value

Most business people advertise and we would never suggest that you stop advertising. However, ‘Compare the Value’ between advertising and referral marketing. Being a member of BNI is like having 40 or more salespeople marketing your product or service 24/7.

Good Referrals

Offer the opportunity to do business with someone who is in the market to buy your product or service. Although not a guaranteed sale, a good referral is an open door to discuss your business with someone who is interested in your product or service. Each member knows many other people. This extended network is a rich database of potential business available to members of BNI.

Referral Marketing

BNI provides a structured environment for the development and exchange of quality referrals. By comparison, a one time 4” x 4” display ad costs over $500.00 based on a survey published in The World’s Best Known Marketing Secret.

In a BNI Chapter of 40 participants, members exchange over 120 referrals. Currently in BNI Alberta South, the average return on investment for a BNI membership is close to $50,000.00