Why Policies Are Good For Business


“BNI has so many policies – why?”, some of you have asked us over the past month. So in this Question Corner we are explaining why BNI is a system based on a comprehensive list of rules – and how you benefit from them.

Many Aspects, Many Proven Rules

Let’s look at the “many” in this question first:  What areas does BNI have policies for?  The BNI system has proven rules and recommendations around:

  • Joining
  • Attending
  • Referring
  • Training
  • The Weekly Meeting
  • Leadership

As you can see: there are many parts that contribute to creating a successful networking and word-of-mouth marketing group.  While there may be “many” rules at first glance, policies to govern the principles under which a group comes together and decides to do business are crucial for achieving a common vision – and for the group’s success.

Look at it this way:

You would not accept or start a job without having seen a job description and salary offer.  So why would you want to join a networking group (= job) that has no direction, no expectations of its members, no way to measure its efforts (= no job description) – or can’t articulate the likely reward (= salary) you will receive for your hard work?

Structure = Foundation of Success

Cold calling only gets you so far… In 1985 Dr Ivan Misner assembled a group of business friends that understood each other’s businesses well.  Their aim:  to work on building their businesses through networking and word-of-mouth marketing.  Their experience and practical input created a system that could be passed on.  BNI was born.

What was – and still is – so unlike other networking groups about BNI, is that BNI provides its members with a structure and a plan based on their needs, which enables them to network in an effective and professional manner.

Membership Rules!

Rules without a reason or purpose are of no use.  Policies must serve the common goal of an organization.  And every rule in BNI is aimed at enabling its members to understand, practice and benefit from Givers Gain®.

As a member, how do you benefit from the BNI rules and system?

Here are 10 examples:

  1. No Competition:  Only one person from each professional category is permitted to join a chapter of BNI.
  2. Sales Team Commitment: Members must represent their primary occupation, not a part-time business.  An individual member can only be a member of one BNI chapter at any time.
  3. High VCP:  The weekly meetings last for 90 minutes. Members need to arrive on time and stay for the entire meeting.
  4. Continuity/Trust:  If a member cannot attend a weekly meeting, they should send a substitute.
  5. Business Opportunities: Members are required to bring bona-fide referrals and visitors.
  6. Earned Access to VCP: Visitors may attend chapter meetings up to two times only.
  7. Sales Team Attendance: There should be no leaves of absence, except for medical reasons.
  8. Recognising Your Effort: Individual PALMS and chapter tracking keeps you and your sales team accountable – and recognises everyone’s hard work on each other’s behalf.
  9. Smooth Sailing: Clearly outlined expectations make it easier to run the chapter professionally, based on merit, and not personal preferences.
  10. Support:  All new members must attend Member Success Program (MSP) training in their region within the first 60 days of joining.

The BNI Meeting Agenda

Some new members and visitors ask why the meeting agenda is so “strict”, referring to the set rules on how to run the meeting.

The answer to the “why?” is simple – discipline creates value.

There is a lot of information, content and value contained in each weekly meeting:

  • Visibility for members/visitors (business cards, 60-second & 10-minute presentations)
  • Credibility (referrals, raps, and presentation)
  • Profitability & Measurement (referrals and closed business)
  • Accountability (VP and Treasurer Reports, Referral Reality Check)
  • Training (MSP, etc.)
  • Social Connection (events)

There are only 90 minutes available weekly that need to be used effectively.  To lead a group of 25 to 75 people orderly (!) through a meeting of that length, and provide value to all participants – now that requires discipline.

Conclusion: No Structure, No Givers Gain® 

Please send us your questions for next month’s Question Corner to   

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