BNI (organization)

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Business Network International
Industry Business networking
Founded 1985
Founder Ivan Misner
Headquarters Charlotte, NC, United States
Area served
Key people
Ivan Misner, Graham Weihmiller

Business Network International (BNI) is an American franchised networking organization with around 200,000 members in 7,500 local chapters worldwide. Members meet regularly to discuss business and support each other's businesses by sharing referrals. It claims to be the world's leading 'referral organization'.[1] In 2015, the organization says its members generated referrals resulting in over $9.3 billion in closed business worldwide.[2] BNI was founded in 1985 by Dr. Ivan Misner.[3]


Local BNI chapters arrange regular meetings for people from various industries and encourage the passing of referrals. It appears most effective for locally based, mainstream businesses, operating mostly off the Internet.[4]

  • Each chapter allows one person per occupational classification, and prospective members must be approved.
  • Members are expected to focus on giving referrals to other members to build relationships and receive referrals in return.
  • BNI draws a distinction between a "referral" and a "lead." A lead is contact information for a prospect for a member's business, while a referral occurs only when the prospect has already expressed interest in the business in question, and is ready to be contacted by the referred BNI member.
  • Chapters enforce rules such as requiring attendance at (most) meetings.
  • Chapters track the monetary amount of passed business in order to prove the value of the financial and time commitment.

Financial structure[edit]

  • Members pay a one-off joining fee, an annual membership fee, and a weekly meeting fee to cover room hire and refreshments.


  • Number of chapters: 7,540 (as of May 2016)[citation needed]
  • Number of members: 200,000[5]
  • Total annual value of referrals: 7.7 million referrals, resulting in US$9.3 billion worth of business[6]


  1. ^ "BNI web page". Archived from the original on 22 February 2008. Retrieved 2013-06-14. 
  2. ^
  3. ^ "Why Technology Is Rewarding Close Personal Relationships". California Science & Technology News. 2006-02-23. Archived from the original on September 29, 2008. Retrieved 2008-09-17. 
  4. ^ 6 Reasons NOT to Join a BNI Group, by Ivana Taylor, Business to Community, 11 December 2014
  5. ^
  6. ^ "2015 Ends Successfully for BNI". Retrieved 2016-05-02.