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

Business Network International (BNI) is an organization which is "the world's largest referral organization" with over 185,000 members worldwide.[1] BNI is in over 60 countries worldwide.[2] BNI was founded in 1985 by Dr. Ivan Misner "for the primary purpose of building powerful referral networks".[3][4]

Chapter format[edit]

The BNI organization works by creating a group of people from various industries and encouraging regular passing of referrals.

  • Each chapter allows one person per occupational classification, and prospective members must be approved via an application process.
  • BNI's philosophy is "Givers Gain" - 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 have specific rules regarding required attendance in order to cultivate the relationships needed to create a comfort level in referring business.
  • 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: over 7,030 (as of October 2015)[citation needed]
  • Number of members: 186,000[5]
  • Total annual value of referrals: 5.4 million referrals resulting in $6.5 billion (U.S.) (2014)[6]


  1. ^ "BNI web page". Archived from the original on 22 February 2008. Retrieved 2013-06-14. 
  2. ^
  3. ^ Jantsch, John (2006). "Ramp Up a Systematic Referral Machine". Duct Tape Marketing. Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson. p. 202. ISBN 978-1-59555-146-7. 
  4. ^ "Why Technology Is Rewarding Close Personal Relationships". California Science & Technology News. 2006-02-23. Archived from the original on 29 September 2008. Retrieved 2008-09-17. 
  5. ^ September 2014
  6. ^ Retrieved 20 September 2014.  Missing or empty |title= (help)