Manhattan Business Networking: Frequently Asked Questions

The following is a list of frequency asked questions about BNI and networking in general:

1. 7:00 am? Really!?

Yup. Think about it this way: 7:00 am is a big entry barrier…only serious, committed networkers get up that early and keep coming back for more. THAT’s commitment. Who else do you want to network with?

7:00am also means you’re out by 8:30, ready to make a 9:00 am meeting in Midtown. No long lunches, no endless, boring evening cocktail parties where little business gets done.

2. Weekly? How much can you talk about?

The BNI format is designed to build long-lasting, strong relationships among chapter members. Meeting weekly rather than monthly accelerates the process by a factor of five. Things change rapidly in business, so it is important to keep your fellow networkers apprised of your business.

3. How much business can I realistically get?

Last year our members exchanged new business referrals that resulted in more than $300,000 in closed business.  How much you personally earn depends upon your commitment and attitude.

4. How long before I start getting business?

Some members get new business leads during their first visit to our chapter. However, most people can expect positive results within three to six months. A lot depends on how consistently you attend meetings, how you explain your business, and especially how you help OTHER people.

5. Wait…I thought I was here to get leads, not give them?

There’s a great saying within BNI: “Givers Gain”. Think of it as Karma or paying your dues, but it’s the way most things work in life.  You’re attending a networking meeting to forge solid, meaningful business connections. That means helping others first before you can expect help in return.

Ironically (or by design), those members who listen attentively and work to give business leads get many more leads in return. Members who are not active, generous participants get few leads.

6. How can I possibly give that many referrals every week?

Everyone asks that same question when they’re considering membership in BNI.  However, it is surprising how many people you know and how many connections you have. When you’re focused on GIVING new business referrals, you find yourself becoming a very good listener. You listen carefully to everyone you meet, seeing how you can help them solve their business or personal problems with an introduction to someone in your chapter.

7. What should I wear?

For most of our guests and members, full Midtown battle gear: formal business attire. Members who work in building trades or have “casual” jobs typically dress up. Wear whatever you would normally wear to meet new clients.

8. Will I be expected to speak during the meeting?

Absolutely. Members, guests and visitors all get the opportunity to deliver a “60 Second Commercial” to introduce your business to our members.   Here is a good outline to follow:

  1. State your name & business name (:10)
  2. Who do you help (be VERY specific)…and how (:10~:20)
  3. What are some ‘trigger points’ (the key resasons why people hire you) (:20)
  4. Summary and wrap-up. Kudos if you have a clever tag line that makes people remember you (:10)

The key point to remember is to be memorable: provide compelling and intresting reasons about why you are unique and eminitely referrable. Practice in front of a mirror or (better) a web cam to hone your message down to 60-seconds or less.

Remember, you are training and recruiting your own personal sales force so be detailed, impressive and motivational.

9. Can I bring my business cards?

YES! Please bring 30-50 business cards with you as you will have an opportunity to pass them out to each meeting attendee.

10. How many times can I visit?

You may visit only up to three times as a guest. Afterwards, you will need to make a decision on whether to submit an application to become a member of our chapter.

11. How Do I Become A Member?

We have two tiers of members:

  1. Tier one is our meetup.com Manhattan Networking Group which is free and open to all.  This site offers networking advice and details about our upcoming morning meetings and occasional evening events.
  2. Tier two is where the real action takes place: our official in-person group is goverened by the rules and policies of BNI. Annual membership is $365 plus a $100 one-time application fee.   We also charge $200 per quarter for breakfast dues to offset our meeting room and catering expenses.

We only allow one member per professional category, which essentially locks out “competitors”. As a practical matter, a competitor is defined by the incumbent member. If you can make a persuasive case for competitive coexistence, we can occasionally make accomodations or exceptions to the exclusivity policy.