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How to Choose a BNI Northern Virginia Chapter

There really is an art and science to choosing the right chapter for you and your business. BNI has chapters throughout N Virginia. Each chapter has its own personality and culture, but all BNI members share a common set of goals and values. If you consider these important factors in choosing BNI N, Virginia Chapter(s) to visit, you will most certainly find a chapter that fits your individual personality and business needs.

Exclusivity – Each chapter works like a team, accepting only one specialty from each profession to ensure you are interacting exclusively within your chapter without competition. Although you want to lock out your competition, the most successful members join a chapter with other professional specialties closely related to their business. Some examples of this are real estate agents and mortgage lenders; cosmetics/skin care professionals and hair stylists; chiropractors and massage therapists, financial advisors and property/casualty insurance agents.

Time and Location – Spread throughout your area and meeting on a variety of days and times, find a BNI chapter that meets near your home or office. You also want a group that meets at a time that is convenient for you: early morning, lunch, or afternoons. If the meeting is convenient for you, you will find it easy to attend regularly.

Compatibility – Every BNI Chapter has its own set of personalities and strengths. You may prefer a larger, well-established chapter where referrals move faster based on sheer numbers; or you may favor a smaller chapter, still in growth mode where your leadership qualities and creative thinking will help propel growth and add a new dimension to a fledgling chapter.

Use the above form to find a chapter that fits your schedule and location.  The chapter listing includes where and when each chapter meets, and the name and contact information for each Chapter's President. They can answer any questions you may have.


BNI DC offers a number of benefits to help you grow your business, regardless of your profession:

  • Increase market exposure
  • Exposure to 20+ Marketing people that wouldn't ordinarily be available to you
  • Exposure to training, regional meetings, and Internet presence, etc.
  • Exclusivity within your group due to a one professional specialty per chapter policy
  • Low-cost targeted marketing - like shooting fish in a barrel!

Tips for Your First BNI N, Virginia Chapter Visit

Here are a few tips that will make your first BNI visit more effective:

  • Try to arrive 15-20 minutes early
  • Turn your cell phone off
  • Bring plenty of business cards
  • Bring a brochure or flyer for distribution to the group
  • Ask the visitor host to introduce you to people who could be good referral sources for you
  • Be prepared to pay a nominal amount for breakfast or lunch

Don't be surprised if you are asked a lot of questions about your business, and we encourage you to do the same with existing members. Remember, the first step to getting referrals is building relationships!

Meeting Agenda

Every BNI meeting begins with Open Networking

A visitor host will be at the entrance of the meeting to greet you and lead you through Open Networking. Designed to give members specific questions to ask in order to get the most out of your conversations with other members, Open Networking is actually a practiced exercise that helps you get to know each other better.

Even if you are painfully timid, you will find that by sharing your story with others, you are opening the door to new opportunities. You may want to take notes and build profiles on each of the members with whom you interact. Be sure and try to speak with everyone – don't get caught up with one person the entire time. Relax, and have fun!

Bob Burg's 10 Feel-Good Questions® will make you wildly successful during Open Networking:

  1. "How did you get started in the "widget" business?"
  2. "What do you enjoy most about what you do?"
  3. "What separates your company from your competition?"
  4. "What advice would you give someone just getting started in the widget business?"
  5. "What one thing would you do with your business if you knew you couldn't fail?"
  6. "What significant changes have you seen take place in your profession through the years?"
  7. "What do you see as the coming trends in the widget business?"
  8. "Describe the strangest (or funniest) incident you've ever experienced in your business?"
  9. "What ways have you found to be the most effective for promoting your business?"
  10. "What one sentence would you like people to use in describing the way you do business?"

But the one "key" question that will set you apart from everyone else:

"How can I know if someone I'm talking to would be a good prospect for you?" from Endless Referrals: Network Your Everyday Contacts Into Sales (McGraw-Hill)

Business Meeting

After Open Networking, the meeting will begin with a warm welcome and introductions all around with an overview of the BNI Alabama chapter you are attending. Each week, one member of the chapter gives a 3-5 minute presentation about how to network better. Education is a very important part of BNI. You will have an opportunity to distribute your business cards while the leadership introduces you as a visitor.

You will get a brief introduction to BNI members during their individual presentations. During these presentations, each member shares one aspect of their business with the chapter, and explains what would represent a good referral for them. You might even identify ways you can help a few of the BNI members, although we recommend getting to know them better before entrusting them with your referral.

As a visitor, you will not be required to participate in the weekly business reporting, but you will get a firsthand look at members as they report on how many referrals passed, and how much business (in dollar figures) they have made off referrals from other members. Each group also has a keynote speaker who provides a presentation about their business. This presentation further educates members on how they can act as a sales force for that member by passing a referral.

At the end of the meeting, you will know whether BNI is a good marketing strategy for you. You will also have an opportunity to ask questions about BNI and learn more about how it works.