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  #37  
Old 05-16-2012, 07:45 AM
valkyriebiker valkyriebiker is offline
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Re: BNI - Business Network International - Scam?

This thread is a little old, but I want to chime in.

Some chapters are more uptight about the rules, some less. My chapter is very informal. We laugh a lot, are politically incorrect at times, and generally have a good time.

Yes, the franchise owner makes money. So what? Nobody is hiding anything. As for the rigid structure, it's like any meeting using a parliamentary process. Ever been to an HOA meeting? City Council? Rules keep things on track so everything gets covered and ends on time.

Like any form of advertising, BNI works for some lines of business and not for others. I'm an I.T. consultant and been in BNI for five years now. I receive some 75%(!) of my business from BNI-sourced referrals, so for me it works great. My ROI is 50x to 100x my annual costs. What other form of advertising gives that kind of results? None.

For others like a financial adviser? Maybe not so much.

Funny how people who succeed in BNI aren't complaining -- it's only the folks that fail. BNI is what you make it. If you put effort into your chapter, it will come back to you.


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  #38  
Old 06-04-2012, 12:36 PM
CookieBeast CookieBeast is offline
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Re: BNI - Business Network International - Scam?

Take a close look at their obligations - specifically, the obligation to bring in a number of people or a number of leads per month - or pay a penalty and/or get kicked out (no refund).

If you want "informal" meetings which you have a "good time", then your local pub is very likely a heck of a lot cheaper, and you don't have to worry about trying to drag your friends down there or sending people to someone in your group as a referral - regardless of whether or not you know anything at all about his business practices.

Go to the pub, make some friends, trade some business cards. You'll save yourself the thousand or so in BNI signup fees and the never-ending obligatory meetings (more $$$).

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  #39  
Old 06-04-2012, 01:03 PM
valkyriebiker valkyriebiker is offline
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Join Date: May 2012
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Re: BNI - Business Network International - Scam?

There are no specific numbers of guests or referrals that members are supposed to bring -- just that they make an effort to do so. But you cite that obligation like it's a bad thing? Would you rather your fellow networking members not bring people or referrals?

About your pub idea... get real. If you can make a living handing out business cards in a pub, then I salute you. I sure can't. But I can and do make a living from my BNI referrals.

Never-ending obligatory meetings: Again, like this is a bad thing? Do you want to belong to a networking group where half the group is absent every week?

Re $$$: I renewed for two years at my last renewal time, about $530 IIRC. I've made that in ONE DAY from a BNI referral. Pretty damn good ROI!

I've been a member of a few different non-BNI networking groups. None of them came close to the effectiveness of a BNI-style group (structured meetings with rules). Fact is, many people simply lack the discipline to network effectively (including me, sometimes) so a structured group with rules keeps everything running smooth.

It's not like BNI has some magic formula, they don't. They have a fine-tuned system that works. And the membership of the 6,000 some chapters world wide might tend to agree with that. Or they leave. I don't like everything about BNI to be sure. But the positives far far outweigh the negatives for me.

If you don't like the BNI style, fine. Don't join. But don't frame your negative opinions as factual reasons why BNI networking isn't a good place be. Maybe for you it isn't. For me and everyone in my chapter, it most certainly is -- or I/they would not be there. That simple.



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  #40  
Old 06-04-2012, 02:22 PM
CookieBeast CookieBeast is offline
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Re: BNI - Business Network International - Scam?

Quote:
Originally Posted by valkyriebiker View Post
There are no specific numbers of guests or referrals that members are supposed to bring -- just that they make an effort to do so.
That's not my experience. My friend was looking into it and I checked over his membership agreement. As I remember, he was REQUIRED to bring 2 guests or 4 referrals per month - or something to that effect. Failing to meet his quota could result in sanctions of fines and/or being kicked from the group.

It wasn't "make an effort" as you imply - it was "make an effort and produce - or else".

Anyone should make their own decisions with regards to BNI - but I call attention to clauses of guests and referrals as a section of particular interest for anyone considering this.

Quote:
Originally Posted by valkyriebiker View Post
About your pub idea... get real.
BNI requires about 2 hours per week, each week. So about 8 hours per month. Spend that much time handing out business cards at the pub, you're bound to turn up results.

Quote:
Originally Posted by valkyriebiker View Post
Never-ending obligatory meetings: Again, like this is a bad thing?
I go on a holiday or get sick, I MUST get someone to go in my stead. Failing to do so, I risk getting kicked out.

There was NO clause in the membership agreement allowing holiday or sickness absences.

Quote:
Originally Posted by valkyriebiker View Post
Re $$$: I renewed for two years at my last renewal time, about $530 IIRC. I've made that in ONE DAY from a BNI referral. Pretty damn good ROI!
I got a website contract from the bloke at the pub. A few grand in my pocket for the price of a beer.

Anecdotal evidence is not evidence. If it works for you, grand. Do it. I'm just warning others that there's consequences if you don't meet your quota.

Oh, and I get to enjoy my beer. You don't.

Quote:
Originally Posted by valkyriebiker View Post
But don't frame your negative opinions as factual reasons why BNI networking isn't a good place be.
You mean, the sort of opinion and unverifiable anecdotal experience exactly as you used above? You're being absurd - you demand I follow standards that you yourself do not follow.

As a further note of caution, you're REQUIRED to give business referrals to your group members.

Let's say I have a mechanic in my group. My mate needs some work done. But I have heard a lot of complaints about the shoddy work of the mechanic in my group, so I send my mate to the garage that I've gone to and had good experiences with.

Under BNI rules, if that shoddy mechanic finds out about what I did, he can complain and have me kicked out of the group... because I didn't want to send a mate to pay for his shoddy work. And it gets better - I'm supposed to send referrals to the shoddy mechanic without questioning the quality of his work. By your argument, it's fine - send people to someone you have not vetted - purely on the basis that he paid his BNI fees. Sorry, but that sticks in my craw.

Read your BNI rules - that's how they read.

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  #41  
Old 06-04-2012, 03:29 PM
valkyriebiker valkyriebiker is offline
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Join Date: May 2012
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Re: BNI - Business Network International - Scam?

"As I remember, he was REQUIRED to bring 2 guests or 4 referrals per month"

There is nothing in the BNI regs that state that you must bring x guests or y referrals. Post a link to a bonafide BNI site (and not to a bitch board like this) that supports your assertion.

"BNI requires about 2 hours per week, each week. So about 8 hours per month. Spend that much time handing out business cards at the pub, you're bound to turn up results."

Yeah, right. You do your pub crawl, I'll continue meeting with people who are there to network and not drink beer, throw darts, or listen to a jukebox.

"I go on a holiday or get sick, I MUST get someone to go in my stead. Failing to do so, I risk getting kicked out. "

BNI allows three absences per six-month period. Send a substitute and it doesn't count as an absence. They have an 8 week absence policy for medical reasons. Again, do you want to waste time in a group that doesn't have some minimum attendance requirement? Not me. If I'm hauling my ass to a meeting every week, I'd like everyone else's ass there, too.

"I got a website contract from the bloke at the pub. A few grand in my pocket for the price of a beer.
"

Good for you. I made $125,000 from my BNI contacts last year alone. If your pub can beat that, send me the address and I may join you.

"Let's say I have a mechanic in my group." (snip)

BNI rules do NOT REQUIRE anyone to use people in the chapter. Show me a link that says otherwise.

If a chapter does that, they are doing so unilaterally and there is a process to deal with that. I've visited several chapters in my area just to see how different chapters operate and none have that requirement.

Hey, diff'rent strokes, man. Do what works for you.

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  #42  
Old 06-04-2012, 05:58 PM
CookieBeast CookieBeast is offline
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Join Date: Sep 2009
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Re: BNI - Business Network International - Scam?

Quote:
Originally Posted by valkyriebiker View Post
There is nothing in the BNI regs (blah blah)
What a shock - they don't post their membership contract online. Ain't that a surprise, eh?

I already addressed this previously - it's an area of concern that the OP or anyone considering joining BNI should review very carefully. If it's not in their contract, then fine - if it is, then it should be setting off all their "scam alert" alarm bells.

Did you not understand what I wrote? Is, "Anyone should make their own decisions with regards to BNI - but I call attention to clauses of guests and referrals as a section of particular interest for anyone considering this." - too complex a sentence for you to comprehend?

Quote:
Originally Posted by valkyriebiker View Post
BNI allows three absences per six-month period.
There was no absence waiver in the BNI membership agreement that I reviewed.

Since you asked me for proof of my claim of quotas - surely you won't feel offended that I ask for the same from you.

Provide a link to the membership contract which states this. Oh, right - BNI doesn't put that online. Such a surprise.

Quote:
Originally Posted by valkyriebiker View Post
Good for you. I made $125,000 from my BNI contacts last year alone.
You're back to using anecdotal evidence?

You're funny. You complain about my use of my negative opinions presented as fact. The term for that is "anecdotal evidence". And here you do it once again. You do realize how much of a hypocrite you are, don't you?

I'm not saying that people should or should not join BNI. All I'm saying is - read the contract very very carefully. Understand exactly what is required of you and the repercussions of not meeting those obligations.

Quote:
Originally Posted by valkyriebiker View Post
BNI rules do NOT REQUIRE anyone to use people in the chapter. Show me a link that says otherwise.
You're a paid-up BNI member. Surely you can scan and post your group's membership contract online. Nothing confidential about it at all.

But to answer your comment - yes, that was quite specifically stipulated in the contract. You are OBLIGED to send referrals to BNI group members if there's a member that is in that line of business. Failure to do so can result in disciplinary sanctions from fines to revocation of membership. That's how they put it in the contract I reviewed.

Let's just settle this the simple way - scan and post a membership agreement. Surely there's no harm in that, right?

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  #43  
Old 01-10-2013, 04:11 PM
siberprisesinc siberprisesinc is offline
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Join Date: Jan 2013
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Re: BNI - Business Network International - Scam?

I happened to attend a BNI meeting this morning at 7am. I didn't feel it was a scam or any kind of cult. The people I met today were from different businesses and all walks of life. I liked the fact that most of them were local as well. I am a Home Inspector and there is a Real Estate Person and a Mortgage person, and a Banking person. If I got one inspection from any one of those persons that would pretty much pay for the membership fee.

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  #44  
Old 01-10-2013, 05:16 PM
valkyriebiker valkyriebiker is offline
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Join Date: May 2012
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Re: BNI - Business Network International - Scam?

Hi siberprisesinc. Yes, if the group you visited is like mine, you'll find a roomful of mostly small business owners. My group has 25 people in it. About a third are sole props, another third are small biz with less than 10 employees, and a few couple work for large firms (insurance lines, mostly).

The whole accusation of BNI being a cult or scam is just prima facie ridiculous and I'll no longer engage the trolls asserting such. I mean, what's the point? For the year just ended, BNI referrals and the knock-on referrals as a result of BNI, accounted for a sizeable chunk of my business. My ROI is well over 100-fold for 2012. What other advertising can do that?

BNI, like many organizations, has rules and procedures. Otherwise there would be anarchy. Everyone has a different experience and will get out whatever they put in. Just because some fail at BNI doesn't detract from the legitimacy of the organization. I've been in BNI now for my fifth year and have been happy and successful.

BTW, this forum can send notifications of new posts. That's how I saw yours and came to reply.

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  #45  
Old 01-14-2013, 10:31 AM
siberprisesinc siberprisesinc is offline
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Join Date: Jan 2013
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Re: BNI - Business Network International - Scam?

Hi Valkyriebiker,
I am curious about fees though. It costs $365 for a years membership, and in my line of work, I could recoup 90% with one referral if I closed the job. But are there other fess that you are expected to pay?

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  #46  
Old 01-14-2013, 04:25 PM
valkyriebiker valkyriebiker is offline
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Join Date: May 2012
Posts: 5
Re: BNI - Business Network International - Scam?

The yearly membership dues and sign-up fee ($100, I think) goes to the franchise holder. Some chapters have additional dues that covers your meal (breakfast or lunch) and possibly rental on the facility where they meet.

My chapter meets in a private room of a restaurant and charges $15 a week, which pays for a nice buffet with entrees, veggies, drink, and dessert with waitstaff. Each chapter works similarly though the details may differ.

The biggest investment in BNI is the time commitment. I mean, the fees with lunch are about $1K a year, tax deductible of course, but the two hours a week is the real investment. If you serve as an officer, your yearly dues is suspended, but you still pay for lunch (in most chapters).


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