Episode 297: The Value of Your BNI Membership

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Dawn Lyons, co-author with Dr. Misner of the new book Room Full of Referrals, joins him on the podcast today to talk about assessing the value of your BNI Membership.

BNI members get more from their membership besides referrals and business. This assessment tool helps members realize how they have progressed in their businesses since joining BNI. Rate yourself on a scale of 0 (lowest) to 5 (highest) before BNI and now.

Some of the non-monetary benefits of BNI membership:

  • Feeling like you have a team people helping you in your business
  • Being able to speak clearly and confidently about your business
  • Being able to ask specifically for the kind of clients you need.

Leadership teams, take note: a good time to ask members to fill these out is shortly before renewals are due!

BNI Assessment Form Screenshot

Click the image to download the BNI Assessment.

Brought to you by Networking Now.

Podcast intro recorded by Tony Wolfe.

Hello everyone and welcome back to The Official BNI Podcast brought to you by NetworkingNow.com, which is the leading site on the net for networking downloadables. I am Priscilla Rice, and I am coming to you from Live Oak Recording Studio in Berkeley, CA. I am joined on the phone today by the Founder and Chairman of BNI, Dr. Ivan Misner. Hello Ivan. How are you?

I am doing great, Priscilla, and it reminded me that I had somebody recently say, “Oh, BNI is in Berkeley, California.” No, that is where we are recording. You are located in Berkeley, but BNI HQ is actually located in southern California in Upland, and we do this recording through your studio remotely. For those interested, Priscilla is in Berkeley and BNI HQ is in southern California.

And you are in Dawn Lyons’ region, who is my guest today, right?

I am in Dawn Lyons’ region. I am a proud member of her region.

Dawn is my guest today. Dawn has been a BNI Director for more than 12 years. She actually operates three franchises of BNI and is also the Vice President and partner with the Referral Institute, which is an international consulting and training company. Dawn is a contributing author to the NY Times best selling Masters of Sales, which I co-wrote. She is also a keynote speaker on networking and referrals. Dawn’s also my co-author of my brand new book, which just came out: Room Full of Referrals. Dawn, it’s a real pleasure to have you on the podcast today.

Yes. Thank you very much for having me.

I love the topic. The topic for today is about assessing the value of your BNI membership. You have put together some material, which for those of you listening to the podcast, there will be either a PDF or a Word file of this document that we are talking about. It will be available here on the podcast where you can download it and take a look at it while we are talking.

Dawn, assessing the value of BNI membership- can you tell us about how you put this concept together and how members can use it?

Yes, the interesting thing is that I know a lot of BNI folks actually get a lot of referrals and business and things like that out of their membership. At the same time, I really feel like there are so many other things that come from being a BNI member, no matter where they are in the world. I was sitting down one day and thought I wonder if there are some questions that we can ask our members, almost to take a poll or to learn from them what else have they gained from being a member of BNI?

We started to come up with some questions. I was sitting at my kitchen table and I thought, you know what? This would be a great assessment to help people understand where they were as a business owner before they got started with their BNI membership and where they are today.

Ivan, you know me pretty well. I am a results oriented type of person. I always want to see people succeed as much as possible, so I ask people to take kind of a reality check. Where are they right now in their business, where they were before- and kind of rate themselves. When the people who are listening to the podcast take a look at the form, there are two columns. “Before BNI” and you’ll give yourself a rating. Then where you are now after being a member of BNI.

I think it is just a great way to kind of rate yourself as to what BNI has done for you.

Some of the items, in case you are not in front of BNIpodcast.com and can’t download it but you are listening to this, some of the kinds of questions- and then I want you to talk, Dawn, about some of the ones you like. But two or three questions are like “I speak clearly and confidently about my business.” Before BNI and now, you are asking them to score on a scale of 0 to 5, 0 being the lowest and 5 being the highest.

Then other questions are like “ I have a deeper level of understanding of my business.” “I feel like I am better connected with local business owners.” The idea is to give BNI members an idea or sense of what it was like before you were a member of BNI and what’s it like now? Is that a good assessment?

Yeah. Absolutely. It was interesting because we did this during a leadership team training back in September, and as I was walking around the room, kind of peeking over people’s shoulders, looking at their assessment, you know, there were a lot of 1’s and 2’s on the left hand column and a lot of 3’s, 4’s and 5’s on the now column. To see that level of improvement in people is always a great thing.

Excellent. Now, there are a few that you particularly like, based on members in your region. Do you want to talk a little bit about that? I know that number 7 is one of them.

Yeah, number 7 is one of my favorites and it reads, “ I feel that I have a team of people helping me in my business.” For me, I have talked to so many entrepreneurs who have kind of done it all by themselves. They are trying and trying to make their business work and they are doing all of the work all by themselves. When we really take a look at referrals, with referral marketing, you just can’t do it alone. It’s impossible to do alone.

Once people really get solidified in BNI and start creating those relationships that you talk about all the time, they wind up feel like at last, they have a team of people that know some of their goals, and know where they want to go, that actually end up helping them in their business and helping them to build their business.

So I think it’s a real crucial aspect that you gained from BNI without knowing that, walking into signing that application for BNI.

Excellent. What are a couple of others that you really like?

I think the other one that I like is right underneath that, which is, “I have additional resources to share with my clients.” What I really like about this one is that when you are really well-connected, it’s actually an asset to your businesses.

I am not sure how well BNI members actually look at this as an asset, but let’s say I am a graphic designer. Somebody walks into my office that day- it’s one of my clients- and they are having a lousy day. I start to complain about their computer. Their tone isn’t so hot anymore. They’re stressing out the family and different things like that.

Anytime, I hear a complaint, I have the resources to refer them to other people. What that does for me as a business owner is I can help my clients in other areas of their lives versus what I do for them alone. I think it’s a really positive thing that after a while, our contacts actually end up contacting us for more resources.

I am sure you have a lot of experience with this as well. It is a huge asset to business owners.

I think it is a real benefit. I think sometimes people don’t really think about this benefit unless they have some sort of assignment to figure out what the benefits of membership in BNI. However, when asked, members almost always come up with this one: “ I have additional resources to share with clients” It almost always comes up. It’s interesting because it is not one of the reasons that I started BNI.

Yeah, exactly.

But it’s almost always one of the reasons that members give when asked what are some of the benefits for you as an individual.

There is another one on the list on #11. “I have strong presentation skills.” Before and after. It is certainly one that I have seen a huge difference before and after.

Absolutely. It is probably one of the strongest ones where it was very low in the “Before BNI “ column and then the “now” column is a lot higher. It is due to all the presenting that each of our members do every week.

Right. Many people have never had any kind of speech training or presentation training. They haven’t been active in groups like Toastmasters, which by the way, I highly recommend. Because of that, BNI is for many people, the only regular practice they have in doing regular presentation.

Here is another one that I really like- and by all means, if you have others, speak up. “I am able to ask specifically for the types of clients that I desire.” Wow. That one is so important.

With that one, when people start to do it every week, it is a great opportunity to help them get more and more specific. You talk about specificity so often when people are doing their 60-second infomercials and things of that nature.

We are almost out of time. Before I wrap up, though, tell me that you think in terms of best utilization for this kind of instruments is. Clearly, anytime for a chapter is a good time to have members do this, but there are a couple of opportunities in particular where you want to use this. Would you like to share one or two of those?

Yeah, what I loved the most is when we actually did this live at the membership team training, one of the members stood up and said, “Hey, would it be possible for us to get this form to allow membership committee members to use this about three months before somebody is going to renew their members?”

Guess what my answer was. Absolutely. I thought that was just perfect time frame for people to look at. Before BNI, here is where I was rating myself. And now that I have been in BNI for one year or five or six years, here is how I rate myself.

I think that was probably the most opportune point, as well as the educational coordinators who were really excited about using this as an educational moment.

I agree completely. I think both of those are excellent reasons. For renewals, I think that is a really important one. You want people to sort of assess the value of their relationship before they renew. I have found- I remember one person notably who was thinking about not renewing. Then she sat down and did this kind of assessment. It wasn’t using this form, but she kind of did this type of assessment. She realized she had so much business coming from BNI that she would be crazy to not renew.

This is the kind of thing that gets people thinking. It’s true- because you don’t always- we’re all busy doing what business needs to do to operate. We don’t always assess everything, so this is a great tool for that.

You developed the material. Assessing the value of your BNI membership, Dawn. Great job on this. I would like to see this used globally. If you are listening to this podcast, share it with your chapters. Dawn, I want to thank you very much for putting this together. Any closing thought before I turn it over to Priscilla?

I would just really recommend that people actually use it. I think it is a great tool and it will show people not just what they are gaining from BNI on a business level but also personally and how they are becoming a better leader and better presenter through many other questions that are present on this form.

Great. Dawn, thanks for your contribution. We appreciate it. For those of you listening to the podcast, if you have some observations, please leave a message here on BNIpodcast.com. Priscilla, back to you, thanks.

Okay, great. Thank you both. That was wonderful. I happened to be there when Dawn presented that to the leadership training. So, I got to see the form and use it. I think that’s it for this week. I would just like to remind the listeners that this podcast has been brought to you by networkingnow.com, which is the leading site on the net for networking downloadables. Thank you so much for listening. This is Priscilla Rice, and we hope you will join us next week for another exciting episode of The Official BNI Podcast.


  1. says

    I am from BNI Brazil and I am a member since july 2012.
    I am very happy in joinning BNI. Better than family and school networkings, BNI is giving me clients. At BNI there is no place for selfish people. I like this phrase: We are not hunters, we are farmers. Thanks, BNI and Dr. Ivan Misner! Sorry my poor EN.

  2. says

    Great podcast!

    As a BNI Director Consultant in Berkshire, UK this will be fabulous for my core group and new members as it creates the expectation of improvement, together with reminding more long standing members of how far they’ve come, and maybe even identify training opportunities too.

    Keep up the good work.

  3. Ed Edison Diniz says

    Este foi meu primeiro Podcast. Excelente! Anotei, ao menos, 10 ideias para compartilhar com nosso Grupo Dinâmico, em São Bernardo do Campo, São Paulo, Brasil. Achei este Podcast o melhor, pois nos ajuda aproveitar melhor os próximos. Obrigado por compartilhar seus conhecimentos. Até breve!

    Translation (Google Translate): This was my first Podcast. Excellent! I wrote down at least 10 ideas to share with our Dynamic Group in Sao Bernardo do Campo, São Paulo, Brazil. I found this podcast better, because it helps us make better the next. Thanks for sharing your knowledge. See you soon!

  4. says

    As a Director Consultant from Hyderabad region of #BNI India, I ran this intervention in an Edu slot for the Chapter I am supporting. The renewals were round the corner then. We had 39 people who were due for renewals in a 61 member chapter @ the end of 1st year and guess, how many renewed: 37 out of 39 members. While 1 was relocating the other application was rejected by the MC team.
    It was simply Awesome.

    I am going to run the same again in my chapter on MAY 22nd 2013. I am pretty excited on this.
    Thanks Dr. Ivan Misner, Dawn & Priscilla.

Solutions-focused comments are welcome