So you’ve been invited to a BNI meeting at Marshland…

What happens next? Our advice would simply be come along and enjoy the meeting.

We've tried to answer a few questions you may have below, but nothing we say can really do the experience justice. 

Our visitor host team are always available to answer questions.

Helen Robinson

Visitor Host Coordinator

Adrian Needham

Visitor Host

Graham Carter

Visitor Host

So what is BNI?

BNI is an acronym for Business Network International – originating in America there are now BNI chapters across the world, all meeting once a week to help business people grow their businesses through referral marketing (not to be confused with multi level marketing). Making new business contacts and connections improves your opportunities and members actively look for referral business for each other throughout the week.

What is a referral?

A referral is an opportunity to do business, to provide a quote or proposal for work, it is not a guarantee of billable work. The important thing to note about referrals is that they should be “warmed up” as in the person or business should be expecting your call and already know something about your business and the services you offer. As a member of BNI you should not expect to cold call any referrals you receive unless you are asking for that type of referral specifically e.g. an estate agent might ask the chapter to note down locations of competitors sale boards throughout a town. They wouldn’t expect you to knock on the individual doors for them but they would appreciate the list that they can then follow up on.

What about my competition?

Well in BNI only one business from each profession/category is allowed to join a chapter. So if an accountant joins Marshland Chapter, then no other accountants can join the chapter. This means you are locking your competition out from the other members in that specific chapter and the referrals they generate for you.

What happens in the meetings?

We meet at 6.45am for 7am and we always finish by 8.30am, this allows you to start your business day as normal. Once you get in the habit of going to meetings the time seems fairly natural.


There is an opportunity for open networking if you get to the meetings at the start (6:30am) and perhaps leave a little later. This gives you a chance to catch up with other members and visitors either side of the structured meeting. 

What happens in the structured part?

Simply take your seat, the chapter president will manage the meeting through each stage, so just sit back, relax and enjoy the meeting. There’ll be an education piece which helps the members understand specific parts of the BNI structure, then the round of weekly presentations (normally 60 seconds each member and visitors), a 10-minute speaker will then give a more detailed presentation on their business. Finally there is a session for members to pass referrals and possibly some announcements before the close of the meeting, visitors are asked to go for a short meeting with the visitor hosts to find out how they felt about the meeting.

You want me to talk?

Of course we would like you to, but first off remember we are not here to judge your ability to present, we just want to hear about you and your business. It gives each member an opportunity to understand who the visitors are and starts the thought process of how they can help you. But if you're not happy with the idea, tell a visitor host and we'll make sure you're not put on the spot.

What else do I need to know?

Well as a visitor that’s it really, but you do need to bring four things to the meeting.

  1. Yourself
  2. An open mind
  3. A bundle of business cards
  4. £10 for the meeting fee

Everything else you need to know will be covered in the meeting and by the visitor hosts at the end of the meeting.

If you have been invited to Marshland then please come along and enjoy the experience and make use of the opportunities. You have simply been invited to a business breakfast with like minded business people who might just be able to help you find more business this year and into the future.