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Starting a Chapter
Other Resources:

J. R. Chick Gallagher
Founder, CEO
& Executive Director
BNI Delaware Valley Regions
Phone:  302-994-9593

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If you live in an area where there is not already an active BNI chapter, or you are in a common profession that rarely has an opening in a chapter, you may need to help start a chapter to get the benefits of BNI membership. Yes, this requires effort, but the rewards are truly worth this effort. Most of our experienced members get the majority of their new business, their best business, or both through referrals from their BNI chapter!

Here Is How You Get Started:

1. Attend a BNI chapter meeting in this region. This will help you better understand how it all works and give you the opportunity to see if this is for you. It will also give you an opportunity to ask questions of the other members. You may even make some very important networking contacts and get referred to potential members for a new chapter.

(A.) Call the Director Consultant for the area in which you would like to start a chapter before visiting a chapter. Try to make arrangements to visit a chapter where the Director Consultant will also be visiting. This will allow you to meet the Director Consultant in person and to spend some time with them after the meeting. (To find the Director Consultant for your area click on Find A Chapter on the menu to your left. Select the County where you would like to start a chapter in the search menu. This will give you a list of all of the active chapters in that County, and the name and contact information for the Director Consultant.)

(B.) When you first arrive at the meeting ask the Visitor Host if your profession is already represented in the chapter. If it is not, you will have the option of applying for membership in that chapter.

(C.) If your profession is represented, tell the Visitor Host you are there as an observer because you are thinking about starting a chapter. When the visitors are given the opportunity to give a commercial on themself, don't! Instead give the following as your commercial:

(D.) My name is ________. I am a (profession), with (company). I am here as an observer because I am thinking about starting a chapter, and I have heard great things about BNI and your chapter. A good referral for me would be someone you know who can not get into your chapter, and would like to help start a new chapter. This will avoid any conflict with their member in your profession, and may produce some potential members for your pre-core group.

2. The chapter Visitor Host should give you a Visitor Envelope after the meeting.(If they forget, ask for one.) Review this material!

3. After you visit a chapter, and determine that BNI is for you ask your Director Consultant to set up an appointment to determine the feasibility of starting a new chapter. If you both agree that this is feasible, the Director Consultant will provide you with the initial guidance to create interest in your geographic area. (You should allow 30 minutes for this appointment, and be in front of a computer that has Internet access.)

4. You will begin your recruiting efforts with one thing in mind. You are looking for prospective members with POSITIVE ATTITUDES!

(A.) You can’t do it all by yourself! Find at least two other strong prospective members that are interested in assisting with establishing the chapter. Have them work with you in finding other prospective members to form the core group.

(B.) Have each accepted applicant in the pre-core group sponsor at least one other new member. (This is one of the major requirements for them to secure their category in the new chapter.)

(C.) A Core Group must consist of18 or more active and fully participating members. It should take no more than 60-days to reach the 18-member level needed to become a BNI Core Group (Official Chapter). If this level cannot be reached in 60-days there may not be sufficient interest to form this chapter at this time.

(D.) Your Director Consultant will guide you on ideas about the type professions you should have in your core group and any limitations on what each profession may and may not do.

(E.) You will start meeting as a Pre-Core Group. You will be meeting to recruit new members and learn some basic networking skils.

5. Once you have at least 18 paid applicants, who are all active and fully participating, you will be an official BNI Chapter. All accepted applicants will be inducted as official BNI members, issued new member kits, a Member Success Program (MSP) Manual, and a Kickoff and Visitor Day Guide. (You will continue the recruiting process until you have reached 22 members. Your formal kickoff will be scheduled once you have reached 22 active and fully participating members.)

(A.) Once you have reached 18 members you will be meeting every week. These meetings will all be 90-minutes. A Director or Ambassador will run all of these meetings. You will get a wealth of information about networking and word of mouth marketing.

(B.) Your chapter members will now begin to pass and receive referrals!

6. At about week 3 or 4, after you have become an official BNI Chapter, your Director Consultant will appoint a President, and guide the President through the process of selecting the other Leadership Team members, the Vice President, and Secretary/Treasurer. The President will also appoint an Educational Coordinator. The Leadership Team, with the assistance of the AD, will appoint at least five Membership Committee members. Classroom training for these positions will normally take place after the formal kickoff.

7. A permanent meeting facility is not needed during the startup process until about week 3 of the Core Group process. You will need to find a restaurant as a permanent meeting location. It must be easy to find and have ample parking. A letter of instruction on selecting a restaurant and dealing with the management will be provided to all Core Group members to help in the search. (The Executive Director has final approval of the meeting day, time, and meeting location.)

8. Your Director Consultant will provide all of the material and guidance you will need during the Core Group meetings.

9. The Core Group will set a goal of at least 66 prospective visitors for the formal kick-off meeting. If you have 66 people that GUARANTEE they will be there, 30 might show. If you have 20 people that will TRY to come, five or six might show. It’s important to confirm their attendance. Set it up as a “reservation” for the first meeting. (Your Director Consultant will provide detailed guidance on how to do this during the core group meetings.)

10. Attend business events, such as trade shows or chamber of commerce mixers, so that you can meet people that would be interested in BNI. The Director Consultant will attend these meetings with you, when possible. Please give at least 2 to 3 weeks notice.

11. Set up a roster of the people you have invited to the formal kickoff meeting. This roster should consist of the person’s name, profession, company, position, phone and e-mail address. (We have a form for this purpose.)

12. The Director Consultant will run the kick-off, and next four meetings, until the Leadership Team has been fully trained and feels ready to take over. The Director Consultant will make periodic visits after this to train and support the chapter.

13. The process requires some effort, but the rewards are great. If you approach this opportunity with a positive attitude, you will find it to be a lot of fun and immensely rewarding.

14. By the time a chapter reaches their formal kick-off day many, if not all, of the core group will have received enough referrals to pay for their membership many times over.

15. Successful Networkers get most of their business, their best business, or both, from BNI referrals!