Is BNI a Pyramid Scheme? – What You Should Know
BNI is supposed to be a solution for network marketers to get easier referrals. But is it really just this or is there more to it? After all… as a BNI member you can also make money by just recruiting in other BNI members, which brings up the question is BNI a pyramid scheme or not?
BNI is not your typical network marketing company. What they provide and how it all works can be confusing. In this review I’m going to shed some light on what is going on here and give you my take on the whole pyramid scheme thing. And by the way, I’m not affiliated with this company in any way so I’m not going to be trying to make them look better than they really are.
BNI, or Business Networking International, was founded in 1985 and is considered the worlds largest referral marketing organization. What they bring to the table is different and somewhat of a strange concept. What they provide is word of mouth marketing.
The purpose of people joining BNI is to get referrals for their own business which can be any type of business really. Here is how it works: People join BNI and they share their businesses with their local BNI chapter that meets once a week. Then everyone helps everyone. The other BNI members are supposed to basically advertise you business for you. This is word of mouth marketing and everyone is supposed to do it for everyone.
So the purpose of joining BNI is to expand your business by having a team of BNI members that helps advertise it for you, all the while you also help advertise for the other BNI members in your chapter.
This can be effective but results will vary a lot based on what type of business you have that you want the other members to help advertise for you and how active your BNI chapter is. From what I have read BNI is best for salesmen, traders (plumbers, electricians, etc), real estate agents and other similar job types.
Why People May Think Its a Pyramid Scheme
If you are thinking that BNI is a pyramid scheme then I’m guessing its because members are encouraged to invite other people to join BNI. In a pyramid scheme its all about recruiting in new members so I can definitely see where you are coming from here.
Once you think about the hefty cost of joining BNI, which I will go over soon by the way, along with the fact that members are going out and inviting other members to join in, you may be wondering if its all just a bit recruitment scheme and these members are making a bunch of money off of new members buying in.
Its logical to think this but….
BNI Is Not a Pyramid Scheme and Here Is Why
It may seem like one from the outside but it isn’t at all actually…. not even close.
First off, BNI isn’t even an mlm (multi level marketing) opportunity like iMarketsLive, Mary Kay, Ambit Energy, etc. There are no uplines or downlines. This means there is no pyramid-like compensation plan that members are secretly getting paid by without you knowing.
And second, members don’t even get paid for inviting in other people. If a member invites you in and you join the club by paying the fee, that member doesn’t even make anything. There is no monetary incentive for people to go out and recruit others in like this, which is good in a way because this often leads to at least some corruption.
The reason BNI members invite others to join is to grow their chapter so that it can be more effective with network marketing everyone’s businesses…. not just to bring more people into BNI for the heck of it or to get paid from BNI. That is not how it works.
So although it might slightly appear to be a pyramid scheme from the outside it actually is not in the least.
*Note: BNI franchisees do make money off of memberships but this is different. The franchisees are the ones who set up the BNI chapters. This takes well over $100k to do and is still in no way a pyramid scheme. The actual BNI members that join the franchise still will not make money off of BNI memberships for referrals.
Cost of Joining BNI
If you are considering joining BNI then you have to be serious about it. The membership cost is around $450 per year, which is a nice sized price tag. And there is more on top of this.
You will also have to pay a monthly fee. The monthly fee covers the chapter meetings that you will be having once a week where you will meet with the other BNI members in your area and help each other out. These monthly fees can vary a lot depending on what the meetings are like in your local chapter. From what I understand they go to cover the cost of setting up the meetings so if your meetings include food and drinks, then your monthly membership fees will reflect that.
Conclusion on BNI – Should You Join?
So I hope you have a better understanding about BNI now that you read this over. This company is often not understood completely because it is rather different. But as I established BNI is not in any way a pyramid scheme and you can easily see this for yourself now. Yes there is some form of recruitment of new members but this does not make it a pyramid scheme.
Overall I like what BNI provides. Many members really seem to like it and claim that it helps their businesses greatly. But like I said, a lot of this depends on what type of business you are in. Some businesses just aren’t as marketable when it comes to word of mouth as others are. And then of course the actual BNI chapter makes a difference too. Not all BNI chapters are equal. Some are better managed, larger and stronger than others which make them more effective.
If you are wondering if you should join the decision is up to you. I would do more research and figure out if your business is one that you think could benefit a lot from a word of mouth network like BNI.
If you have any comments or questions please leave them below and I’ll get back to you soon 🙂