Join my networking cult?

A couple of months ago, I got an invite from a friend-of-a-friend who was interested in forming a new North Brooklyn chapter of the business networking organization BNI. I had heard of BNI, but had (quite luckily and happily) always been too busy working to check it out.

However, this personal invitation grabbed me. I’d be founding a new group (fun professional development activity), with this friend-of-a-friend who I totally hit it off with (fun social activity), and would almost certainly gain some new business connections (fun $$$).

Ladies of BNI

The photo of our founding members I’m sending out with all my email invites. Who wouldn’t want to join us?!

But it turns out it’s a pretty long and involved process to get a group started, and as we go through the paces, I admit I’m experiencing bouts of cold feet.

Here’s a plusses and minuses rundown—maybe you can help me decide if I should continue?


  • BNI has been around for 30ish years, is based on the who-could-argue-with-that? premise “Givers Gain,” and bazillions of business owners and sole proprietors around the world seem to swear by it.
  • Chapter groups’ weekly meetings are usually held in hilarious old-school diners (around here, anyway), so members can look forward to a hearty breakfast and bottomless cuppa joe with their fellows as they sharpen their elevator pitches and swap referrals.
  • There’s a whole lotta small business going on in North Brooklyn these days, with an especially hot injection of “creatives” in recent years. Business-swapping opportunities abound!


  • Meetings are every week at 7:00 am. ’nuff said.
  • There are dues, to the tune of about $100 a month, all told.
  • Nine out of ten times I tell someone about BNI, they ask, “Is this a cult?”

So, dear readers, what do you think? Have you heard of BNI? What’s your impression? Had any experiences with it yourself? If you were me, what would you do?