BNI Disadvantages

Last updated on: May 7, 2018 by Ryan Low

If you landed on this page, there is a good chance that you are wondering if joining the networking organization known as BNI will be a good fit to your business. It won’t be surprising if you already knew the benefits that BNI got to offer, now you want to find out what is the other side of the coin, namely BNI’s disadvantages.


No clue what is BNI? Feat not, we got your back covered, we predicted something like this might happen and have an article written just for you; it has got everything you need to know about BNI.

By any chance, you already know what you want to read and is ready to read on, please check out our table of contents – it will allow you to jump straight to the section that interests you the most.

Tables Of Content

it is a scam

This is the classic of them all, someway or another, either you heard it from someone or read it from somewhere in the internet that BNI is a scam!

I do not know about you but personally, I have hear this comment on more than one occasion; as such, I decided to put this in the number one spotlight and talk more about it.

Before I start, I want you to think about this for a second, “is it a coincidence that we can just add the word “scam” to almost everything in this world?”


So I observed the individuals who called BNI a scam, why do they claim that the organization is only out there to cheat their hard earned money?

Here are some of my observations:

  1. They claim that BNI is a brainwashing organization, ponzi scheme or even a pyramid scheme which psychos their members to work hard for them.
  2. They claim that BNI members are not members but customers.
  3. They claim that it doesn’t work and Dr Ivan Misner or someone on the top is a scammer.

To put it simply, it did not work out for them to their expectations and they are left with excuses. If it worked out well, do you reckon they will be saying the same thing?

Definitely not! In fact, they will be saying BNI is the best thing ever; this applies to everything around us and is based on the 80/20 rule.

So why do I have this as a disadvantage? Well, people who fail in BNI is always around and will definitely be a wet blanket throughout your journey; whether you make it big or fail, they are always the one who comes up on top.

Whether BNI is a scam or not, only you can decide for yourself, not me, not anyone else; if you allow other people to control your thoughts than you will never control your destiny!

expensive membership

Yup, you hear it right, BNI comes with an expensive membership fee; for a new application, it is a whooping $810 SGD for a years worth of membership or $1,228 SGD for two years worth of membership. Both includes a one-time application fee of $

For subsequent years, it costs around $400 – $600 yearly to keep your membership active.


Apart from that, training courses although optional are not completely subsidised by the chapter’s fund. For some courses, members have to incur the full training fees. Check out the full membership breakdown if you are keen to join BNI.

Finally, transportation, venue and food is not inclusive of your membership fees as such for every weekly meetings, members have to contribute $20 – $30 in order to run the show.

All these adds up to an estimate of $1,800 to $2,500 depending on the choice of venue and preparation of food.

Honestly, I am not saying this is a lot of money but if you are low on budget, you might want to reconsider joining BNI for the time being.

Ultimately, it is up to you because I have seen individuals who spend that kind of money on a beverage.

strict policies

This is the main reason why people leave BNI as the rules are stringent, and if you do not leave on your own accord, the leadership community have the power to ask you to leave.

So what are these strict policies? To make it simpler for you, let me break it down into three parts: attendance, invites and referrals.

Let us start with attendance – in BNI, members must attend all the weekly meetings and they must come on time. What happens if you cannot make it? It is simple, you must get a replacement who will stand in your behalf. All these is to show your commitment level to the group and the system.

However, if you consistently miss out on the meetings despite having a substitute, you may be given a warning or even worst, asked to leave.

The strict attendance policy is what turns many people off as we are all busy people and may have occasional last minute matters that pop up.


For the invites and referral policies, I feel it is best to mash them up because I can cover them both together; simply put, members have to invite visitors to the BNI meetings to experience the culture and determine whether they are a fit to the group and also consistently give out qualified referrals to other members on a weekly basis.

This can become a major disadvantage to many as they find it a chore to find visitors or even qualified referrals.

What makes the matter worst is that members are to announce weekly what have they done to support the chapter.

So how can you get over this? Time management is the key here, you will need to dedicate a small portion of your time weekly to plan who to invite and list down potential clients whom you might refer to your members.

Let’s say, you decide to do planning every Wednesday 7:30pm – 8pm, then focus and do it only during that time, for the rest of the week, focus on your business!

the people creates the culture

The sad truth about any BNI chapter is that the people creates the culture; the group is as strong as the individuals within it.

This principle is the same throughout any organization, groups or teams – if the people do not have a common goal and is just in it for himself, the group will not go far.


Sadly, there is no changing that as personalities can not be changed over night, this is the reason why there are some chapters that are doing high volumes of referral sales while some seemed to dwindle as time passes before disappearing forever.

My advice is to visit as many chapters as you want to feel the culture and decide if you are a match to the group before jumping the gun.

bad referrals

This brings me to my next point, bad or bogus referrals that are handed out by members.

Frankly, there is nothing much, we can do about this as this is already predetermined by the culture of the chapter.

The big question is, “did BNI do anything to encourage members to pass quality referrals?”

The answer is yes, they have a referral system that members use to rank their referrals. Furthermore, there are training programs and mentorship on how to receive and pass good referrals.


So what really is the problem? The members, themselves, whether they like it or not is the underlying problem of such a practice – if the culture created is bad then bad referrals will become a regular occurrence.

However, I have a solution, apart from finding a group with a good culture, learn how to simplify the way that you ask for a referral; the clearer your message, the better odds of you getting what you want.

old method of getting new business

It is no secret that BNI is an organization that puts high weightage on traditions; in fact, this is also one of BNI’s core values.

That alone can be a factor that turns people off as the world is changing continuously, now we have the internet and social platforms; we are now more connected than ever.

In fact, the leaders of BNI recognises this and they themselves are leveraging on technology to help members grow.

Check out this video on the future of BNI:

Play Video

The issue now is that some members feels that BNI relies a lot on the traditional method of meeting individuals to build trust and connection before business.

But think about it, isn’t word of mouth still the most powerful marketing tool around?

Furthermore, no one is stopping us from leveraging on the unlimited power of the internet; we can even use it to invite visitors to the meetings or get more deals for our businesses.

Not Applicable To All Trades

Finally, we are down to the last disadvantage of BNI, hurray!

Is it true that not all trades can benefit from BNI? My short answer is yes, indeed it is true that not all industries can benefit from the business aspect of BNI which is receiving referrals.

This is especially true when your business deals with something that is unique and highly technical to the market place.

For instance, you are a general practitioner who runs a neighbourhood clinic, how do you expect to get good referrals from BNI when most of your clients are walk in customers from the neighbourhood.


In short, if the business that you are representing does not really require referrals to flourish, keep your foot out of BNI.

Some trades that are known to benefit from BNI includes insurance agent, realtor, printer, renovator, interior designer, renovation contractor and many more.

If your trade is not in the list and you want to know if BNI will work out for you, just leave a comment below.


I hope this article gives you a clearer picture on the negative side of the networking organization; for one, it is clear that BNI is not meant for everyone.

Now its your turn, please share with me your negative stories of BNI whether you had a bad experience during a visitor’s day or a terrible journey, I would like to read them.

Talk soon!

Ryan Low
Ryan Low
Ryan Low is an internet entrepreneur, web designer, SEO specialist, writer and realtor based in Singapore. He enjoys writing articles that will help people with creating wealth and financial freedom. In his free time, Ryan loves to travel, experience the different cultures around the world and scuba diving.

15 Responses

  1. I went to my first BNI meeting this week. It was a huge turnout, with many first timers there. I just opened my business in the last month, and I work in a niche field of manual therapy called Rolfing structural integration. So the idea of working with a group of collaborative businesses, helping me get my business running sounds great. After reading ur article. I am niche, and I don’t have a lot of clients to refer already. Curious what u think? It was not a bad experience, it seemed a little uptight for my taste and possible to do the same thing without all the money to pay in.

  2. Pretty section of content. I just stumbled upon your site and in accession capital to say that I
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  3. Interested in this article very much, after visiting my local BNI through invitation yesterday.

    The membership fee is too high, no explanation of what you receive for £1000 per year plus £20 per week for an unhealthy breakfast….and and prospect of no summer recess is a bit outdated in terms of sensible practices.

    Will visit again to decide which way to sway, join or ask what I am paying so much for???

  4. Hi. I’m from New Delhi (India) and I’ve got a friend in BNI, who wants me to join BNI too. He is a free lancer graphics designer. I’m about to start my retail pharmacy store in a few days (say about a fortnight from now).
    Is it beneficial for me or not?

  5. It is so very dependent on chapter but my business is represented in two local chapters. In one my ROI is 25X my investment and in the other it is 91X my investment. Both are good but clearly one is better than the other. I certainly would not choose to spend my time in a group like this unless it made sense. For me BNI has been the single best marketing investment that we made. It did take time though. I didn’t get a single referral for 6 months. I worked diligently to get to know everyone and to do al of the things to get myself referrals. Now I am almost 6 years in which is so surprising to me.

    It is a big time commitment but people who complain about attendance bug me. You have 6 times that you can be gone per 6 month rolling period which is once per month. If you really are going to be gone more than 25% then why sign up? Showing up is part of the game of life. Don’t expect to be gone and get referrals.

    I disagree with you about the neighborhood clinic. Visibility and credibility are important even if you are a walk in clinic and BNI is targeted at both of those items. I think the biggest challenge is actually for B2B businesses. That being said if there is a good group of people in B2B then it can be great. MLM companies will not do well because they are dependent on growing their network which you can’t do in BNI. I always tell someone if they are an MLM or not a great fit for our chapter before they join to reconsider because a bigger chapter is not always better. A strong and productive chapter can do amazing things.

    Also if you get bad referrals then do one of two things: 1. Teach the person how to refer you better next time. 2. If you can’t teach them to improve then coach other people who give better referrals.

    At the end of the day people get when they put in and while there are some professions that don’t do well there most can if there is a strong support.

  6. I’ve been in lots of BNI core groups and never actually joined one that has launched. I’ve been to many others established as a substitute and what I have found is after going a few times I have received business from other groups. In my opinion it does work and you get out the time you put in. Also depends on who is director how regimented they are have to say our executive is really great

  7. I have a question: Do you know where or how to get what I’ve been told a BNI rule book? is it on the net? We are having some issues with our leadership team and nomination rules, who can be nominated, how it works, by who gets to nominate who? Who is eligible? Things like that so for clarification purposes I and others feel we should have the right to see these rules if there is even any pertaining to our questions? The who’s how’s why’s and what’s we feel should be available to all ? I would appreciate any help if you know any of this info? here is my e mail
    thank you

  8. What are your thoughts on BNI advantages (and disadvantages) for a private/solo massage therapy practice? Massage has a nearly universal appeal, but I don’t spend a great deal of time speaking with clients at length about anything, let alone business opportunities/networking.

  9. What are your thoughts on BNI advantages (and disadvantages) for a private/solo massage therapy practice? Massage has a nearly universal appeal, but I don’t spend a great deal of time speaking with clients at length about anything, let alone business opportunities/networking. Thanks!

  10. Hi Ryan,

    I appreciate the way you described. is BNI good for the Software Development company? Can we join BNI chapter of other country via online?


    1. This question really depends on the chapter because there are various chapters which are made up of people.

      With people, there are many different styles, culture and personality.

      In the end, whether it works or not depends on alot on the people of your chapter that you join.

  11. BNI in the midwest is full of racism, liars, colluding and statistic padding. If you don’t go to the social events, you’re a leper. ISave your money.

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