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What is the BNI Attendance Policy Again?

by Richard Foulkes

What is the Attendance Policy again?

In BNI we know that showing up each week is the bare minimum to fulfil our commitment to our fellow BNI members. Coming to the meeting each week is a crucial factor in helping us be Visible and Credible which gives us the opportunity to be Profitable (VCP).

But life and the unexpected happens and it’s not always possible to be there each week.

So, the Attendance Policy has been carefully set based on research and with the approval of the BNI Board of Advisors which is made up of members. It’s important to note that the Attendance Policy is explained to all members on joining and all members agree to uphold the attendance policy when they sign the application form.

The BNI Attendance Policy states that a member can me absent (without sending a suitable substitute) a maximum of 3 times in a rolling six-month period:

Attendance is critical to the group. If a member cannot attend, they may send a substitute (not a member of their own chapter) to the meeting, (this will not count as an absence). A member is allowed three absences in any rolling six-month period. More than this and the individual’s membership may be reviewed by the chapter’s Leadership Team or Membership Committee.

The Attendance Policy is really sick leave

If the unexpected happens at short notice such as falling ill the night before the meeting, a car breakdown the morning of the meeting or a family emergency then the 3 absences in six months are actually your “sick leave”.

If you are planning to be away, then the expectation is that you will send a suitable substitute to represent you. For instance, if you know you are going on holiday, have a meeting or a conference to go to then arranging a substitute as soon as you know you can’t make it to a meeting in any given week shows your commitment to the chapter.

Who is a suitable substitute?

Without doubt, the most suitable substitute is a client who has used your services and is a raving fan. They will give you the most meaningful testimonial while also being a valuable visitor for the group. Employees or colleagues can also be good. The use of “permanent” substitutes should be used only as the last resort, not the immediate go to for a substitute

How to ask a substitute to represent you.

A great way is to frame the invite is to say to a prospective substitute: “Are you doing anything it two weeks on Wednesday for breakfast” No? Great, I’m part of a networking group and if I can’t attend, I can send someone in my place to represent me. I’m away on holiday in two weeks, I think you’d enjoy going, could you go along for me?”

Ideally, they would come to a meeting prior to you being away so they get to know the chapter, where it is and how it works. It’s a good idea to build up a number of possible personal substitutes who can represent you and your business. 

An idea: You can register your substitute as a visitor through the BNI Connect APP. Just add “substitute” after their name when you register them, so the Leadership Team know they are substituting for you and aren’t an actual visitor. Doing this means your substitute gets the meeting reminders, however they won’t be confirmed as a visitor by the Vice President on the PALMS.

Note: The BNI guidelines recommend only allowing a maximum of 3 substitutes in a 6-month period because having more substitutes than this greatly reduces your visibility.


Attending each week is an essential part of membership but when life happens, the absences allowed under the Attendance Policy should be regarded as sick leave, planned absences should be covered by a suitable substitute.

This week’s Education files:
Education PowerPoint:
Education Notes:

BNI University References:
There are a lot of Podcasts about attendance and actual research has been done on the effect low attendance has on referrals (not good). Also, the attendance policy is set at 3 absences over a rolling 6-month period because at that point their visibility suffers so much, they stop getting referrals and of course they don’t give as many either (on average).

BNI Podcast 518 – Want More Referrals? Show up!:

Podcast 261 – The Art of Being There:
Podcast 490 – Show Up. Make Money:

Podcast 436 – Low Absences = More Referrals:

Podcast 440 – Why the Rules:

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