Home » How do we build visibility and credibility for ourselves within our BNI business meeting?

How do we build visibility and credibility for ourselves within our BNI business meeting?

by Richard Foulkes

What is BNI’s most well known and leading Core Value?

Yes, you are all correct, it is Givers Gain®.

How about this: in what part of the meeting do we stand up and show Givers Gain®? That’s right, it is during the Referrals and Testimonials section of the meeting. It is where we talk about what we have done for other members, rather than our ask or what we have gained for ourselves.

Sometimes it is called the most important part of the meeting or the “business” part of the meeting because it shows our engagement with each other, the effort we are putting in and the business being passed. It is where we can be visible in a positive and productive way whilst also building our credibility with our fellow members.

There is a Structure

BNI has a structure for what we should say in the referrals and testimonials section of the meeting. The BNI system is a proven foundation for chapter and member success so bear with me while I explain the recommended structure:

1. We plan what we are going to announce. The time we each have is finite, so we need to use it well.
2. It’s not an opportunity to pitch our business again and relive our weekly presentations.
3. Referrals come first, have priority, and are half of the reason we are here. Announce the referrals you have made (and recorded in the App). If you have more than one announce how many you have and highlight one that you particularly enjoyed giving. Referrals show you are giving to others, enhancing your credibility.
4. If you still have time or don’t have a referral this week then give a short, meaningful testimonial for a member that has recently done some work for you or a contact of yours that you referred to them.

That’s it. Ok, hold still your beating hearts. I know that sounds like no fun and the referrals and testimonials part of the meeting should be fun.

Anything but Nothing (T&Cs apply)

We all need to stand and give something during the referrals and testimonials part of the meeting. We need to show we are engaged and here to give.

We all need to try to have something to announce. It’s what makes it more than a social gathering. But what if we feel we don’t have anything to announce in any given week?

Maybe we were on holiday, unwell, or extremely busy? We still need to stand and say something. How does this work?

Stand and Deliver

Firstly, never apologise for not having a referral.

If you can’t think of a testimonial, it’s okay to mention a one-to-one you HAVE had (not going to have). But instead of saying “I had 5 one-to-ones”, or “we had a nice catch up” or “the lunch was good”, highlight something you learned that would add value to that member’s chances of getting a referral.

Announcing TYFCB or thanking members for their referrals is linked to your gain, not your giving so generally doesn’t fit into the structure. The best way to do that is by updating the referral status in the app and/or by email or text directly with the member who passed you the referral.

Worst case scenario, you haven’t had a one to one this week either, you could highlight a positive interaction with another member.

Oh, and PC banter is still fun and very much encouraged.


We often see “classification creep” in BNI. A member will do something in the meeting outside of the normal, proven structure. It seems like a good idea; others copy it, and it becomes part of the meeting and over time the meeting moves away from what have been proven to work for over 38 years! Occasionally we just need to remind ourselves what is best practice without losing sight of having fun and enjoying the meeting.

You may also like