I Do Not Have Time For Your Referrals

Services for Real Estate Pros with BNI

As an Area Director for BNI in Southwestern Virginia, I am continually amazed at the number of business professionals that say they do not have time to receive referrals from a BNI chapter.

Is it me or what? I would spend a half-day with someone if they were going to refer someone to me. I also know that if I take care of their referral that they will pass another and another and it will not require that I spend extraordinary amounts of time with them.

Now I do not know how much you know about BNI, but in a nutshell, you attend an hour-and-a-half meeting and conduct an hour one-to-one with another chapter member each week.  In return you have the opportunity to train your 'sales force' (the chapter members) on how to listen for and, consequently, pass you good referrals.  You learn what good referrals are for the other members of the chapter, you get to meet the new visitors each week and there is even more that will not fit into this proverbial nutshell.

My question is how much time is "too much time" in order to get qualified referrals on a regular basis?

With over 100,000 members meeting weekly to pass referrals and make strategic introductions for each other, BNI is the World's Leading Referral Organization.  To find out more about BNI go to www.bniswva.com.

2008 BNI Logo


Comments (21)

Josh Perrington
Arkshire Financial - Marietta, GA
Well said Neal & very glad to see you with Active Rain!  I absolutely understand the value of referrals (thanks to you & Paula!) & anything I can do to help, just ask!  You can have half of my day anytime!! :)
Feb 02, 2008 12:27 PM
Uniqca V. Powell
Samson Properties - Washington, DC
Brightwood / Takoma Neighborhood Spec.

Hi Neal,

Thank you for inviting me to this group.  As you know, since BNI only allows one profession, per chapter, and my profession as a Real Estate Agent was and is filled in ALL of the Chapters in my local area, I CONQUERED MY FEAR and decided to start a BNI chapter in my local area.  How did I do this?

1.  I was introduced, initially, to BNI about 3 years ago; however, at the time, I did not feel that my list of approved vendors was suitable.  Thus, I decided, although not necessary to start a BNI, to WAIT until my list was to my satisfaction.

2.  Then, in the Fall of 2007, I decided that it was time for me to do SOMETHING DIFFERENT.

3.  I called the loan officer who initially invited me to BNI, and he gave me the phone number of one of the area directors to call.  He also gave me the BNI website.

4.  I called EVERY LOCAL Area Director until someone called me, and I received the proper contact person for my area.

5.  Had a phone conference with this Director for ideas.  She decided that since another group was also starting that we would have a BNI General Overview Meeting.  I was encouraged to invite everyone to this meeting who I wanted to be a part of my BNI Chapter.

6.  I also reviewed ALL of the websites for the CHAPTERS that are in my area.  This gave me insight regarding the BNI weekly meeting . . . its format . . . and what is basically required.

7.  From there, I formulated a letter and e-mailed it out to ALL of my business contacts.  I invited them to this BNI General Overview Meeting.  I invited approximately 55+ professions.

8.  What was the Result:  Eleven (11) out of the 55+ that I invited showed up.  Which professions were in attendance among my invitees?

Home Inspector, Real Estate Attorney, Reverse Mortgage Specialist, Appraiser, Tile Installer, Title / Escrow, Me (Realtor), Another Title / Escrow, Termite Inspector, Web Designer, Travel Agent.  YOU MAY FIND THIS HARD TO BELIEVE BUT NO LOAN OFFICER THAT I INVITED SHOWED UP!!!  Out of the two "starting" chapters that were present, I was happy to note that out of the 16 that were present, to include the Director and the Ambassador, I had 11 that were in attendance . . . this was awesome!!!

9.  The following week when we met for our first initial meeting with our Core Group, we had about 10 to 15 that showed up.  This was in November 2007.

What is happening now?

We now have seven (7) professions who have signed up.  What professions are they?

Title/Escrow (Also a Real Estate Attorney), Reverse Mortgage Specialist, Loan Officer, Residential Real Estate (ME), Banker, Property/Casualty/Auto Insurance, Financial Planner (Also does Life Insurance and Disability).

If you are in the Largo / Upper Marlboro area OR in Washington, DC and want to join a BNI group, THE FOLLOWING ARE THE PROFESSIONS THAT OUR GROUP IS LOOKING FOR:

Professions we are in need of:

  • Interior Designer
  • Estate Planning Attorney
  • Divorce Attorney
  • Community Event Planner
  • CPA
  • Bookkeeper
  • Tradesperson / Handyman
  • Home Improvement Contractor
  • PR Marketing
  • Property Manager
  • Funeral Director
  • Construction to Perm Lender
  • Builder / Developer
  • Promotional Products
  • Car Salesman / Manager
  • Commercial Lender
  • Commercial Real Estate Agent
  • Independent Care Facility Representative
  • Web Designer
  • Graphic Designer / Printer
  • Construction-to-Perm Specialist
  • IT Computer Person
  • Avon Consultant
  • Mary Kay Consultant
  • Health Insurance Representative
  • Business Coach

NOTE:  Although you must have 15 members to start a chapter, we have been passing referrals . . . having one-on-one's weekly, and I have been putting on Seminars and Workshops allowing the different professions to use our meeting room and inviting my clients.  This has been a great way to keep in contact with my sphere of influence, current clients, past clients.

So, if your area BNI group has your profession filled, take the plunge and BREAK THROUGH YOUR FEAR . . . START A BNI CHAPTER . . . BNI Local Area Directors and Ambassadors will help you!!!

Please provide any comments . . . I would like to know what you think . . . Am accepting any suggestions you may have for us to become a Chapter.  WE NEED EIGHT (8) MORE AND COUNTING . . .

OUR GROUP MEETS EVERY TUESDAY from 11:30am to 1:00pm.  We meet at EXIT Premier Realty in our Training Room (Suite 431).  Our address is: 

EXIT Premier Realty

9701 Apollo Drive, Suite 431 (4th Floor)

Largo, MD  20774

Come on by and check us out!!! Just call me at 301-560-6748 to RSVP and bring $15.00 Meeting Fee.  This Meeting Fee includes lunch.  SEE YOU THERE!!!

NOTE:  The BNI website for our local area is:  www.bnimaryland.com.  Our Chapter is called the:  "Largo Tuesday Lunch Group"

FYI, This week is a special week for BNI.  It is International Networking Week.  The website is:  www.internationalnetworkingweek.com. Thus, this week, all of the Chapters in our area will be meeting on Thursday at Willy K's in Greenbelt, MD.  This will be a fabulous networking event.  If you are in the area this week.  Call me to RSVP for this event . . . It will be GREAT!!!  NOTE:  If you are not in our area this week, go to this website and find where the event is in your area.

If you OR someone you know, can not meet with us this week, REMEMBER, that our group meets every week on Tuesdays from 11:30am to 1pm.  Again, just call Uniqca at 301-560-6748 to RSVP!!!

With Warmest Regards,

Uniqca V. Powell

EXIT Premier Realty

EXIT Premier Realty

Feb 02, 2008 11:08 PM
Neal Frazier
BNI - Roanoke, VA


Thank you for introducing me to AR.  With the growing popularity of online networking I am confident this is a great way to 'meet' new people and move the relationship forward from there. 

Real Estate and Mortgage professionals are the backbone of any BNI chapter and I am sure, over time, I will meet the right people that have the commitment, appreciate structure, have a desire to learn and will embrace the BNI mission of helping members increase their business to lay the foundations for thriving BNI chapters.


Feb 03, 2008 03:41 AM
Neal Frazier
BNI - Roanoke, VA


You are on you way building the next great BNI chapter in your region.  With seven committed members you should easily hit 15 in a couple of weeks (we start at 20 in our region).  I would encourage you to call each of your pre-core members and ask them to SPONSOR someone into the group within two-weeks and then ask them "How can I help you do this?"

Call again a couple of days before your meeting and ask them who they are bringing.  If you do this you will send the message that this is not a spectator sport and that only they can bring the people that know, like and trust them.

Your brief introduction to the group leads me to believe that you are the primary driving force behind the development and it is critical now that you get the others to participate at the same level as you.  Think about it.  What would it look like if the other six each brought 11?  You have to tell them this is what you expect. 

Do you take your visitors to see a showcase chapter before you invite them to you pre-core effort?  I have found this to be a critical step in order for them to have the vision of what you are trying to create.

Have you been schooled in the proper way to invite?

What do you say when someone tells you 'no' or 'I don't have time' or 'I can't afford it'?

Keep in touch and share your challenges and successes.  In the spirit of 'Givers Gain', it will be a pleasure to celebrate in your success and strategize on your challenges.



Feb 03, 2008 04:13 AM
Neal Frazier
BNI - Roanoke, VA


I am so glad we are connecting in the Referrals For Life community.  Paula and I are both honored that you and Bobby are in and we can really begin to make a difference in our businesses and lives.  I know that your addition will be a trememdous asset to everyone involved.  It makes Thursday afternoon exciting.



Feb 03, 2008 04:16 AM

Hi Neal,

I like your suggestions, particularly, the ideal for me to call each of my pre-core members and ask them to SPONSOR someone into the group within two-weeks and then ask them "How can I help you do this?"  You, then, mention to call again a couple of days before the meeting and ask them who they are bringing.

FYI, there is one other person in the core group who is very instrumental in inviting others.  In fact, one of the last two people who recently joined, she invited.  Yes, I did invite the other five.  Therefore, I will work hard on implementing the point that you mentioned, as indicated above.

You asked:  "What would it look like if the other six each brought 11?"  Good question.  If they brough 11, we would have a huge chance of becoming a chapter very soon. 

The problem with taking my core group to see a showcase chapter before I invite them to my pre-core effort, is that the group that is highly recommended for us to see as a "showcase chapter" meets at the exact time as I do?  The other group that I understand is not necessarily a core group meets at 7:30am and most people do not like the early morning.  Nevertheless, I will keep trying to locate one, even if it is out of my County.

Have you been schooled in the proper way to invite?  I have been schooled but I do not know if it is the proper way to invite.

What do you say when someone tells you 'no' or 'I don't have time' or 'I can't afford it'?  What I have been saying is quite weak.  I have said:  "Don't worry because they will not process your credit card or cash your check until we become a chapter." OR "The cost of marketing yourself in the newspaper or journals can average between $200 per week in a newspaper OR $300 to $500 per month if a journal in our area; however, the cost of BNI is $XXX for the whole year."  I made these replies up . . . don't know if they are right or wrong.

Feb 03, 2008 09:46 AM
Neal Frazier
BNI - Roanoke, VA


Set the bar high and let everyone know what you expect.  Most are not inviting on a level that will produce the desired results.  If you invite 10, 2 will tell you they will come and 1 will show up. 

Ask your members to bring in the details of everyone invited the past week: Name, Company, Address, Telephone and Response to Invitation at the very least. I think you will find that most are inviting only 2-3 per week.  Review them with the group and see if any cross connections exist.  If so, ask the other person to extend an invitation.  Ask for permission to follow-up with their invites that do not have a cross connection.

Have you seen the BNI Invitation Postcard? 

BNI Invitation 

Ask your BNI AD for some or I can send.  Mail this to the invites and follow-up with a telephone call a couple of days later.  If you can call me we can discuss the script for this call (540) 815.9079.  Today (02/04/2008) would be great.

To wrap this up:  What is the deadline to be at 15?  If you allow this effort to go on too long it will become discouraging.

Move your meeting to Wednesday or Thursday, temporarily, so you can take your visitors to the showcase chapter each week.   You can always move your meeting back to Tuesday.

BNI is 'PRICELESS'.  When we talk, we can discuss objections and turning them into objectives.

I look forward to hearing from you.




Feb 04, 2008 12:13 AM
Carol Lee
Dilbeck Real Estate - Oak Park, CA
Realtor - Agoura, Oak Park, Westlake CA Homes

I am still pretty new to Active Rain, and love reading everything that is out there.  I could spend days here on AR!

Wow!  If some one is too busy for a referral, I guess they just wouldn't get any, especially not from me!  I ALWAYS have time for a referral, that is a major part of my business!!  I guess there are always going to be sceptics.

Regarding BNI, I have attempted a few times to get into BNI gorups in my area, but of course, there are always realtors in them.  I thought about starting my own group, but just didn't have the energy, so I guess it was not meant to be for me, or at least not at the moment.

If anyone has clients in Southern California, Ventura County area, I will take good care of them, and of course, pay a referral fee.  www.CarolLee4homes.com

Neil, good luck to you with BNI and with AR!


Feb 04, 2008 04:02 AM
Neal Frazier
BNI - Roanoke, VA


It doesn't take a lot of energy to start your own BNI chapter.  It just takes having the right network to support you and your effort.  Realtors know everybody!!  You are so lucky!!! 

Take this list below and write down the names and telephone numbers of three people you know beside each business classification.

Now call them and say..."I am looking for a great (fill in the blank with their profession) that I can start a formal referral relationship with are you interested in receiving referrals on a reglar basis". 

If they say no, the sinply say, "If not you you, then who do you recommend that would like to receive referrals on a regular basis".

A lot of calls yes, but it gives you a great reason to reach out and make contact with some that you may not have been in touch with for a while, something we should all be doing.  And what a great call...Telling them you want to help them increase their business.

If you think you can you can. If you think you can't, you're right.

  • Accountant
  • Appraiser
  • Architect
  • Attorney
  • Banker
  • Carpet Cleaner
  • Caterer
  • Chiropractor
  • Contractor
  • Florist
  • Heating/AC
  • Insurance
  • Interior Design
  • Jeweler
  • Landscaper
  • Mortgage
  • Pest Control
  • Photographer
  • Pool Service
  • Printer
  • Signs

P.S. You will make more money in a chapter you start than one you join.

Feb 04, 2008 04:42 AM
Boston, MA


I was sent here by Debbie Malone.  Just wanted to say welcome to the Rain!  Be careful.... it can be addicting.

Have fun.

Feb 04, 2008 07:40 AM
Carol Lee
Dilbeck Real Estate - Oak Park, CA
Realtor - Agoura, Oak Park, Westlake CA Homes
Thanks for the info Neal.  I know I can do it- I do everything I set my mind to!  I just do not choose to at this moment, as I am focusing on other things.  Liek the internet and Active Rain!
Feb 04, 2008 08:58 AM
Nick Porter
Traditional Home Mortgage - Scottsdale, AZ
I couldn't see someone saying that and being a true professional.  I know that I deal with Police Officers and the value of my referrals are unmeasurable.
Feb 04, 2008 09:02 AM
Neal Frazier
BNI - Roanoke, VA

Hi Nick,

I do not know how familiar you are with BNI (www.bni.com), but I can guarantee you every week hundreds if not thousands of invitations are declined every week to become a part of the 23 year proven BNI process, simply because of time.  I know it is hard for most to believe.  I can only say, you'll have to trust me on this one.

Feb 04, 2008 10:01 PM
Neal Frazier
BNI - Roanoke, VA


Thanks for the shout out.  My father-in-law lived in Billerica.  I enjoyed visiting him and going into Lowell and touring the old mills. 

Feb 04, 2008 10:04 PM
Neal Frazier
BNI - Roanoke, VA


Please let me know how I can help if you want to get a chapter going.

Feb 04, 2008 10:07 PM
Carol Lee
Dilbeck Real Estate - Oak Park, CA
Realtor - Agoura, Oak Park, Westlake CA Homes

Thanks, Neal- I will put it on hold for now, as I am spending a lot of time on web stuff, and cannot focus on too many things at once!  I will keep that offer in mind for a later time!

Feb 05, 2008 02:22 AM
Kevin McLaughlin
S&P Mortgage (Alumni) - Binghamton, NY

Hey folks.  I am a new BNI member.  Unlike so many of you, I didn't even know what it was until an insurance agent I was working with invited me to join.  I'm so glad I did!  I've been to 3 meetings so far and really look forward to each meeting.  I have had 2 dance cards (the 3rd was snowed out) also.  I bring the philosophy that first let me give referrals before I expect to get them.  I think this helps people open up to refer back to you.

 For those who are starting new groups - GOOD LUCK and quick success

 As far as referrals go, I do both NY state residential loans and Nationwide commerical loans.  If you'd like to chat, just drop me a line.


Feb 05, 2008 02:47 PM
John Egan
LoFaso Real Estate Services - Brunswick, OH

I am the President of the Town Center Chapter of the BNI in Brunswick, Ohio. It has definitely been my experience that word of mouth advertising is the only way to go.

 Our group has been together 1 year as of last Tuesday and I know we've passed over $200,000 in actual closed business. BNI does work.

I know recruiting is hard considering the time committment, but once you're in the group there are so many others outside the group who are willing to sub for you if you can't attend a meeting. I have 6 months left on my term as President and am roght now in the midst of organizing our second visitors day, along with getting started with a new real estate company

Just find a group go to BNI.com and search your area, visit, and if you don't like that group there are others in the same area or start your own.



Mar 17, 2008 12:09 PM
Carey Pott
January Financial - Foothill Ranch, CA

If I met someone who didn't have enough time for my referrals, then I would almost be glad to hear it - that person has basically just admitted to me that he or she is not worthy of my referrals.

I only want to refer my valued clients to people who are willing and ready to help, and obviously not so busy that they probably wouldn't be able to return phone calls anyway.

May 29, 2008 06:31 AM
Carolina Zepeda - REALTORĀ® Houston Texas Real Estate - www.carolinazepeda.com
Champions Real Estate Group - Cypress, TX

I've heard about this organization but didn't know how it works. Thanks for sharing that! If someone is part of a network, they main purpose of joining is to get referral, so I don't think it makes sense to reject referral, that might be a good sign that one needs an assistant or buyer's agent.

May 29, 2008 08:59 AM