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Build Relationships Through One-to-One Meetings

The first principal of earning trust in BNI (and arguably, anywhere) is to build relationships with others, because one cannot form a trusting relationship with someone with whom they have no relationship.

There is no chicken and egg debate in this scenario. The one must clearly come before the other. Your fellow BNI members need to know who you are, and the tool of membership that most lends itself to this end is the One-to-One meeting. And remember, If you do not do one to ones, you will fail.

Honor Commitments

BNI members expect each other to be dependable and reliable. Whether you have committed to following up on a referral source, calling a contact to make a connection for another member, or to meet for a one-to-one at a certain time and place – it is important that we honor these commitments to the absolute best of our ability. Flaking on one-to-one meetings or “meaning to call that guy” for weeks on end, will not lend to your credibility and trust.

Be of Service to Others 

One of the most visible ways to perform this function in BNI is to take a service commitment within the Chapter. Effective leadership is highly valued in our chapters, and stepping up to the plate at the start of a new term is an excellent way to further demonstrate reliability and dependability. If you are unable to fill a position such as Chapter President, Membership Committee Member or Mentor Coordinator etc, offer other forms of support to your fellow members. You can share announcements of community and networking events. You can offer specialized industry advice and information to your fellow members, organize Power Team Get-Togethers, and of course....

Give Quality Referrals

There are few quicker paths to the reputation toilet bowl than the habit of giving poor referrals. Conversely, giving great referrals will let your fellow members know you are keeping them top of mind. One of the most effective ways to give a referral is to call your fellow member immediately - and if all possible, while the referral is standing in the room. Another great method is to pull out your contact list while on a one-to-one and call them during the meeting. Show the willingness to connect your members to people they need and your referral relationships will bloom. 

Tell Stories

Use one-to-ones and your commercials to tell stories. Don’t just tell us that you can solve X problem. Tell us about someone whose problem you solved. Did you save a client $1,000? Don’t say “I can save pizza shop owners $1,000” Tell us how you saved Joe’s Pizza Shop $1,000 last week and how you can do the same for a referral.

No one wants to go to a picnic and say "So by the way, I know an insurance guy and he saves people money..." It's much more interesting when the member can share, "Hey! Did you know that if you have a business and store your equipment in a shed on your property that it's not covered by homeowners insurance? This guy Steve had thousands of dollars of equipment in his shed and basically his entire business completely at risk. He had no idea he wasn't protected until my friend Joe from Super-Duper Insurance Co. reviewed his policies and got him protected..." 

When we equip our members with our success stories, it makes it easy for those members to talk about what we can do for others.


There are a million and one ways to demonstrate integrity and build trust in BNI. What are some ways you’ve seen that work? Tell us in the comments!