By Joani Durandette, Social Media Coordinator, BNI Headquarters (pictured above)
BNI®—it’s a name we use all the time. It’s a name our immediate families know, a name we readily share with others, and a name we use for trusted referrals.
But what IS BNI?
Recently, our staff at BNI Headquarters posted a poll asking our facebook fans what “BNI” stands for. The results were staggering. Of those that responded, only half answered correctly.
How is that possible, you ask? Perhaps it’s because the two answers to choose from were:Business Networking International and Business Network International. They’re pretty much the same thing, right? Wrong.
Networking is the action. It’s what we do. Whether it’s giving referrals, testimonials, or participating in one-to-ones, we are Networking.
Network is the sum of the whole. It’s who we are. We are the Network.
So, let’s revisit the question we asked BNI’s facebook fans—what does BNI® stand for? The correct answer is: BNI stands for Business Network International and our trademarked name is BNI® (Business Network International).
When Dr. Ivan Misner founded the company in 1985, BNI had a different name. It was originally called “The Network.” It was an easily-remembered, descriptive name that made sense. In 1991, the company’s name changed to “Business Network International” and, not long afterward, for simplicity and trademark purposes, the acronym “BNI” became the trademarked name of the organization.
Perhaps one could argue that a simple, little “ing” at the end of a word really doesn’t make much difference—that no one will notice either way whether the “N” in “BNI” is defined by some correctly as representing the word “Network” or by others incorrectly as representing “Networking.” However, that little “ing” may keep you (or potential visitors and members) from finding company information in an internet search. Many chapters have their own web pages. Unfortunately, many of these pages are proudly displaying the wrong name –Business Networking International.” Consider this: If someone Googles “BNI: Business Network International”, those aforementioned chapters won’t show up, and their SEO (Search Engine Optimization) goes down.
Another point to contemplate: When we have various chapters using the incorrect “networking” name, they are inadvertently diluting our brand. We all know Starbucks®, Disney® and McDonald's®. What if some of those franchisees incorrectly named their stores, referring to themselves as “Starbucklers,” “Dizney” and “Mick-Donalds”? You guessed it: they’d lose business, internet hits and credibility.
By working together on using only the correct name for our organization, we are strengthening the company and all it stands for. BNI® (Business Network International) is the name that defines who we are, as a living, breathing organization; an organization founded on and united by the Givers Gain® philosophy with the purpose of helping thousands of businesspeople across the globe achieve growth and success through a structured referral system.
Now that you know what BNI® stands for and you are well aware of what a difference an “ing” makes, here’s a question for you: What does your own BNI chapter call itself? Check your chapter’s website, facebook and twitter pages . . . you just may be surprised! See below for tips on being “ing” free.
· BNI® (Business Network International)
INCORRECT—DO NOT USE:
· Business Networking International
· BNI (Business Networking International)
· Business Network International (BNI)
· Business Network Int’l