Frequently Asked Questions
Q - What is the purpose of your Athens Business Networking International Group (BNI), aka "Athens Referral Factory"?
A - We are a group of businesses in the Athens, Georgia area who meet weekly to help one another grow our businesses through referrals and networking.
Q - Who can visit the Athens Referral Factroy?
A - Only one person from each BNI classification can join a chapter of BNI. Each Member can only hold one BNI classification in a BNI Chapter. So if you do not see a company representing your category in our member directory, you are welcome to apply! We have a screening and interview process that each prospective member must go through before approval. This process ensures that we have the best group possible! If you have questions, use our Contact page, reach out to the membership committee or anyone on our leadership team.
Q - Who can join the Athens Referral Factory?
A - We only allow one member per business category. So if you do not see a company representing your category in our member directory, you are welcome to apply! We have a screening and interview process that each prospective member must go through before approval. This process ensures that we have the best group possible! If you have questions, please contact Keenan Nottingham, head of our membership committee or anyone on our leadership team.
Q - What are the benefits of joining the Athens Referral Factory?
A - Each person in our group is encouraged to get to know you and your business when you join. We do this each week during general networking and also throughout the week by having one on one meetings with one another. You will be encouraged to get to know all the existing members, as well. The more we know and trust each other, the more business we can refer to each other. We believe in "givers gain" - the more you give, the more you receive.
Q - What are the costs of joining the Athens Referral Factory?
A - Business networking requires commitment. One element of this commitment is the financial investment to join BNI. The investment to join BNI consists of an application fee and an annual participation fee. As of January 2023, the first-year investment (1-year membership) is $895, or the first-year investment (2-year membership) of $1,340 ($200 savings). The membership annual renewal fee is $645 for a one-year membership. Upon acceptance to BNI, fees are non-refundable without exception. A Certificate of Credit (CoC) will be issued for your remaining membership time. The chapter also charges a quarterly fee for space and events. These charges are separate and in addition to the investment to join BNI. Once you have applied, we encourage you to attend chapter meetings consistently until the membership committee has approved or rejected your application. Doing so will help you build relationships and show the chapter your level of commitment to a BNI membership! If the Membership Committee accepts your application to become a member, you will receive an email with a link to make your membership payment online.
Q - Do I have to pay the full membership fee before joining.
A - Yes. We do not have a payment plan option. But we do accept credit cards. Please talk to someone on the membership committee if you have questions regarding payment.
Q - Why do you meet weekly? Do I have to attend every week?
A - We meet weekly because we are serious about growing our businesses and supporting one another. Meeting each week shows committment. You are allowed to miss 3 meetings in a 6 months period, but after that your classification may be opened back up. We encourage the use of substitutes (someone to fill in for you during your absence) when you must miss a meeting. If you send a substitute, the absence is not counted against you.
Q - I see my category is taken in this group, is there any other BNI groups in our area?
A - Yes, there are currently several other BNI groups that meet in our area. It's possible one of them will have a vacancy for your classification. Please feel free to ask anyone on our leadership team for information on the other area meetings.
Q - How can I get the most out of my membership after I join?
A - Our group works hard to integrate you and feel at home quickly. You will meet with someone on our membership committee immediately before or after joining. They will cover all the basics about being an active/productive member of our group. You will attend a BNI training class soon after joining to help you learn how to get the most out of your investment. Plus, you will be paired with our mentor coordinator, so you have someone to go to with questions during your first few months. We want your experience with our group to be enjoyable and profitable! One of the core learnings every member needs is our Member Success Programme (MSP) training. Think of this as BNI Basic training, designed to get the new member up to speed quickly so that they get the most out of their membership and become an influential team member of the chapter. We encourage you to complete this training within the first 30 days of your membership.