I go to the BNI in Carmel, Indiana called “Network Masters”. It’s a referral group where only one person from each professional specialty is allowed. This means that there can’t be two web designers in a group, for example. They call it “exclusivity” and it helps you to be “the guy” for your particular industry or specialty.
BNI is also strict on attendance, meaning that you have to either attend every meeting or find a substitute. You’re only allowed a limited amount of absences per year, but this can be a good thing because you know people are actually going to be there to hear what you have to say. The point is to learn about each other’s businesses so you can be a good referral partner when you’re out working in your field.
Rainmakers is different than BNI in that its events aren’t required, but its “power circle” meetings are. The power circle meetings act more like BNI meetings because their seats are exclusive, meaning you can have only one type of profession in each meeting. The difference in power circles to BNI is that power circles are supposed to be made up of service professionals who naturally refer to each other, making the group potentially more effective than a general BNI group.
Anyone can invite visitors to a BNI meeting or a Rainmakers event, but visitors can only attend twice before having to sign up as a member. BNI and Rainmakers are comparable in price per year and both have their advantages. If you’re interested in attending one, but don’t want to go alone, contact me and we’ll see if we can go to an event together.