Without a doubt, BNI is the most recognizable and most popular referral organization in the networking world. With over 200,000 members and chapters throughout the globe, BNI has proved to the world that their take on networking works. In fact, BNI introduced the concept of having one seat per profession in each group, since it does not make any sense for a business professional to pay a fee for a shared seat.
Other networking groups such as Team and LeTip have attempted for decades to take market share for BNI, but to no avail. So is there truly only one option when considering joining a referral group? Is there no one better? Perhaps there is. Merely a few miles from where BNI was born is a new player in the networking world: MNO.
Launched merely 3 years ago in 2019, MNO has been posting on various social media groups and platforms that they are better than BNI. But does this bold statement bare any weight? And who is MNO?
Before we get to what MNO stands for and how it started, we wanted to highlight 3 ways MNO is better than BNI:
1. The App
Technology has become the main driver for innovation for almost every industry, and the networking world is no exception. Noting how quickly the world is changing, the evolution of the way business is done is assuredly headed into the virtual realm. Businesses are starting to operate less frequently in person and are taking transactions electronically and appointments via platforms like Zoom and Google Meet.
MNO has taken the first step in launching a revolutionary proprietary app that allows its members to share each others business links on social media with just a couple of clicks. The result of members collectively sharing each others links is organic traffic, which of course leads to new business without the need for costly advertising.
There are countless stories of members receiving inquiries for their businesses in response to social media posts about their products or services. Most recently, a financial advisor from one of their Southern California chapters, scheduled an appointment for a family seeking a college savings plan. They had seen a post on a Facebook group where a particular post about 529 plans on his business page was shared. All it took was a member from the financial advisor’s chapter to share his link using the MNO Member App.
Not only is the app a link-sharing tool, but it’s also a logging mechanism that keeps track of the shares members do for each other. Additionally, the app sends a notification to the member letting them know that that particular member shared their link.
BNI does not offer this feature in their app and they don’t consider the sharing of links as a networking activity.
If you’ve ever been in a networking group, you know that visitors bring new life to the weekly meetings as these new visits bring new opportunities for each member as well as the visitors. On the flip side, having a weekly meeting with no visitors almost always creates a very discomforting air. This is mostly due to the fact that the meetings are conducted with the assumption that visitors will be in attendance. Another reason is because it’s a missed opportunity for the members to find new connections through whom they can grow their business.
To address this, MNO allocates part of its membership fees towards their inviting department to ensure that new visitors attend these weekly meetings. MNO staff is on social media every week promoting their networking zooms to give new and existing businesses an opportunity to promote their business and make new connections.
In fact, they invented the Post and Promo method, which serves as an effective way to find these entrepreneurs. Social media is filled with businesses looking for a way to meet other local business owners, and these weekly zooms offer visitors a one-time opportunity to meet them. Membership is offered to visitors whose seats are available, but the main purpose for their visit is to be introduced to the members in hopes opportunities arise.
BNI does not have an inviting department, and instead puts a major focus on encouraging its own members to do all of the inviting. Indeed, the members benefit as the group grows in membership, but this prioritized focus on inviting detracts from the members’ efforts to pass referrals to each other.
3. Membership terms
MNO realizes that with the national and global economy receding, cash flow is extremely critical for an entrepreneur. This is why membership is monthly and not annual. Another reason for the monthly membership is that it acts as a motivational force for MNO to continually provide value for its members. This is done by offering free trainings on how to become a better networker, providing new visitors every week, and to continuing to add unique features to the already-revolutionary MNO Member App.
If you’re in a referral group, you may also have experienced member fatigue where a member “checks out” and stops providing value for their fellow members. They still attend the meetings and maybe schedule a meeting or two a month with members, but the passion and drive to pass referrals is gone. Monthly memberships allow members to step down when it’s time without losing out on unused months.
BNI memberships are annual and they take full payment up front with no refunds for members who wish to step down. This creates scenarios such as members who are already paid up stick around in hopes of receiving business but have lost the desire and passion to pass business to the members.
These are just three of ways that MNO is promoting that they’re better than BNI. But there are many more; in fact MNO has created a comparison chart to highlight the others which you’ll find below.
A little about MNO
MNO is a networking organization based out of Tustin, CA and were launched in 2019 by ex-BNI director Emo Alaeddin. In addition to being a business owner and professional networker, Emo is a prolific musician and produces his own original music under his last name Alaeddin. He came up with the concept of the app when he released his latest album and could not get a single member of his BNI group to attend a show or share his album on social media. Except for one: the life insurance agent of the group, whom we’ll get to in just a bit.
Before the app was developed, Emo put together his first group (mostly of musicians) to come together and share each others links on social media and log them on an excel sheet. When the first group was successfully formed, Emo stepped down from BNI as a director and a member to focus on what he named Music Network One, or MNO. In celebration of the launch of the first group which he called The Founders MNO, Emo invited his friend, the life insurance agent of his former BNI chapter, Melissa Levin to attend.
During that one meeting, two of the musicians who attended sent her referrals and she was able to promote and support both musicians in return. Despite her being a business professional, she submitted her application for membership at the close of the MNO meeting that she attended. Melissa saw MNO more than just a group for musicians, but something bigger. Something for all.
MNO allows only one seat per profession, but it allows multiple musicians to join since they don’t need the exclusivity to secure posts and shares by their fellow members. This unique two-tier system allows MNO chapters to potentially grow to sizes much larger than BNI that does not have a shared tier for musicians.
The false narrative has always been that MNO is just for musicians. But with one visit, you will find that MNO is truly for all. What brings these different industries together is their collective desire to help each other grow and find new opportunities.
So is anyone better than BNI? Is MNO better than BNI? Only one person can decide: you.
Music Network One, Inc or MNO is currently run and operated by Emo and Melissa, who married in March of 2022.