Business Network International (BNI) is an organization which is "the world's largest referral organization" with over 185,000 members worldwide. BNI is in over 60 countries worldwide. BNI was founded in 1985 by Dr. Ivan Misner "for the primary purpose of building powerful referral networks".
BNI draws a distinction between a "referral" and a "lead." A lead is contact information for a prospect for a member's business, while a referral occurs only when the prospect has already expressed interest in the business in question, and is ready to be contacted by the referred BNI member.