I had this conversation recently with a BNI member in Australia and I have had this very same conversation with members in Indiana too.
1st Member: I don’t understand the big deal over these BNI name badges. Why do I have to wear a name badge when everyone in the room knows who I am?
One of the first things that a Director looks for in a chapter is the number of members wearing their name badge. What we know is this, when the members stop wearing their BNI name badges it is a clear signal that the chapter has moved from running a quality business meeting with strong business professionals to being a casual social club full of friends.
The chapter has few visitors and they are not really concerned about the visitors or strangers in the room. Last week I walked into a chapter that I have never attended, located in a part of Australia that I have never been to. I signed in as a guest and walked around introducing myself. Few people bothered to greet me and repeatedly I had to ask if they were members or visitors because they did not have BNI Badges.
Wearing your name badge shows that you are a professional business group, it is a privilege to be a member and only members have the badge. The message to the visitor when the entire group is wearing their name badge is “we take our businesses meeting seriously.”
Businesses do not join BNI to be a member of a club, they join BNI to grow their businesses and build their network.
2nd Member: I have a company name badge and don’t know why I can’t just wear that instead of the BNI badges?
I find this one a bit humorous. If your company has spent money and time to develop name badges for every person in the company, what message would you send to your employer and fellow employees but choose to wear a completely different name badge? In fact what is the point of even having a business name badge? How would your employer feel if you chose to wear a different name badge because you liked it better?
This is a person who has given no thought to who is in the room. If a visitor or guest comes into the room and your name badge is not BNI branded then the visitor is left with the impression that you are not a member of the group. If most of the members are all wearing a different name badge then the visitor gets the vision of a disorganized group of people. Your name badge builds your visibility and credibility to the visitor.
Your name badge says that you belong with the group and you have been vetted as a valued and trusted member of the chapter.
Further, the name badge gives visual continuity to the group membership. A visitor can see the organization and professionalism of the chapter. Founder Ivan Misner always says that “the devil is in the details” and the badge is a small but significant detail for the chapter leadership teams to pay attention to.
The next time you walk into your BNI meeting, wear your BNI badge with pride and confidence. You now know that it symbolizes professionalism, unity and trust—and who wouldn’t want that?