Early Credibility and New Members

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Early Credibility and New Members

If you are a new BNI member don’t expect referrals right away you have to build credibility!

Too often there is an expectation from new BNI Members that they are going to be accepted into a BNI Chapter and as soon as they are in the chapter they will instantly begin to get referrals.  Unfortunately, it just does not happen that way!

There is a process of getting to know one another that every member of your BNI network needs to go through. It starts with visibility, when people remember who you are, but know very little about you or your business. When you show up at your BNI meeting each week you become more and more visible to your fellow members, as time goes on you begin to enter the early phase of credibility.

Credibility is when the network begins to build trust with you. As you show up each week and become demonstrably dependable, trust begins to build. Everything you do inside the weekly meeting and outside the meeting is either building or destroying your credibility.

In most business relationships, the early phase of credibility is where the relationship is often damaged and even destroyed. For instance, I recently passed a referral to a handyman, told him what I needed and when I needed it. There was no follow up, no call, no message and the work did not get done. This person’s credibility is damaged with me, this was a Tier One transactional referral, the opportunity to build credibility and instead of building it in a positive direction it is damaged.

There are two stages of credibility; today I’ll tell you about the early or lite credibility phase. This is the time when we are just beginning to trust each other. It is often the testing phase of the relationship. Much like the early dating phase of a relationship. It is easy to destroy the relationship here and I watch BNI members do it day in and day out. They then wonder why they are not getting referrals.

When you are in that early phase, any little thing can damage and even destroy your credibility. If you cannot get past the first phase of credibility you will never make it to the second phase, the deeper level of credibility.

During the early phase, you will get transactional referrals and leads, this leads to the second part of early credibility, called the testing phase. Your BNI members want to learn how you do business, how you follow up, how well you do your work, and if you show up on time. They will be watching how you treat their referrals and how you behave at chapter meetings. As you continue to do what you say, show up, be on time and participate, you will gain higher levels of credibility.

Remember: Anyone can buy a seat at the table, but you have to earn the trust and credibility of the people around the table. As a new BNI member, what are you doing that builds your early credibility?  In my next article I will discuss strong credibility and how to build it with your network.

Keep it Simple,


There are few women better at building a global network than Hazel Walker . Renowned for her straight talk and no-holds-barred approach, Hazel is a globally sought after speaker.

This Walker This Way video discusses ideas on Givers Gain.

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