If Membership is a Privilege, Why Are You Giving It Away?

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If Membership is a Privilege, Why Are You Giving It Away?

I was once a member of the Indianapolis Columbia Club, it is a beautiful old building with fine dining, guest rooms, private events, discount, private networking activities, wine and beer tastings, golf club access and membership in other clubs around the world.  It is all considered the privilege of membership—not open to members of the public unless they are accompanied by a member.

So, why do we not treat BNI the same way? Why are members so willing to give away the privileges of membership? Let’s take a look at what are the privileges of your BNI Membership.

  1. The Privilege of being able to stand each week and ask for referrals, or any other request that you might have. As a member of BNI you spend time learning how to do your weekly presentation. Asking for referrals is a privilege of membership in your chapter!

Chapters are quick to give this away not only to strangers in the room but to substitutes who are there to represent another member and not their own business. Asking for referrals from your network of members is the privilege of membership in your chapter.


  1. The Privilege of a weekly showcase to spend time teaching your network how to support you and your business by identifying referrals for you.

Now and then I see this given away to outside speakers and we often get calls from politicians or fundraisers who want to be given the time to speak to the room about their cause or position. This is one of the most important privileges that members have, it is the time that a member educates the entire network on how to identify referrals on their behalf. It should never be given to someone who has invested nothing into your chapter.


  1. Receiving referrals, this is a big one, as a member you spend time and money for this ability. Time building relationships based on trust, time on education such as member success training and advance member training.

Members are way too quick to give this one away for free. I cannot tell you how many times that I have been sitting in a BNI Meeting and watched members hand business to people who are not members of their chapter. This is the most valuable member benefit you have.

During the meeting the President should always invite the visitors to do business with the members of the chapter if they wish, and remind them that receiving referrals is a privilege of membership and once they become members they will begin to receive referrals as well.

People want to belong to things that are exclusive, they want to belong to something special. BNI Chapter members would be wise to remember that it is a privilege to be accepted into your chapter. It is also privilege for visitors and guest to get the opportunity to meet your network and to be able to add them to their network.

When I invited to people to come to the Columbia Club as my guest they were excited to attend and often were so impressed that they would inquire about becoming a member.  Don’t just give away your member privileges. Treat your membership in your chapter as a privilege and when you invite others to come to visit your chapter treat that as a privilege as well.


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.

  1. Hazel, Wow, great article. Personally I have to confess that its a matter of inner confidence which then reflects on posture and so on. Also find it can be a mind teaser on the “Give is Gain”, which comes from not really knowing what you know.

  2. Amazing article. You are a Master of Words. I look forward to sharing this with our members.

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