Gain professional credibility if you invest writing energy.
I joined the Forbes Business Development Council in 2019, and I have published a handful of articles there. I often get asked by people who are considering joining if it’s worth it. As with most things in life, it depends.
The council is an invite-only club where you can network, publish articles, and get discounts in a marketplace. The main attraction is the articles. In the best case, you can post something new about every five weeks. They provide two rounds of editing and help hone the material.
You might think it’s like becoming a magazine contributor, but it’s more like a blogging platform with a household name on it. I find it valuable. Your experience may be different, and you have to decide for yourself.
Let me share my experience in hopes that you’ll be better informed.
The process is relatively straightforward. As with all writing, the hardest part is figuring out a solid idea. Forbes has strict guidelines about what you can write and the structure of the article. For example, 500–1000 word length. You also can’t self promote, and there are some other content restrictions.
The editors are generally beneficial, and I’ve gotten good feedback from them. The process is slow intentionally as they want to limit your publishing frequency.
Networking & Discounts
To be honest, I haven’t used these. I am sure some people like it, but it wasn’t why I joined. I have connected with a few other council members because we generally get tagged together in social media posts, but no real business or great friendship has emerged from it.
The discounts tend to be for small business owners. But you would have to use a lot of them to make up for the membership fees.
You have to pay membership dues to be part of the club. I covered my fees personally rather than asking an employer to pay it even though I probably could have. I felt that it was more about my professional brand, and you can’t write about your company offerings anyway.
While I think you could deride this as a “pay for play” kind of scheme, there are real costs associated with running the council (like editors), and it is not a journalistic endeavor. I also think the fee helps them keep a high bar for membership.
You have to publish new content to Forbes, but after 30 days, you can republish it in other places. It’s effortless to import it into Medium, for example.
Monthly Expert Panels
You may have seen the listicles that the biz dev council publishes. Each month they send out five questions to the council, and they pick their favorite. I’ve found this to be very valuable as it doesn’t take too long and usually gets good publicity. Since there are 10–15 other members they typically promote it, and you can go along for the ride. When you’re writing your answer, you can see what others have written, which helps you say something unique.
Conclusion: Gain credibility — if you use it!
I have to say that people are generally impressed by the Forbes name. Having a few articles posted and including Forbes on your LinkedIn profile gets a bit of attention.
I set a goal to write something every month for the council, and I have not kept up with that goal. As of this writing, I have published five articles over about nine months. I’ve had my answers included in numerous expert panel articles. They also interviewed me about my experience on the panel.
My advice if you are considering joining is to be realistic about your willingness to spend time writing articles. If this is new for you, I suggest getting started on a free platform first. Second, understand that the impact of joining goes only so far. Once you get past the Forbes name, it’s really up to you to be a professional worth your audience’s attention. Forbes might get a boost, but being a council member won’t suddenly start making it rain.
I hope this helps you in deciding whether to join. Feel free to drop me a line if you want to discuss it further, or you just want to say “hi.”