Home » How can you use networking in BNI to develop relationships that reduce Benign Neglect?

How can you use networking in BNI to develop relationships that reduce Benign Neglect?

by Richard Foulkes


Cast your minds back to your school days. You had your besties, who were your friends for life. Since then, you’ve worked in different businesses, moved suburbs, towns, and maybe even countries? In each of these settings, did you have other people who were “besties” who you thought you would be close to forever?
How many of those “besties” are still part of your daily life? Is it true that many of them have drifted away, not by design but by accident? It happens because we are no longer with them daily and other people come in to fill the space they leave. Yes, if we caught up with them it would be like we were never apart but the reality is, they aren’t an active part of our life anymore.

This is called Benign Neglect.

Dr Ivan Misner, Founder of BNI discusses it on his Webpage  https://ivanmisner.com/mastering-the-art-of-benign-neglect/#:~:text=Benign%20neglect%20takes%20many%20forms,little%20bit%20closer%20to%20you and he describes Benign Neglect as “taking many forms. It’s any decision you deliberately or unconsciously make that allows a person in your sphere (or an activity associated with that person) to move towards the back, which in turn allows someone else to step a little bit closer to you.
In BNI, this is why we meet weekly, and we encourage one-to-ones and other activities that get us together regularly. It is just enough, without them needing to be our besties, to keep our fellow members in our life so that they are in our minds and the friendships grow and business flows.

Preventing Benign Neglect

In BNI it’s easy to prevent Benign Neglect by showing up weekly and doing the other activities that keep us close. The other key point is, members can leave BNI thinking the relationships they have built will endure after they leave. Generally, they don’t. Over time Benign Neglect will creep in and the referrals and friendships wane.
In life generally (and with clients), if there is a relationship you want to keep but regular contact stops because of distance or a new job then deliberate action has to be taken to keep the relationship strong.

For instance, Richard Foulkes, BNI Director Consultant in Auckland tries to ring one (different) friend a day that he no longer sees regularly.


Benign Neglect is a simple concept but it explains why some “Besties” come from proximity and frequency of contact and when they drop the relationship weakens. What can you do today (and tomorrow) do to stop it unconsciously happening in your life?

You may also like