How To Become a Forbes Councils Member


While there’s plenty of competition from new outlets like Cheddar and Business Insider, Forbes is still one of the world’s most influential business media brands.

As a result of their annual power lists, Forbes has an enormous brand cachet.

It symbolizes success and wealth, but it’s also so much more.

It’s a community helping business leaders across various industries connect and grow. Not to mention share their hard-earned business insights with a captive audience of business professionals.

One way Forbes has embraced community-building is through Forbes Councils, which, for select leaders, offers a powerful platform for business success by providing members access to visibility, connections, and growth.

I recently spoke to Ryan Paugh, COO / Co-Founder of The Community Company and the coauthor of Superconnector.

In 2016, his company partnered with Forbes to launch Forbes Councils.

This is not a Forbes Council Review. I am not a member, so I have no first-hand experience. But it is an interview with one of its founders, which sheds light on the benefits of Forbes Council membership.

Community Matters, Now More Than Ever

In talking with Ryan, one common theme was the importance of surrounding yourself with the right group of people if you want to be successful. We discussed Malcolm Gladwell’s Outliers and how the highest achievers maneuver a finite group of exceptional people around them.

We also discussed how incredibly difficult this is to achieve in our modern-day social media era without some form of curation.

Superconnector, the book Ryan co-wrote with his business partner Scott Gerber, touches on many of the same principles.

They make a point to debunk the fallacy of “bigger is better” and dare readers to shrink the size of their inner circle. Scott even wrote a piece about this in the Harvard Business Review

That’s one of the things that The Community Company focuses on with all of its projects, including Forbes Councils.

Everything is by invitation only, and applications are vetted by several members of their internal selection committee. In most cases, you’re also going to pick up the phone and talk to a member of their team.

Share Your Insights & Expertise

When Ryan and I spoke, we discussed their company’s thesis: why thought leadership is so important. When you publish and share valuable, non-promotional content regularly, it builds credibility, which then creates more business opportunities.

Regarding thought leadership on Forbes Councils, an editorial staff works with members to develop high-quality content. Based on a comprehensive set of guidelines, member articles get published on as a Council Post. 

Because it is a paid program, you are not becoming a Forbes contributor.

Forbes Council’s editorial staff reviews all submissions, not the Forbes editorial staff.

The frequency at which a member can publish depends on a few things. First is the quality of the writing and the creativity of the content. Is it well thought out? Is it succinct? Is it exciting and credible?

Second is their content approval process, which runs on average for four to six weeks. So, even if you’re firing on all cylinders, the reviewing process slows things down.

Forbes Councils provides editorial support to help develop top-notch thought leadership content.

Though, as Ryan points out, members often overlook the time it takes because of the value they get from working with a professional editor who can help them craft their ideas into a well-written piece of work that readers enjoy.

Forbes Councils has members who publish only several times a year and keep returning because they see immense value in the opportunity. For the right person, it’s a great value.

Curated Business Connections & Growth

Forbes Councils also offers a wealth of opportunities to build your network, get mentored by industry peers, and achieve higher business results. 

One of the ways they do this is through a private, members-only app where members post business challenges and opportunities for each other, which in the crowded world of mainstream social media is a welcomed change of pace.

Forbes Councils also regularly host meet-ups for their members, which mostly happen virtually. They are focused on bringing industry-specific and geography-specific groups together for more intimate peer masterminds.

Building Visibility and Credibility

Joining the Forbes Council can also complement hiring a public relations agency because membership brings immediate credibility and authority, boosting an individual’s or organization’s reputation.

Moreover, Forbes Council membership comes with publishing consideration on, enabling PR agencies to help members articulate their thoughts and ideas in written essays and op-eds with the potential to appear on

It serves as a platform for showcasing thought leadership, which PR firms can leverage to position their clients as industry experts, thereby attracting more backers for crowdfunding campaigns.

To sum it up, the news media exposure and content creation avenues available to Forbes Council members can be harnessed by PR agencies to expand the reach of crowdfunding efforts.

What To Look For In a Business Community

CMX Summit 2019

According to Ryan, the best membership communities promote generosity and goodwill among members. The technology and the platform you use aren’t nearly as important as the tone you set as a community leader. The people are the product.

Regarding other organizations operating communities that do it right, Ryan particularly likes the Community for Community Builders or CMX, run by David Spinks, which was acquired by Bevy last year.

Also worth noting is that Ryan shares three things to look for in your search for the perfect community and some other examples of organizations doing it right.


We’re living in unpredictable economic times. Businesses of all shapes and sizes are anxious and working harder than ever to keep the lights on, but there’s still hope.

Strength in numbers, and we’re not talking Facebook-sized numbers, offers business executives and entrepreneurs the support they need to keep their businesses afloat.

The difference between success and failure may genuinely be in the power of the community. Whether it’s Forbes Councils or a similar type of investment, maybe we should all consider what communities we should lean into.

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