September 16, 2013
5 Organizations Every CEO Should Consider Joining

It’s lonely at the top. Even with my wife as my business partner, and an amazing Advisory Board, my entrepreneurial journey has been at times a scary one.

Three-and-a-half years ago, I joined an organization which changed my life for the better — Entrepreneurs Organization (EO). I joined it to help grow my growing business, not knowing that I would meet my closest friends there and focus on personal growth and family growth as much as any business issues. I have no doubt that the formula works, though. Three years after joining EO, I am a better CEO, leader, father, husband and person.

Here is information about five organizations that every CEO should take a look at:

Business Networking International (BNI)

BNI is a great organization for the solo entrepreneur (solopreneur). Focused on lead-sharing and networking, I joined BNI after my wife and I started our first company six years ago. I met a great group of men and women, including solopreneurs and salespeople, who met weekly over breakfast and really cared about helping each other grow their sales.

After a year or so, as we began to focus more on national clients, I left the organization. But five years later, I still maintain some of the friendships I got from the organization. Even if you run a larger organization, consider BNI for your local salespeople.

Recommended for: Solopreneurs & Your Local Salespeople

Young Entrepreneurs Council (YEC)

I joined YEC just at the tail end of my qualifying as “young” — age 35 — but recently they upped the age requirement to 40. (Woohoo, I’m still young!) If you’re age 40 or younger and a founder of a company doing $1 million a year or more in revenues, this organization is for you.

I’ve found the number one asset of YEC to be online PR and marketing — there is also lots of networking and information-sharing through its exclusive Facebook group and LinkedIn group. Especially if you’re a young CEO in technology or a communications, this is a great group to join.

Recommended for: 40 and Under Founders/CEOs

Entrepreneurs’ Organization (EO)

I mentioned my love affair with EO at the start of this post. The truth is, if I had to choose just one of the five, it would be EO. For founder/CEO’s of fast-growing companies doing at least $1 million/year in revenues or having received $2 million in venture funding, EO includes great speakers, events and networking.

But the lynchpin of EO is the Forum experience: Each month I get together with eight close peers and we all confidentially share our business, personal and family concerns. One member each month, with the help of a peer coach, does a deep dive “presentation” on an area of concern.

If you’re not doing $1M in revenues yet but you’re doing $250,000, you may also qualify for EO’s Accelerator program.

Recommended for: Founders/CEOs of $1M+ Businesses

Young President’s Organization (YPO)

YPO is very similar to EO — the two key differences are that the revenue requirements for YPO are higher (depending on your type of business) and you don’t need to be a founder of the company, simply its’ current leader.

While I’m not in YPO yet, I’ve spoken for YPO Forums and met several great friends who are in YPO. And given its similarity to EO in terms of Forums and amazing events, I can whole-heartedly recommend YPO for those who qualify.

Recommended for: CEOs of companies with annual revenues over $12M


The only non-acronym here. I’ve only attended one meeting of Vistage, but I do know many CEOs who belong. It’s similar to YPO and EO in that all members participate in monthly Forum meetings with peers, except in Vistage, they’re joined by a paid coach/moderator who also does 1-1 business coaching with each member.

Also, with Vistage, the focus is strictly on business, versus EO and YPO which take a more holistic approach.

Recommended for: CEOs who want to focus on business and receive coaching

These five organizations will not only make it less lonely for you as a CEO and/or entrepreneur, they’ll help better prepare you for the challenges that lie ahead in a fun and social setting.

What professional organizations do you belong to as a CEO?

Dave Kerpen
Dave Kerpen is the Founder & CEO of Likeable Local and the New York Times bestselling author of two books, Likeable Social Media and Likeable Business. If you like this post, please do share it, and look for more great posts from Dave here on

Other Articles by Dave Kerpen:

The Most Essential Social Network For CEOs

The Secret To Getting People To Adore You

6 Stages Of Mobile Shopping Every CEO Should Know

17 Things The Boss Should Never Say

6 Reasons Companies Fail At Content Marketing

9 Leadership Lessons From America’s Pastime

11 Easy Ways To Become A Better Leader

7 Reasons To Become A Social CEO Now

Leadership Lessons From The World's Religions

How To Stay Totally Focused On What Matters Most

  • Sherry Lynn Garrett

    Zero professional organizations to date although i will pass this valuable information to CEO friends.

  • Casey Woodson

    I’d also suggest you include Chief Executive Network (CEN) on your list. CEN is unique because it connects CEOs with peers who are in their industry (but not direct competitors) and run comparably sized companies, so a mid-market manufacturing CEO running a $100 million company will be with other manufacturing CEOs in the same size range. This allows sharing of best practices and proven ideas and increases the take-home value from every meeting.

    CEN has CEO groups for manufacturing, wholesale/distribution, Tech (e.g., software), professional services, construction, engineering and several other industries.

    More information is available on their website:

  • SFMH57

    BNI is a good portal for many who want and need to learn about networking, perfecting their elevator speech, giving effective presentations, and stepping up their game as a solopreneur.

    That said, after about a year, many find that it is no longer of great benefit as a regular *discipline,* which is what I think constitutes a lot of its value. However, the relationships made there can – and should – be nurtured for the rest of your life and most members are willing and ready to do that. It is expensive and members MUST attend a weekly meeting “at home” or “on the road” every single week, much like Rotary. Also, like the original Rotary, there is supposed to be only one rep of each business or sector in the group, although that is often modified.

    Be aware, too, that the composition of your chapter will make a difference. On paper, it shouldn’t, but if you are offering white-collar services and the rest of the members are blue-collar tradesmen, you may not get or be able to give the number of referrals you hoped for or, as is explicit and implicit, the number you are *supposed* to. If true, look for another chapter if you want to continue.

  • Polly Venning

    Sorry but I have to tell you about CEO Tasmania here in Australia. we ask people to imagine they are the leader of an organization where everyone expects them to have all of the answers all of the time.
    Where do they go to bounce ideas around? Who do they speak to about your business issues and problems? Where do they go to just connect with like-minded people?

    Then imagine there is a place where you can come together with peers who understand what you are going through. A place to discuss issues that literally keep you awake at night. A safe, highly confidential non-competing environment.
    There is a place… CEO Tasmania, it used to be lonely at the top.
    Why choose CEO Tasmania – because you know us and you trust us

  • Christina Halasz

    You’re young the same way we have no problem with US dollar inflation…