Thinking of joining Business Networking groups?
If you are brave enough to look beyond “why bother business networking” you probably then think “why bother joining business networking groups?”
For us – there are 4 modes of networking groups.
- Pay as you go – or Free as you go
- Membership based – with strict codes of conduct for referrals and attendance and “lock out” on categories
- Membership based, with lock out on categories, financial reward for referrals
- Membership based, diversity of choice, ethos to help, learn, and hard sell is banned.
So this blog post is our take on the considerations to undertake when deciding what business networking group is best suited to you.
Which style of business networking groups are best suited to you?
1.Pay as you go/ Free as you go Business networking groups
The business network events run as pay as you go/free as you go groups are like putting your hand into a black bag to draw out a winning ticket at a raffle. The business networking groups meet morning, evenings, and sometimes at lunch.
Who you meet at these free flowing events is really is down to the luck of the draw. Different people may – or may not attend every different event. Success (however you measure success at Business networking events) is down to
- who is in the room at that business networking group gathering
- how many are attending – and how the sector/category mix is managed – or not!
- who you happen to chat to
- how well you are able to circulate
- what the structure of the business networking event is
If you want to go into networking and leave things to chance this could work for you. However – if you are and accountant – do you want to go to events where there are 6 other accountants? If you are a charity – do you want to experience the “eye roll”? If you just setting out attending business networking groups do you want just a bit more structure and support?
Its up to you – if you like to take high risks, and use lots of time attending lots of different groups – collecting cards but never building relationships – then this will be fine for you. However – many business owners we meet like to have a little more structure and certainty from the business networking groups they are part of and want to build a productive positive community of people they connect with regularly – so what do they do?
2. Membership based – strict weekly meetings and lock out
Business Networking groups that meet every week, or every 2 weeks, with strict codes of conduct and high expectations for attendance, referrals and the introduction of new people are really popular for people new to networking. They provide a good base line to fine tune your Business Networking “spiel” you get comfortable with a fixed group of people, and you learn the discipline of what it is to Network “that way”.
They, like our business networking groups, also encourage the building of long term relationships. Many people are avid fans of this approach – but so often I hear that whilst it works for some “trades” and sectors this style of business networking groups can be very limiting, time consuming and makes people think they are working for the Business networking group MORE than they are working for themselves.
In addition – after 1-2 maybe 3 years of dark early mornings week in week out – people do look to “graduate” from that intensity of networking. So that’s where other business networking groups step in.
Even if you are an early worm – trying alternative business networking groups can be of benefit – as they attract larger businesses, and a diversity of attendee that is hard to do within a lock out weekly business networking group.
3. Membership based, business networking groups , Lock out – with financial pay off for referrals.
There is a rise in the start up of groups that are wanting to reward people for referrals through financial levers.
With lock out for categories also in mind, and meetings monthly this may suit you. BUT I strongly believe business networking groups based on individual financial reward will bring into question the authenticity and quality of such referrals. A recent online straw poll suggests to me that 95% of business owners agree – that there is a question around how successful and sustainable such a model is for such business networking groups.
When successful businesses are working hard to have uber clean images – it seems a retrograde step to be receiving the old school style “bung” for work passed to someone else.
These business networking groups are run in the main by people who do so as a side hustle – so what are you really joining for? The promise of business on a plate for you – where by the referrer then gets a kick back – or the feeling of pressure to refer to people you don’t really know like and trust? Any referral of another business to another has to be done so with conviction that the referral is quality and that your reputation will not be hampered or discredited by a job poorly done – just for the possibility of financial reward. Proceed with caution!
4. Membership based, diversity of choice, ethos to help, learn, and hard sell is banned.
So – yes membership of business networking groups can bring massive benefits, Why? Well with our business networking groups in The Business Network, we have dedicated hosts that spend their time working for their members. This is no side hustle – these are people dedicated to getting to know their members, so that they can connect them at business networking events with people that share common values, may be great collaborators, or where there is a genuine buyer:seller opportunity.
Diversity of choice is also something we believe in – in business networking groups where they operate a “lock out” policy with only 1 representative per category – this can be powerful IF you know like and trust that person. BUT what if you don’t?
That’s why within our business networking groups will allow up to 5% of the membership to be represented per category – giving choice and diversity and yet still lots of opportunities for Business.
In addition – with NO PRESSURE to always bring referrals, always turn up, its a realistic and natural way to network. Finally and critically – with a strong ethos for learning, helping, and celebrating successes – our business network groups are all about lifting our business owners up. We are about supporting local charities and good causes. We are importantly there not just for the good times, but also to provide a shoulder and neutral sounding block when Business (or personal) life gets tough.
We also encourage people to come and visit our business networking groups – spread across the UK and our fantastic business networking groups supporting Cheshire businesses, we are ready to learn about how we can help.
Be you a start up wanting to make the right choice about a business networking group – or an established business ready to ditch the early mornings for once a month quality meetings with real decision makers – or you want to escape your Business bubble and connect with other senior leaders – we are the business network group you can come and try safe in the knowledge we are here to help you get the best from your networking experience.
Testing the Business Networking groups near you?
So – we hope this insight helps.
Of course we are biased in passionately believing in our approach – and we know for sure we are not everybody’s cup of business networking tea! Which is also why not everyone gets invited to join our group – and sadly – sometimes, rarely, we have to release members when they do not quite “fit” or adhere to our approach.
Do your homework – Different business networking groups will suit different people for sure.
BUT – If YOU want a full time person working as cheerleader for you, that will “match make” you to the best contacts, that will celebrate your successes and welcome you into a large business networking groups in your area – then why not get in touch?
Come and road test us before committing to membership of a business network groups near to you – its OK to visit and THEN decide!
Complete the form below and let’s see how we can help?