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PRO

Business networking groups

Interested to hear about any and all your experiences on this one.  Business networking groups is something that was mentioned by my accountant and I am aware it works well for some people.

  • Anyone have experience of them now or in the past and what success have you had? Were they helpful? Did you get a good return on investment, i.e. did they generate good quality leads that turned into good quality work and did this work lead to a new client group so work kept coming through the door whether through the group or through recommendations? Were they a profitable use of your time?

 

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Replies

  • PRO

    Answer in one word re getting business - "no"

    However it is good to get perspectives from other local small businesses and see how they are doing - they also get me "out of the office" so to speak so I get to meet others and can chat, have a coffee/drink, etc. 

    If only there was one on whenever we have heavy rain it would be good :)

    • PRO

      Totally agree here with Adam.

      They are not a quick route to gaining work, rather they should be viewed as a long term investment that may generate contacts who know contacts etc.........but can be a great source of moral support, sounding boards and a relief from solitary work life.

      If you go, be prepared to get involved, practice a few short ‘pitches’, have basic contact details to hand etc and you need to be good at initiating a conversation and small talk.

      Be aware some can be quite ‘Masonic’ or clicky and you‘ll be the focus of consultants offering all sorts of ‘advice’ ;)

      • PRO

        and watch out for the sharks lurking.... pension, investment and money advisors :)

      • PRO

        I would start looking at community events, Fairs, small garden shows etc - ie events where your target customers are likely to be rather than business netwotk event if you need more instant results?

        At a local Farmers market I regularly see various conservation groups, a garden designer, an ‘eco’ based tree surgery business.

        They pay for the spot and rent the gazebo from local town council. How successful they are is hard to determine other than they get reasonable interest but it’s the follow up that would be key ......

         

  • Yip I attend a BNI group every Wednesday and I've had just under £25k in business in a year

    • PRO

      Been good for you then. Has that come direct from the group or as a result of leads they have generated for you. 

      • About 12k direct from members in the room the rest from them referring us to their family or clients 

        • PRO

          Sounds good. I'm looking to do this in Shrewsbury  where a lot of people know each other so could work. Looked at it 20 years ago when I was in the south east and it was a lot like Gary and Adam said. Loads of sharks. 

          • PRO

            some of the early ones came with strings attached Ed people trying to sell time shares etc , I once travelled all the way down to Guilford from the north to a Two day event at a hotel which ended up relieving me of £1500 for an unworkable  business opportunity which left you doing all the leg work and no ongoing support . 

            I feel its a good idea if you keep it at street level which revolve around modern business models an example my dog groomer realised there was a market for doggy day care , walking dogs for busy people etc and expanded into this and it creates a network all of its own , she knows mobile hair dressers ,mobile  car valetors , gardeners , I left some business cards with her .

            There is another scheme mums2mums who run different events they will distribute business cards and leaflets for a small fee at their events . 

            If you can identify the catalysts its probably a step in the right direction or alternatively become a catalyst .

  • PRO

    I've been going to one for a few years but not had a massive success.  This is mainly down to my lack of networking skill and being able to approach "clicks" of people who are all finance/solicitor/accountant types.  We do look after the grounds for one of the offices of the host, a firm of solicitors.  So I probably go more out of obligation than desire.  But that's just me not getting my head in the right place!  Interestingly, my friend goes to a BNI group and is always trying to recommend people to me.  I have tried a couple of her referrals and they were useless.  I think she is under pressure to refer regardless of having personal experience of them for fear of public flogging if she doesn't meet her quota  :-)

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