If you’re like me, and you run a business on your own (I do have a trusted sidekick!), or you’re a business owner who has a small team of staff, do you ever think to yourself; “There must be an easier way to get business!” Well, you’ll be pleased to learn – there is.
When I first started out in business, I didn’t know that networking groups existed. So, if networking is new to you, or you’re just starting out, or you’re someone who wants to try something new (that works), here’s a guide I’d like to share with you about the wonderful world of networking. There are lots of different types of networking groups. And, because of their differences they can sometimes feel slightly intimidating.
The Different Networking Groups
Below, I have noted a selection that I’ve been a member of, and I’ve also included the one group I’m a member of now.
Black Country Chamber of Commerce – https://www.blackcountrychamber.co.uk/
You can sign up to be a member, or you can opt for pay-as-you-go for when you want to attend some of their events. You will find a list of their events on their website.
This style of networking is less formal, and if you are new to networking, it’s probably a good place to start. It’s where I started out.
Greater Birmingham Chamber of Commerce – https://www.greaterbirminghamchambers.com/
This networking group is similar to the above group, but their reach is bigger. They cover 10 different groups. Check out their website for the full list.
4Networking – https://www.4networking.biz/
These guys also offer a very informal way to network. When you join as a member you will meet up with your networking family once a fortnight. They have groups all over the UK and they cater for people who want to attend at various times of the day. This can be morning/lunchtime and even evening groups. This style of networking is quite informal. (See their website for costs).
BNI – https://bni.co.uk
This is the group I’m a member of now. For various reasons I never thought I would ever join BNI. The main reason being – their style of networking. They meet weekly and have a lot of structure behind them. When I first joined, they only used to offer meetings that started at 6.30am! (I know, how early is that!).
BNI are the World’s Leading Business Networking and Referral Organisation. Don’t just take my word for it; check out their website.
My Chapter (group), meet once a week on a Friday. The meeting starts at 10.30am. BNI has a one seat policy – meaning if you join, no-one else who provides the same service as you will be allowed to join. How good is that?! You get to hold the mike!
BNI has changed over the years. They appreciate that as business owners we each have a business to run, and they fully appreciate that there will be times when you might not be able to attend. For example, you may have an important client meeting to go to, or you may be away on holiday, etc. To accommodate this, they allow you to send a sub to cover your seat. This can be a friend, an employee, a client, in fact, anyone who you know – providing their service is not represented already in your chapter by one of the existing members.
How does it work?
In my Chapter (group) we have 34 paid members – including me. The other 33 members act as my sales team. When they are out and about with their clients, family or friends, if they hear anyone mentioning they need to recruit – they mention me to them. Again, how good is that?! And, once they’ve mentioned me and what I do, they pass it to me as a lead, as a referral – which is a warm lead; an intro for me into that company.
And, it doesn’t stop there! When I am out and about with either my clients, friends or family, I do the exact same thing for my members.
What other organisation can open a door to a company that you’ve wanted to have on your client list for ages, but to date, you’ve failed each time you’ve tried to contact them?
BNI is my marketing tool. Pretty cool. Right?!
Being in the BNI group goes like this: You attend your BNI meeting once a week, you mention the company’s name, including the person you’re trying to reach, and bingo, one of your members shouts out – “I know them, I’ll introduce you.” Just Brilliant!
I would strongly advise you to try a few of those groups mentioned here, and find out which style of networking you prefer, including which group suits you best.
During my earlier years in business, if my situation had been different, and today’s style of networking was offered back then; I would, without a doubt, have chosen BNI.
My advice to you to is: At least, once or twice, go and visit a chapter near you, and see what you think – you don’t have to join; they won’t force you!
Embrace the opportunity to take your business to the next level!
If you would like more information on any of the above networking groups, please drop me an email with your contact telephone number and I will personally give you a call.
Need help in your business?
If you are looking for a service provider, I can help you with that too. I have a long list of trusted connections I can introduce you to – ranging from:
- HR advice
- Electrician / Plumber
- Business Coach
- Embroidered Work Wear supplier
- Commercial Energy Broker
- Business Support Services – ranging from Virtual PA to help with your day to day admin
The list goes on and on! If you need help; let me know. My contact number is: 01902 907123.