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  1. #1
    SitePoint Addict jessebhunt's Avatar
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    Networking Groups - I'm Now a Believer!

    I've read numerous posts and articles that tout the benefits of joining marketing groups like BNI.

    Although I'd heard many good things about these groups, I never bothered to go to one. I'm not really sure why I didn't; I guess I envisioned a bunch of people sitting around, holding hands, singing Kum-ba-yah or something (just kidding!)

    Anyway, I finally attended one of these groups last week. It was called the Business Referral Network. I was REALLY surprised when I got there. Everyone was friendly AND everyone was interested in hearing about my services! I actually got two good referrals on my first visit!

    Yesterday, I attended a BNI meeting, and didn't like it quite as much. Somehow I didn't "click" with that group of people. However, while I was there, I found out about another BNI group that meets in this area. So, I visited the second BNI group this morning and it was MUCH better.

    The people were great, there was a broad selection of professions, and I got another referral!

    I plan to join both BRN and BNI next week.

    From what I've seen so far, I'd highly recommend these networking groups to anyone who wants to expand their business. The people who attend are friendly, interested in what you have to say, and VERY serious about business in general.

    One other point worth mentioning is that these groups only allow one member per profession in a group. So, once you join, you'll never have to worry about competition joining the same group.


    Has anyone else tried these networking groups? Did it work for you?
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  2. #2
    SitePoint Guru hifigrafix's Avatar
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    Please keep us posted and let us know how these referrals pan out. I went to a BNI meeting and was somewhat "tricked" into going as it was pitched to me as "We were referred by a friend (someone I'd never heard of) and are interested in hiring you". I couldn't get much out of the caller besides a place/date/time.. Showed up and was asked for $10 to go in and i'm like "wtf?". Out of curiosity I paid and went in and it seemed like a bunch of lazy people looking for the golden ticket.

    I was pissed off as the room was full of doctors and secretaries trying to get in each others pants... After spending 2 hours out of a workday I left minus 100 business cards and not much hope for solid leads.

    At the meeting I recognized 2 of the organizers as people that lured a friend into a pyramid scheme (whereas they originally got my name and #).

    Anyways - I liked the idea and know that with a diverse room of people I might be able to make a sale so let us know if you actually score these gigs and ultimately if they are good clients.

  3. #3
    SitePoint Addict jessebhunt's Avatar
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    Wow... that sounds totally different than what I experienced.

    The BNI meetings that I attended didn't ask for any money from guests. However, you can only attend as a guest twice. After that, if you want to join, it costs about $300 per year.

    It sounds like you may have just gone to a bad group. Perhaps you should look on the BNI website & see if there is another local group that you can visit.

    Anyway, I'll keep y'all posted on how the leads pan out.
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  4. #4
    SitePoint Guru hifigrafix's Avatar
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    Yea please do. It was a very bad experience and has kept me from visiting similar operations.

  5. #5
    SitePoint Evangelist
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    That's awesome, Jesse! Your post encouraged me.

    I had the same misconceptions about BNI and "business groups" in general - the idea seemed so fake and "schmoozy" to me!

    A friend had been pestering me about attending "Visitors Day", so I did. The people seemed nice enough and I felt a positive energy from the group.

    I've been a BNI member since last July-- and it's been great! I've met WAY more people then I ever could "on my own". Of course, it takes time for people to get to know and trust you before they start sending business your way - but that's natural with anything.

    One of the most important lessons I learned about being self-employed: it's not "what you know" (that's good when you're working for someone else) - it's "WHO YOU KNOW" that really counts! BNI is a great way of facilitating this.

    -Costas

  6. #6
    SitePoint Wizard johntabita's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by hifigrafix
    I went to a BNI meeting and was somewhat "tricked" into going as it was pitched to me as "We were referred by a friend (someone I'd never heard of) and are interested in hiring you". I couldn't get much out of the caller besides a place/date/time.. Showed up and was asked for $10 to go in and i'm like "wtf?". Out of curiosity I paid and went in and it seemed like a bunch of lazy people looking for the golden ticket.

    I was pissed off as the room was full of doctors and secretaries trying to get in each others pants... After spending 2 hours out of a workday I left minus 100 business cards and not much hope for solid leads.

    At the meeting I recognized 2 of the organizers as people that lured a friend into a pyramid scheme (whereas they originally got my name and #).
    Yeah, you had a bad experience, but don't let that dissuade you. Your experience is more of a reflection of the person who tricked you into attending than networking groups as a whole. There are so many different types of groups like BRN, BNI, and chambers of commerce that you ought to be able to find a few that will fit you. Most groups will let you visit free of charge two or three times.

    The thing to remember about networking groups is that you're not there to sell. So if you attend an event and expect to walk out with leads, you'll be sorely disappointed. (That said, I attended an event this morning for a chamber I'm considering joining and ended up with two leads. But that is certainly not the norm.) You should go with the intention of helping others and building relationships.

    Building relationships isn't only about doing so with potential clients. I recently met someone who's built a very successful business employing 20+ people. I don't anticipate him becoming a client, but he's a successful business person who's more than willing to share his knowledge and expertise. In other words, a good person to know. How did I come to meet him? Well, I heard him speak at a networking event, so I sent him a 'thank you' card, asked if I could invite him to lunch and chat about how he built his business. The advice he gave: meet people. One way he did that was to invite successful business people to lunch and ask them to share their success secrets - exactly what I had done with him. Now he's on the other side of the table, giving back what he'd received, which is what it's all about.

    Another thing: volunteer for committees, to be a greeter, a speaker... anything that will get you noticed and allow you to meet more people. Bear in mind that this is farming, not hunting. You first must "sow" by building relationships and trust, but eventually you'll "reap" the reward of getting business through those relationships. I believe it's possible to have 100 percent of your business coming from referrals, because I know people that do, but it takes time, sometimes years. But that ought to be the goal of any service-oriented business like ours.

  7. #7
    Life is short. Be happy today! silver trophybronze trophy Sagewing's Avatar
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    Awesome post John, thanks..
    The fewer our wants, the nearer we resemble the gods. Socrates

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  8. #8
    SitePoint Addict jessebhunt's Avatar
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    Good points John.

    I also found this page of articles by Ivan Misner (the founder of BNI.) Many of these articles offer some good advice about getting the most out of networking.
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  9. #9
    Word Painter silver trophy Shyflower's Avatar
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    Off Topic:

    Quote Originally Posted by johntabita
    Building relationships isn't only about doing so with potential clients. I recently met someone who's built a very successful business employing 20+ people. I don't anticipate him becoming a client, but he's a successful business person who's more than willing to share his knowledge and expertise. In other words, a good person to know.
    Just like John and Jesse and a host of people around here. Of course there's not much face-to-face, but Site Point is a good place to find lots of folks who are good to know.
    Linda Jenkinson
    "Say what you mean. Mean what you say. But don't say it mean." ~Unknown


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