Business networking is something that has confused me for a while now. In theory it seems like a good idea to form new relationships with other businesses, be social and get away from your own environment and hopefully at some point gain some extra work because of it. I’ve tried a few over the last year and my overall conclusion was that I didn’t need to go. The extra hours required to put into it and the overall expectation of group contribution did not come out in favour once I compared this with how much work I could do and what I would earn in the same amount of time. However – these meetings are at stupid o clock in the morning, 6.30am, in fact. So the likely hood of me being at my at my desk actually earning money at this time of day are slim to none. I’m leaning further towards none.
Is networking for you?
You won’t know until you give it a go. They are mainly based on the same format and the majority of them do start between 6.30am and 7.30am. Some networking groups are each week but I have found some that are bi-weekly and monthly which suits me far better with our heavy workload. It largely depends on the group you join. Some I’ve really enjoyed and some I’ve just wanted to run away from. Having tried a few that were recommended to me and not succeeded in my quest I gave up for a while, decided quite categorically that I tried it but that was that. In the meantime at Ambercouch we started a local campaign that we called CF72, based on the postcode area that we live and work in.
Having spent some time boldly walking into shops and businesses, to introduce Ambercouch and what we could offer them, I had a phone call from an interest party. Rob at R R Architects was enquiring about a price for a new website for his local business. The campaign started well and a few enquires later I re-confirmed my decision with myself that I had made the right decision about not joining a business networking group. Although I have to say that the people at networking groups are for more polite than some of the businesses and stores I visited promoting my campaign. Some were plain rude, some gave me the titled head and the ‘well done’ as if I was a child that had just walked for the first time and others just simply ignored me and didn’t even respond when I said hello, at this point the prospects of going back to a business networking group were looking promising.
I gave in
Meeting Rob was great, he was easy to get along with and generally quite positive, he had mentioned a group that he was part of, it was local, it was less than 10 mins drive and it was full of local businesses. The group is called Pontyclun Business Community. I went along for my first visit as Rob’s guest and was pleasantly surprised. It does follow the same format as a the more structured meetings but the group is friendly and relaxed.
I went a couple of times and thought, I would give it a go, there wasn’t much to loose really, the costs are low and it was just what I wanted to get to know other local businesses. This group is £4 every other week and that includes tea/coffee and some homemade breakfast delights from Claire from Cooked From Scratch. The annual fee is £100 which goes towards the costs of general running of the group.
So if you are looking for a suitable group to join then they are out there, it just takes a while finding the right one. this group is based in Miskin, R.C.T, if you live near by and want to give it a go pop along and come and say hi!
On a roll….
A few of the members at the Pontyclun group recommended another group that was just getting off the ground. This one was even closer to my house and you don’t need to be there until 7.30am, brilliant an extra hour later! It turns out it is also free and breakfast is supplied, nice hot and cold breakfast buffet also supplied by Claire from Cooked from Scratch.
It would appear I had found another group that was suited to me, this one is again relaxed and friendly. It is made up of some core people who are purely there to introduce themselves and support the others in the group. You are not required to bring referrals, or testimonials. you are just require to turn up and show your support.
So if you are thinking about getting into networking, all you can do is give a go. It may work for you it may not but no harm can come of building new relationships with other local businesses. For us it isn’t about gaining new work as such it is more about being able to offer advice to local companies and just let them know we exist. If we get work out of it it is a bonus, I would never go with the hard sell in mind, it’s just not our style. Educate and inform and if they are interest they will contact us. People buy from people so just be yourself and see what happens!
Here’s some helpful links to visit next from things mentioned in this post.