4 Things to look for in a Business Network
I’m often asked what people look for when joining a Business Network, and here are four key considerations. There are many different types of Networks that people might consider joining. All revolve around developing their business through a person-to-person format – by exposure to new contacts; new ideas; new teachings; and a community.
I personally am a member of, and find benefits from participating in, a number of these formats and so I’m happy to endorse some of these.
Here is a cross section of some typical formats:
- Strong Contact Networks BNI and District32 – Some of these can be demanding on your time with frequent regular meetings and high expectations and results orientation, and may have a narrow focus and closed category format. The District32 model is also closed in categories but offers more a modern approach to marketing and services and has a focus on a co-operative format seeking to leverage group buying power for members.
- Casual Contact Networks GOYA Networking – Offers regular but infrequent (say) monthly meetings, with open categories and informal referral process working to bring people together.
- Community Service Rotary or Lions, usually long-established and well-respected civic organizations with a focus on support and service.
- Professional Associations PMI or CCI – industry specific networks that share linkages through their profession and are active in updating the industry-specific knowledge and service requirements for members.
- Social Business Jaycees or WILDC women’s network – These could be large global organizations aimed at young professionals, or local groups with a social or special-interest focus.
- Developmental Business Networks The Local Business Network uniquely designed to integrate the successful elements of referral networking with the modern demands for constant problem solving and the teaching of business improvement topics.
The first six of the above seem to present options where the primary focus is on making contacts within that group, with varying degrees of referral opportunities and requirements. Some of the professional groups will include training and events to update industry knowledge requirements, however, that may not apply to typical owners wanting to grow their business.
The Local Business Network model offers a unique mix of three proven formats in one business network:
- growing a referral list of business contacts and potential referral partners across the group
- using a mastermind format to develop your knowledge-base and problem-solving skills
- expanding skills and implementing learnings from workshop sessions in key business topics
- a fourth key benefit is that The Local Business Network has a specific ‘local’ focus. This local focus supports the local economy of business operating nearby.
So, where are in your search?
In the past have you “tried” networking, and stopped?
In the past have you found some parts worked and other parts did not suit you?
Or, have you ignored it because you did not understand how to leverage the value?
People that feel they don’t have time to develop personal contacts, or people that will not expand their knowledge to apply directly to work ON their business, should probably stop reading this article and simply advertise more.
However, in service-based industries where human contact is important, there are limitations to what can be achieved through media and advertising alone.
So, while the “Social Business Model” is certainly making enormous strides in all aspects of marketing, the fact that people-buy-from-people will ensure that the business network in some form is here to stay. In fact, it might just be more important than ever due to the digital shift facing all business owners today.
Ivan Misner who founded the worldwide BNI model, sums it up with this quote: