Networking. Where to start?

An important part of any new business is networking, meeting other people that may either require your services or perhaps know someone that will. Laying foundations with new contacts, and sowing seeds for business growth.

And this day and age there are many networking events out there. All of them are very good. They all have something slightly different to offer.

But how do you know which one to go for, actually that should read, which ONES to go for? There are lots. Locally I know of at least half a dozen, and I am going to give you a little insight to just a few of them, then you can decide which if any, you want to attend.

Remember, some of them cost you a few hundred pound per year to join, so you need to weigh up your investment and potential ROI when joining. Also consider how much time you are going to be able to spare for networking. It can become a bit addictive, and you may soon find yourself attending one a day…either morning, lunch or evening events. They are going on everywhere all the time.

The thing to bear in mind is that networking is all about meeting people, getting to know them and trust them enough to put business their way or refer others to them. The people that you meet are your sales team.

BNI

BNI (www.bni.com) this for me is the marmite of Networking. You either love it or you hate it. It does get some bad press, and most of it is unfair. It is very well structured, and has been around a while now, and it continues to grow, proving that it is a winning formula. Each location is a ‘Chapter’ and each Chapter has a Director. Chapters are located all over the world, and BNI is possibly one of the biggest networks around. A yearly subscription is around £400 – £500, and all of those who become members are expected to give referrals to other members, and like-wise receive referrals.  You are expected to attend each meeting. Only one person /company from each trade can join a Chapter.  It’s good and it does work. If you are interested talk to your local representative.

4Networking

4Networking (www.4networking.biz) is growing rapidly. Over 300 breakfasts meets all over the country and even Australia now too, and around 44,500 members. 4N is a little more relaxed than BNI but that doesn’t mean that there isn’t a lot of business going on. A Group Leader will chair the meeting, and it’s great for getting some 1-2-1s with new contacts and refreshing old ones. Again, it’s between £400 and £500 per year to join, but you can attend any of the breakfasts, and it is a good idea to make the most of it and get to as many as you can, especially in the early days. Some of the venues may not suit you. It’s good to “shop around

Written by Paul Weston

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Paul Weston

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