In every town (and often village) there will be at least one business or networking club, which exists to help the members of the club form a referral network. Typically, a formal business networking group should yield a return on investment of 20+. It’s no surprise then that business networking and business clubs are everywhere you look.Most formal business networking clubs tend to be frequented by micro business owners and professionals with a responsibility for business development. As you probably realise, there are no shortcuts to success in business, and business networking clubs are no exception. (Despite what the business networking club’s literature may state!) To generate business from a business networking club takes time, money and effort. To help you get the greatest return on your investment in a business networking club, here is our guide to how you can generate a positive return on your investment in a formal business networking club work for your business. 1. Choose your business networking club very carefully Ideally your business networking club should be made up of members who are well connected to your target market. For example, one of my business contacts has a very specialist business where he wants to meet criminal solicitors. As criminal solicitors tend not to be on the general local small business networking circuit, he is unlikely to benefit from being in a business networking club. Do gauge how much business is being passed at each meeting – and attend twice as a guest before you commit to an often expensive membership subscription fee. 2. Get one-to-one meetings with all the members of the group Until the members of the club know, like and trust you, they will not pass business your way. Therefore, take the time to meet each and every member personally to build a strong relationship with them. 3. Give it time Many people make the mistake of thinking that they’ll instantly generate referrals and leads when they join a business networking club. You may be lucky, but the members of the club need to know, like and trust you before they will pass business your way. Plan on not getting any referrals from your business networking club for three months. If you have a high priced service or product, it could take longer than three months to generate your first referral. 4. Work hard to find opportunities for other members BNI call it “Givers Gain” – and this is the mindset that a successful networker will always be on the lookout for opportunities for others. If you have this mindset, then business almost always follows. The person within the group who works the hardest to find opportunities for the other members is probably also receiving the most amount of opportunities back. 5. Be specific in your requests It sounds slightly illogical, but the more specific you can be with your requests of the group, the more likely members of the group will be able to help. For example, if you say “I’m looking for local businesses who would like to save money”, you are unlikely to get a response, as every business owner needs to save money. If you say, “I’m looking for local businesses who are looking to move premises, and want to save money on their legal bills”, you’ll be more likely to get responses. Keep reading the tips on page two.
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