Can Attending a Networking Meeting Help My Business?
It may surprise many of you to hear me say NO to the above question.
If I wanted to waste my time, I could construct a list of maybe a hundred people known to me personally who have attended networking meetings and are no longer in business.
So, why do I strongly encourage all business owners and those working in business development to attend a business network? The answer is simple. You cannot develop your business until you develop yourself. You cannot expand your business until you expand your circle of contacts. You cannot grow in the same old environment.
Are All Networking Meetings Equal?
Again NO. Networking meetings come in many shapes and forms but then again so do businesses so what meeting is good for one may not be for another. My advice is find one that suits you and the only way to do that is to jump on in.
If you know someone who attends a networking event then ask their advice. See if you can go along with them.
However, it is very easy to do research online and possibly more objective. The results using a search engine will often give you the larger networking organisations which can sometimes, but not always, be expensive and a little intimidating. A search on social media, for example, on Twitter using the hashtag #businessnetwork and another hashtag for the area you live or work in can be productive. I like to check out any photographs that are not obviously stock photos to see how the meeting is arranged, what the dress code is and if I feel I will fit in.
I myself currently attend three business networking groups as well as business development conferences. I have tried many over the years, and now try to avoid any that have a clique feel to them or any that limit the number of other business owners I may pitch to or indeed that I may speak at all. If I walk into a room and people are stood in unwelcoming groups I may not return again. I also avoid ones with expensive food options. Can lunch at the golf club really be worth £30?
My ideal business networking group is one with between 10 to 30 people, a mixture of ages and business type. An informal but structured format where everyone gets to pitch and is heard by everyone else. I am a believer that ‘breaking bread’ together can relax a group and take away nerves but no elaborate or expensive refreshments. Most of us attend to grow our business and our profits not the reverse.
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