Business networking puts more money in your pocket by helping you overcome the number one biggest problem facing new business owners. Prospecting for new customers. Business networking events can go a long way towards making the whole prospecting problem go away. There are two main kinds of networking opportunities available to the average entrepreneur. Passive networking and strong networking. Both have unique benefits and drawbacks.
The most well known example of passive networking is your local chamber of commerce. You can find a chamber of commerce chapter in almost every major city worldwide. Your local chamber of commerce gives you the opportunity to meet with many of the movers and shakers in your local business community. Through the many events they plan on a monthly and yearly basis, they offer you a chance to connect with a number of potential prospects for your products and services.
Weekly networking groups or clubs are an example of strong networking opportunities. These kinds of business networking events can be found in many major cities worldwide. A strong networking group will meet on a weekly basis for the sole purpose of exchanging business leads with one another and learning better ways of networking to grow their business. The most successful networking groups require your weekly attendance and insist that their members provide fellow members with referrals throughout the year. They also allow only one person from each profession or industry to belong to the group. This keeps the quality of the referrals high. One such group is Business Network International (BNI).
So what are the advantages and disadvantages of each kind of networking? They both have their place but strong networking groups represent a bigger commitment than passive networking groups. By belonging to a strong networking group, you are committed to be on the lookout for referrals for group members. Strong networking groups also usually meet on a weekly basis whereas passive networking groups usually meet monthly.
Passive networks can have multiple people from one profession or industry as members. They also have no requirements for passing on referrals to other members. Referrals do occur in a passive networking event but it is not facilitated by the meeting and is totally up to the business owner to initiate. You can belong to multiple passive networking groups. Any business you get from passive networking will most likely be a result of the amount of effort you put in.
Strong networks on the other hand restrict membership to only one person per industry or profession. This greatly increases the likelihood that you will receive referrals from participating members. Meetings are structured in a way to encourage referrals and there is a formal referral exchange that happens every week. It is strongly recommended that you only belong to one strong networking group in order to keep the quality of your referrals high.
In either case, it is important for members of these groups to see you as professional and competent. Referrals will go to people the referrer knows, likes and trusts.
Want more business? Start attending business networking events in your area.