“If you’re not going to do something right, don’t do it all.”
While growing up, I heard that phrase from my father, and as I have learned since joining the working world, this definitely holds true for networking and business development.
I recently was invited to a meeting held here in St Louis by a local chapter of Business Networking International (BNI). This is definitely a group that knows what they’re doing.
Unlike the standard networking event, this was at 7:00am, before the start of the typical work day for most attendees. Usually, a networking event is organized around a happy hour or other social situation. Another difference I noticed at BNI versus most groups I have been a part of is the make-up of the members. BNI chapters approve applicants not just to increase their membership size but to improve the referral network of the entire group.
Each member has a specialized skill or service. For example, there is one CPA, one real estate broker, one plumber, one insurance agent, and more importantly, one furniture sales representative. Members are required to attend every meeting (or send a guest attendee in their place), highlight any meetings or referrals from the previous week, and most importantly, report any generated sales.
Unlike many Linkedin groups or social happy hour events, this networking group has one goal…increasing the business of its members. Participation isn’t viewed as an obligation, but instead as a revenue generator.
I would encourage you to research any success-focused groups in your area. Here is the link to the BNI website to determine if there is a chapter in your area.