For attending my 100th networking meeting of The Business Club Lincolnshire.
So that got me thinking, why had I bothered?
My analytical mind went into overdrive, 100 meetings once a fortnight (give or take the odd one or two I missed) that’s nearly 4 years! And then each meeting being 3 hours plus follow up time over 300 hours of networking! Let’s roughly add in the money too, about £2k. That’s one heck of a commitment.
So was it all worth it?
When I first visited the club I didn’t join right away. It was brilliant and I could see the potential but the timing wasn’t right for me. I held off a little while. When I did join I put my entire promotional budget into that one club. I left a small amount aside for business cards, on which I spelt the word professional wrong. Whoops. I guess I made some other faux pas along the way too but you know that’s ok, that’s life.
Crudely I have secured enough work from the club each year to pay for my membership. But that’s not the main thing I have gained from the club.
You see that group of 80 odd businesses are my target group so I have a focus group for my ideas. Promotions, strap lines, USPs and liturature. All tested small scale before going out to my wider target audience. Before embarking on large costly campaigns. Do you know how much it would have cost to arrange that kind of focus group every fortnight for 4 years?!
Then there are suppliers. In that room of businesses are every type of business supply I could ever need. Accountant, admin support, solicitor, locksmith, you name it and it’s there. Do you know how well someone is motivated to look after you when they know they are signed up to see you every fortnight for the next year? That’s a big steer for getting rid of cowboys!
The formats at our club are quite unique and as well as the standard pitch and play are focused on helping each other to grow. That means great speakers, feedback, learning from each other and helping each other through the tough times. I have a whole team of people to ask advise from. Hundreds of years of trade experience in that room. All there along with some of the most direct and inspirational business thinkers in the country.
I’ve seen over the years some really rubbish networkers. Those that turn up once, do a sales pitch and wonder why they haven’t done a deal before the end of the night. Networking isn’t for them really. Networking is for people who are committed, I know I’m biased but it’s true. It’s a long game.