After spending 2 years going to ‘free’ networking events, I finally figured out that it is a worthwhile investment to join an organized, dues collecting, structured networking group, like LeTip or BNI. I resisted it for so long because I thought that all networking groups were the same and that they had the same intention. Boy, was I wrong.
I thought that everyone at a networking event had the same intention as I did: Meet business people that you could collaborate with, meet those whose service you could use now or in the future, and get the word out about my own business too. And sometimes I did accomplish this goal.
Where things were falling flat was that follow through was not usually happening. Not just on other’s part, but I was not following through either. For some reason I would let things just slip away and hope that the other guy would call me.
When I finally got serious at looking at LeTip, I saw that not only was I making a financial commitment to the group, but I was also making a commitment to support them. LeTip has many rules and regulations. Many people don’t like this. I personally find that I work better with structure and also knowing that we are all under the same rules.
So what are some of those rules and how does it help my business?
Meetings are weekly and attendance is mandatory
Yikes! Every week? It allows us to get to know a bit more about others’ businesses and find ways that we can refer them to our family and friends. Because attendance is mandatory (vacations excepted) you know that others are making the commitment to be there, just like you are. When we meet weekly, it is like seeing good friends again. Many look forward to seeing everyone.
Meetings start on time and end on time
Do I really need to say anything about this? How great is that! They start early (in our case, 7 a.m.) and you know when they will be over. You can schedule your day.
You must bring a referral each week
Well, on average, one a week. This keeps you on your toes. This makes you find out more about other’s businesses so that you know what a good referral will be. You also know that others are looking at you and your business more carefully. They don’t want to miss an opportunity to refer your business. There is something very satisfying in being able to connect people to good services.
Each week you give your 30 second commercial
This makes you focus on how you are going to market your business. Instead of being able to conveniently put off looking at the marketing of your business, you now have incentive to look at it at least once a week. You also get to think about something new that you want to share with the group about your business. You get to help others understand what you do 52 times a year, not just hit or miss. Many also report that this helps them to feel more comfortable speaking in front of groups of people.
I am sure that there is more to mention, but you get the picture. The key factor is that all of those in your group are committed to each other.
If you are looking for an effective way to promote your business through networking, please give LeTip serious consideration. It is not for everyone, but if it is for you, you will wonder how you ever promoted your business without it.
Oh yes, I am a member of LeTip of Manorville, here on Long Island. If you are local and interested in checking out our chapter (or another one), please let me know.