People often ask me how I get most of my business, and the simple answer is, Networking.
In my first year of business I wasted lots of money on silly marketing, expensive brochures, and lots of advertising. This led to small returns and an empty bank account. It was then I realised that that the saying 'its not what you know, its who you know" is completely true.
My first networking experience was back in December 2010 when my accountant invited me along to a BNI Breakfast meeting. I was a bit shocked when I found out that the meeting started at 6:30am, but went along anyway to see what it was all about. People obviously don't get up at that time of the morning if they are not serious about making money and building relationships.
BNI is a referral based business networking event, it has a structured agenda and procedures in place to maximise the business passed. Its all based on the 'Givers Gain' logic, if you give me business, I will want to give you business.
Becoming a member was a pretty easy decision to make. I could see that the amount of business being passed in the room between the members and also the great business relationships that were being made. I understand BNI doesnt work for everyone. Its a big commitment to make as its every week, its also nearly £1000 per year to be a member, but look at how much you would spend on a year long marketing campaign and it soon becomes clear that it really isn't that expensive and in effect you have around 30 people all looking for business for you. Just like having your own sales force. Also, its not just about the 30 or so people in the room, its also their clients and connections that you may be able to get an introduction to.
I have been a member now for 2 years at BNI Kett Chapter, We meet every Thursday at Bawburgh Golf Club, Just outside of Norwich in Norfolk.
You can find out more about BNI by visiting our chapters website, Feel free to get in touch if you would like to visit and find out more about what we do.
More recently I have joined another Business Networking group called Norwich Kitty. Kitty is much more laid back and informal. I like it because it is the complete opposite of BNI. Members meet up in Pubs around the city, have a beer, and informally network. But whilst its informal, these people are still serious about business, they still want to make new connections, they still want to grow their business, but they do so in a laid back environment. Norwich Kitty has been running for just over a year now, and has 90+ members. Membership is a mere £89, and for that you also get access to the members website, forum and business directory. Meetings are held every week in Pubs around the City. but you don't have to attend every meeting, its entirely up to you which ones you attend.
To find out more about the Norwich Kitty, you can do so by visiting their website
Now there is obviously many other networking groups around, and its all about finding out which one suits you, and your business. All I can say is, if you are serious about what you do, want to grow your business in 2013, Networking is certainly one of the most cost effective way of doing it.