Author: Mark Orr
What do I mean by Don't Sh** on Your Own Doorstep if you are a member of a business networking club? It's pretty basic really, treat everybody in your club in the same nice way you would like them to treat you.
So, why if this is so simple am I even bothering to mention it at all? Because, if you behave badly towards one of your fellow members, whether you meant to or not, they will tell everybody else in your club what you have done to them. Suddenly the club you joined to support you and your business will no longer be as supportive as you had hoped. Other members won't want to do you any favours and some may actually decide to work against you.
Business networking is a double edged sword. The kind of people who choose to join Business Networking Clubs are word of mouth specialists. They absolutely love to talk about themselves, their club and the other members of their club. This should be a good thing but, it isn't always that way. Remember, your fellow members love to gossip. So, if you do something stupid they will tell people about it. That could mean that all your hard work, your time and your money hasn't just been wasted but it could actively work against you.
These people are not telling other people bad things about you because they're nasty or bullies. They're doing it because they like to help protect other members of the same club. They're keen to make sure that nobody else who they know like and trust gets damaged by the same bad treatment they received.
I'm particularly sensitive to this stuff because i'm so well known in Milton Keynes. That means that every time somebody I know has behaved badly the person they offended will come and tell me because they know I like to help and protect other local business networkers.
This situation has very rarely happened between members of The Business Growth Club Milton Keynes which I run. We're a very open group so members are allowed to compete against each other but need to do that fairly and with respect. Although this problem is extremely rare in my group because of the very friendly and supportive culture we have cultivated, it has happened.
In every case I ask the person who is upset if they would allow me to discuss the matter with the person who upset them. In most cases they are happy for me to do so. When I have that conversation I most often find the offender has just been very stupid and thoughtless rather than malicious. Once they know how offensive their thoughtless stupidity was they are often horrified and extremely keen to put things straight. The result is the two members become business buddies again and start saying nice things about each other.
Sadly, on a very few occasions the offender couldn't give a sh** and won't change their ways. I therefore have to let them go from the group as their behaviour could become a cancer damaging the harmony of the whole group.
Also sadly, some offended members won't let me talk to the member who has upset them. They internalise their anger and their bitterness and end up leaving a group that they love. This can also lead to the offending member being left to carry on with their bad behaviour towards another member rather than helping them to learn from their mistakes.
So, if you want to rely on a Business Networking Club to support you and your business day in day out take a great deal of care of the other members and be extremely sensitive to their likes and dislikes. But, do it congruently in line with your true self and personality. The three most important things about business networking are Number 1, Be Yourself, Number 2, Be Yourself and number 3, Be Yourself. As Sunil Bali says, "It's the one thing you're definitely world champion at and people pay less for copies" :-)