27 Jan 2015

How important is networking in Milton Keynes?

Author: BGC bgc

This week's light theme came from Andrew Buckley of Woodfines Solictors.  He asked the question because Andrew reckons he has billed over £100,000 from referrals from The Business Growth Club alone.  Unlike BNI, we don't measure referrals or their conversion into money.  I would only encourage members to do so if that is the fundamental reason why they have joined the Business Growth Club.

It was interesting to hear all the stories from members and guests around the table. The Business Growth Club is the most relaxed and conversational busines networking in Milton Keynes.  It was therefore not surprising that our members and guests did not have the greatest experience of more structured and disciplined groups like BNI  After all, if they liked BNI they would probably join one of their chapters and Business Growth Club wouldn't suiit them.  Ironically, one of our member is also joining BNI because we are not an exclusive group so it doesn't break one of BNI's many rules.

I would like to point out that I have been a BNI member and benefitted greatly from it.  Fundamenatlly, in order to get the most out of any group you have joined, you really need to tune yourself into the culture that already exists.  The only issue with that is that if it is a long way away from who you really are it is unlikely to be sustainable or enjoyable.

For me, networking is like all other forms of marketing.  It is a dating game.  You are looking for a long term partner who will like you just the way you are. Pretending to be something different may get you a few "one night stands" and they may be great fun and very enjoyable at the time but they won't last and will probably end in tears.

Many small business owners and professionals in Milton Keynes fall into the trap of thinking that "networking is the best form of marketing" becasue that is the only marketing they do.  You will hear people say "I get 80% of my business from networking".  When you ask them what other forms of marketing they use their faces go blank.  They don't do any other form of marketing.  Some business owners and professionals in Milton Keynes may actually win more work if they put the same kind of time, money and effort into other forms of marketing.  However, it won't be any where near as enjoyable as business networking in Milton Keynes.

Some people around the table highlighted the benefits of getting out and meeting people in Milton Keynes and therefore having their fingers on the pulse and knowing what is going on.  This is a very important point.  Some business owners and professionals in Milton Keynes are worried that going networking is a bit like volunteering to jump into a nest of vipers where everybody is only interested in selling something to them.  It may have been a bit like that 10 years ago but I think Social Media has changed the face to face networking scene in Milton Keynes.  There are now several groups where overt sales pitches are almost frowned upon.  For example you would look ridiculous doing that at Business Growth Club.

In the end, networking is really easy and is only made complicated by people with a vested interest in selling you "training" to show you how to do it. The only skill you need is the ability to take part in a genuine conversations where one person speaks and the other person listens in turn.  I love the quote from local Milton Keynes guru, Sunil Bali "two monologues don't make a dialogue".

Please tell me about a topic that you would love to discuss with 15 top 20 other business owners and professionals and I will make it into a light theme and invite you along to Buisnes Growth Club.