Author: Mark Orr
I've been taking an active part in Business Networking in Milton Keynes since June 2002. I love it so much that I run my own alternative business networking club.
In the early days, just like everybody else, I was attracted to business networking because I believed it was the best way for a small business owner like me to get a steady stream of qualified leads that I could easily convert into sales. There is some truth in that but, it's also a flawed business model. The problem is that everybody else you meet is primarily interested in selling to you and all your contacts. They're not focused on buying from you.
Back in 2002 every small business needed a printer and there weren't that many other printing companies out networking. I did well but wanted to do better and enjoy what I was doing more. So, I did some research and bumped into the mantra "Stop Selling, Start Helping". This attitude is completely aligned with my values. One of my flaws is that I get a much bigger buzz from helping somebody than I do from sell something. My focus in all business networking meetings became all about how I could genuinely help somebody which obviously included connected them with others that I know. But, it also included giving people lifts to hospital, helping people move house, collecting and delivering stuff and even gifting people money when they were down on their luck.
The very strange and interesting thing was that when I stopped selling and started helping I felt much better about myself and that attracted more sales. However, the most important thing it did was create genuine and lasting friendships, relationships and communities of likeminded people. So, I can also say that, more important than all the business I've received I've also been helped by so many people when I really needed it. This includes being driven to hospital, assistance with moving, helping my daughter, lending me equipment, the list goes on and on.
Why am I writing about this today? I run the Business Growth Club Milton Keynes which I describe as an alternative business networking event. At the moment we have to run our meetings online which isn't as much fun but, it keeps the club going and helps to engage our community. I work from home. In order to run the meetings online I need a good broadband connection and on Wednesday afternoon at 2pm my Vodafone Broadband completely failed. Sadly, they had no idea how long it would be out for.
On Thursday morning when I still had no broadband I called one of my members, Pam Parker who runs a factory in Tilbrook Milton Keynes called PPSGB. I knew she had good broadband and a spare training room. So I went there on Thursday to test it. I logged my laptop onto her wifi and then set up a zoom call with 2 other members. It worked and I was prepared. I still hoped my wifi would come back on Thursday afternoon but it didn't so Pam came to the rescue on Friday morning and 29 people still got to enjoy a great business networking meeting including 4 new members.
During the meeting I told people why my background looked different. One of my other long term members, Neil Sinclair of Libabun called out in the meeting to tell me that he had a spare mobile router that he no longer needed and that he'd bring it across to me in the afternoon. After the meeting he called me immediately and asked when I'd be in. I offered to come and collect it or meet him half way but he insisted on coming over as he wanted to install it and make sure it worked. This was an amazing act of kindness and friendship which helped me out in a crisis. That's why Neil deserves a big thank you from me and why you should be more like Neil and less like a sales person.