Archive for July 2011

What is a Business Networking Group?

I wrote this after a dinner party when one of the other guests asked me what I do. I used the phrase 'Business Networking Group' in my reply and she said, "What's a Business Networking Group?"

I was a little thrown at first, but realised I shouldn't be. I think we often assume that everyone knows more about whatever it is we do than they actually do. I once met someone on a Referral Institute training course who had written technical manuals. He said that the instructions included the advice to write so that an 8 year old can understand.

Wikipedia describes Business Networking as 'a socioeconomic activity by which groups of like-minded businesspeople recognize, create, or act upon business opportunities. A business network is a type of social network whose reason for existing is business activity'.

A little complicated so I realised that I needed to explain a little bit more. I explained that there are now many more people running their own business than ever before. Many of them are specialists in what they do and do not have any marketing or sales people. They rely on personal recommendation or word of mouth for their business. Their main problem is that they need more of these opportunities than they currently have. Many of the older business support services in the public and private sector do not really help these business people with generating positive word of mouth. As a result specialist business networking organisations have emerged.

Any club or group group exists because the members share and are committed to a common cause. The common cause for the members of a business networking group will usually be helping each other in business. This may be around sharing business, support and information (or all 3). It is mainly the need to generate more business by recommendation that has lead to the growth in the market of specialist business networking groups.

A business networking group is a club where the common cause is helping each other become more successful in business.

The most important thing in an effective business networking group is that the members don't just share the same needs. They must be in a position to really help each other. That will often mean that the members share similar target markets and provide similar value services. Success is then down to the commitment and contribution they make.

Would an 8 year old understand how you describe what you do?

Good Networking!
Dave Clarke

ps Visit the new home of the business networking blog for the latest posts

The small business advantage in the Digital Age

I wrote this on a train heading into London earlier this year and it was first published at the new home of the business networking blog. I was on my way to a 'Digital Mindset' workshop from Ecademy founders Penny & Thomas Power. The idea that Ecademy website was about 'Learning, networking and business development for the digital age' got me thinking about whether things have really changed.

If we are in a 'digital age' what does this mean for the Owners, Directors and Partners of small specialist businesses and professional firms? It is mainly these people who go networking as their primary route to market.

Most of the people I meet in this category are passionate about what they do and are open and transparent about what they do and why. It is this passion, openness & transparency that gives them an advantage in this digital age. It is exactly the right approach online.

Contrast this with the news furore at the time about wikileaks. Whatever the rights or wrongs of leaking the information the revelations showed some of our politicians, diplomats and representatives of big business taking the opposite approach. Saying one thing in private and another thing in public. The internet has made it easier to judge openness, honesty and transparency. The very things that small business is mainly better at that big business.

You may have heard the expression 'people buy people'. The approach for the digital age is the same as what came before.

Be yourself!

Good Networking!

Dave Clarke

ps Visit the new home of the business networking blog for the latest posts