Some excellent networking ideas courtesy of Bob Haywood!
Yesterday I wrote about why you should join a Networking Group. Many people asked what they should do if there isn't a networking group in their area or if the networking group(s) have no openings. In either of those cases I recommend starting your own networking group!
And how do you do that? It's simple!
1)If you're a real estate agent, find a group of other small business owners who are looking to grow their businesses (but who are not in a network group). I started with my Insurance guy when we formed our first group.
2)Choose a group to affiliate with...or NOT. Many like the BNI and/or Goldstar models. To find them, just do a Google search for BNI or Goldstar. You can search for your regional director and see if there are any other groups in your area. Even if there are other groups, you can often start a new one. My new group is going independent this time around because we don't want to be affiliated with a higher up hierarchy. We want to be able to set our own agenda, dues, meeting times, etc. We couldn't do that in the BNI system.
3)If you go with BNI, Goldstar or some other structured group, they'll guide you through the process of getting your networking group up and running. In our case, we're setting up our group around our own agenda.
- Welcome and introductions (if guests are visiting that day)
- Business card box
- Personal Goals Accountability
- Owasso Blog teaching and update
- Business Builder Panel
- "My Business" (once per quarter)
- Special Project Update/Referral Report
- Closing inspirational thought
The idea behind this group is that we want to be a business support group as well as a referral base. We will keep the basic rule of one person per profession, so that anyone can discuss their business "secrets" or ideas openly, without fear of the competition taking all their stuff and implementing it around town.
Now, let me explain a few of the items on the agenda.
The Business card box is exactly what it sounds like. A box where everyone puts their business cards. The purpose is to be able to restock your business card book, which will be provided to each member of the group. Obviously, this isn't an original idea. Most networking groups do something like this. The reason is that, to make a referral quickly, you always need to have the cards of those in your group handy. Each week, each member restocks their cards in the box and takes whatever cards they need for their business card holder.
Personal Goals Accountability is an opportunity for each member of the group to set weekly, monthly, quarterly (or whatever) goals for themself and then to report to the group on how they did. This isn't a slap your hand if you didn't do what you said kind of thing, but rather an encouragement to set goals and evaluate how you did in hitting those goals. Each business owner chooses whether or not to participate, what goals they want to set and the accountability. The idea is based upon giving everyone a safe place to grow their business in a supportive environment. If someone doesn't want to set personal goals, they don't have to. But hopefully, over time, they'll see how others are benefitting and moving their business forward.
Tomorrow I'll cover the Owasso Blog Update and the Business Builder Panel. These two components are a part of what's going to make our group different from others and very powerful.
Picture from Flickr Creative Commons: http://www.flickr.com/photos/cambodia4kidsorg/3859200941/
Information and content in this blog is original to Bob Haywood.
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