Business networking is the key to increasing exposure to your business. Meeting trusted professionals in various sectors is bound to be a positive step forward for your business.

 How does a Business Networking Group work?

Once finding the group you wish to join, there is a usually a joining fee plus an on-going monthly/annual cost that you pay. In return you get to attend regular meetings with other professionals, all arranged by the networking group themselves. These meetings can take place as often as once a week. In these meetings you can discuss anything you feel that needs to be addressed in order to help achieve your business’s objectives. To prevent competition, the groups are arranged so that no more than 1 of the same profession attend the same group.

 

Is it worth the time and money?

Business networking groups are notoriously effective ways to take the opportunity to exchange contact details with trusted professionals in various sectors. So is it worth sacraficing your mornings to attend meetings over breakfast, instead of having that extra 90 minutes to sleep in bed? Is it even worth paying around £400-£500 annually and the £100 joining fee?

Time: The extra 90 minutes you will lie in bed, whether you sleep or procrastinate on the tasks for the day ahead – set your alarm 90 minutes earlier, and attend these priceless networking opportunities. 90 minutes networking with another professional may secure you a referral/lead for the big contract you’ve been waiting for! You only need 6-8 hours sleep anyway, so if your one of those people that sleep through for half of your day, then you know what you should be doing right now!

Money: In my opinion, if you would like to expand your business and don’t have the funds or refuse to pay for the extortionate advertising costs, this is most definitely a cheaper option. You could pay around £200 for an advertising spot in your local newspaper and get nowhere at all with it – back to square one. However invest twice that for the annual membership of a business networking group, and you’ll have yourself a phone book full of professional contacts that are actively recommending your services/products to others in their day-to-day life. Now that’s what I call effective marketing. Don’t forget what I mentioned about word-of-mouth advertising in my previous article – ‘The 5 Steps to Success’:

[quotes]…word-of-mouth is one of the most powerful forms of advertising.”[/quotes]

 

What Business Networking Groups can you join?

  • Business Networking International (BNI)With over 145,000 members they are the largest business networking and referral marketing organization in the world.
Costs: around £450 per year + one-off joining fee of £100. Optional: you also need to pay a monthly amount for your breakfasts – usually between £40 – 50.
Website: www.bni.com
  • British Chambers of Commerce (BCC) Has over 104,000 members, their mission is to make the chamber network an essential part of growing business; we do this by sharing opportunities, knowledge and expertise.
Costs: (based on joining a chamber in London): from £364 per year + one-off £50 joining fee. Plus VAT.
  • Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) – The Federation of Small Businesses is the UK’s largest campaigning pressure group promoting and protecting the interests of the self-employed and owners of small firms. Formed in 1974, it now has 200,000 members. They provide legal, tax advice and more.
Costs: from £120 per year + one-off joining fee of £30.
Website: www.fsb.org.uk
  •  Institute of Directors (IoD) With over 37,000 members, IoD are the UK’s largest and oldest membership organisation for directors and professional leaders. They are an organisation which is acknowledged world-wide as a leader in business and corporate governance, also saving you time and money.
Costs: (based on if you’re under 30 years of age) from £340 per year + one-off joining fee of £215.
Website: www.iod.com