This story is true.
It’s about not quitting!
Some years ago I belonged to a networking group that ran by a long list of bylaws. Our group had a rule to hold members accountable for business referrals exchange. During my daily business calls I met a guy who was a real go-getter. He was very successful already and after getting to know him better I suggested that he join our group.
This group allowed only one person in each business category, e.g., one banker, one Realtor™, one printer, etc. Our bylaws would not allow anyone who was a member to be a member of a similar group. This promoted loyalty among our members.
My friend was accepted into our networking group and was a member for 17 months without receiving any business referrals. He was not a quitter. Most people would have quit after 3 or 4 months. He would bring an occasional business referral and missed only one meeting during that time.
He was committed! Our monthly dues were $40. We had 50 meetings a year. Yearly dues were $480 + another $500 for lunch (Lunch was a buffet and was $10) = an investment of about $980 per year.
What did our group do with all that money? At our peak we had 62 very active members; members who were committed to attending 50 weekly meetings a year. Our collected yearly dues were just shy of $30,000. Our networking group sponsored yearly donations to several local charity groups that the members chose, and we scheduled what we called “Social Connections” which included quarterly parties, beach parties at the lake, road trips, and much more. It was a FUN group and we all had lots of fun socially as well as 98% of the group rarely missed a meeting because the meetings were strictly business and lots of business referrals were always exchanged.
I was president of the group and during one of our meetings I was encouraging our members to do a better job of actively looking for referrals for other members during the week so we could increase the number of referrals that were exchanged. During my talk I said:
“If you are not receiving business referrals, you are probably not giving any. (Someone said, “Amen!”) We need to do a better job of meeting each other outside of the meeting to get better acquainted with one another. You must be present at all meetings, so that you can be present for others to hear the kind of referrals you need. Being present at meetings calls attention to yourself and if you want more referrals, you must bring more referrals. If you want to call attention to yourself, pay attention to the other members!”
After the meeting, my friend (I’ll call him Bob) came up to me and said, “I really needed to hear that. From now on, networking will be different for me!”
The very next week, he came to the meeting early and paid for lunch for the entire group! Not only that, he brought 16 quality business referrals for our 62 members.
Remember… he had been a member for 17 months and had never received a business referral.
When networking you never know where your business leads will come from. He announced to the group that he needed a plumber. There was no plumber in the group, however I referred a plumber friend of mine to him. At the next meeting he announced that he had received his first business lead as a result of hiring my plumber and already closed the sale. The commissions from that one lead alone more than paid for the investment of time and money for those 17 months, plus lunches. The following week, he again bought everyone’s lunch and presented our networking group a check for membership in the amount of $480 for dues for a year in advance.
How many networkers do you know with that kind of commitment?
Networking is not only about building close business relationships, it’s about commitment, perseverance, loyalty, dedication to the cause, leadership and much more. People who are serious about business networking can receive nearly the equivalent of a college degree in business if their heart is in the right place. Personal growth is almost guaranteed.
Networking is also about making deposits and withdrawals. The deposits include our member’s time, energy, money and the giving of business referrals. The withdrawals are the close personal friendships we developed, favors from other members, and the hundreds of business referrals received from other members, to say nothing of the fun we all had at our quarterly “Social Connections!
In our second year together, we exchanged more than $2,000,000 in business referrals. Out group worked because everyone in the group was totally committed to it. The occasional member that wasn’t didn’t really fit in the group, quickly realized it and soon dropped out of the group. We held people accountable for bringing quality business referrals and they did. They did because they knew that was the only way they could ever make a withdrawal from the group!
If your networking group needs a swift kick in the pants… call me (480-205-3694). I will be happy to make some suggestions that actually work.
BONUS Articles: Does Your Networking Group Have a “Community” Presence?
Choosing a Networking Group – 5 plus articles
“Qualified” Referrals – The Currency of Successful Connections!
What to Do If Your Networking Group Isn’t Working for You!
Copyright © 2014 – Larry James. Adapted from Larry’s latest book, Ten Commitments of Networking: Creative Ways to Maximize Your Personal Connections! Larry James is a Professional Speaker, Author and Networking Coach. He presents networking seminars nationally and “Networking” coaching by telephone or one-on-one. Something NEW about Networking is posted on this Networking BLOG every 4th day! Visit Larry’s Networking Website at: “Networking HQ!”
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