We usually have no problem accommodating those who wish to join our clubs but sometimes, especially when we are concerned with the more popular business categories, it can be difficult to find an opportunity.
The whole point of exclusive referral networking is to ensure that the member’s position is protected and that he or she does not have to worry about competitors taking business from within the networking group itself. So we need to be very careful to ensure that we do not allow problems to arise by the ‘back door’.
Occasionally, a business owner may be particularly anxious to secure a place in a particular networking club and if their business sector has already been taken, that can result in an attempt to distance themselves from it and focus on other areas which may form part of their offering and which can be distinguished from the types of activity under review. This might be perfectly legitimate, especially if the products and services an individual deals with are wide ranging. It might be fine to have, for example, two solicitors, if one dealt exclusively with civil litigation and the other restricted him or herself to conveyancing. Or it might be that one person is regularly involved in completely separate activities, with two quite different areas of business. Increasingly, this is something we see nowadays as people find they need more than one string to their bow.
There are also times when a member may be entirely happy to admit someone from another business where there is some small degree of ‘crossover,’ as it may be possible for the two to exchange leads and mutually benefit from a close association.
We would have to exercise good judgement however where there is an attempt to describe goods or services by another name in order to try to join a club when someone else has beaten the applicant to the seat. Most people would not want this to happen anyway as it is likely to prove to nobody’s advantage. Where it is clear that a business provides mainly services which would result in a conflict of interest, it is incumbent on us to resist any approach based on an area of minor activity, especially as it could lead to difficulty and confusion for other members.