It’s not about spoonfeeding

Sometimes, people seem to think that networking is a straightforward matter and that all they have to do is join a club and then all the business they want will miraculously flow from a magic fountain without them having to do anything at all other than pick up a note with the details on. Such people do not always see the need to do anything which might cause them marginal inconvenience, so they often don’t even bother to turn up for meetings either.

Unsurprisingly, they are the first to tell their club manager ‘its not working’ for them after a few months or perhaps even sooner than that. The answer they get is invariably the same: they’re not putting any effort in and aren’t showing any commitment to the group or to other individual members.

So how can anyone make the most of their membership? It is often said that a referral networking club membership is one of the most important items in the toolbox of any new small business. But what the member is buying is not a cache of hidden business leads which can be opened randomly and at will; rather it is the right to sit around the table with a group of other people and to have the opportunity to make that cache work for them. Of course the price includes a lot of other things connected with organisation, profile, management, marketing, publicity etc. but even this does not mean that the member can just sit back and expect it all to happen around him or her.

Any such club needs 100% commitment from its members. They need to turn up regularly (our attendance policy allows reasonable leeway for most sets of circumstances) and make sure they get to know their fellow members both at meetings and also by arranging one to one sessions outside the formal structure in order to promote mutual understanding in greater depth. Only from this will the level of trust necessary to ensure exchange of referrals to trusted contacts fully develop.

Come to every meeting armed with a lead to pass, a one to one to arrange or to talk about, or take along a visitor. Then everyone else will see how serious you are, will come to understand that you are reliable, professional and trustworthy and start seeing you as someone they would be happy to introduce to their family, friends and clients or customers.

It isn’t just the responsibility of the club manager and the committee to bring in guests and visitors but it is also a task which every single member must share in order to bring the highest possible level of success, not only for themselves but also for every one of their fellow members.