Think of all the people you know. They are your neighbors, business associates, service club comrades, church community, close friends, casual acquaintances, schoolmates, family friends, relatives ….I bet its a long list.
This is your life network. The relationship you have with most of these people is likely one of friendship, trust and respect.
Good business networks are much the same. They rely on trust and respect and occasionally friendships.
Over the years I have belonged to a number of networking groups, and virtually had success with each one. My personal business network grew and over time I moved on but I visited one of those groups a few months ago and was taken aback by the quality of the experience. TradeTalkers, one of The Brampton Board of Trade’s Brampton Business Networking groups (BBN), had evolved significantly from the forced referral approach in its infancy 10 years ago when I belonged. You know, the groups where you are forced to bring a referral every week or risk excommunication.
Building trust and respect in the group is important before members feel confident in referring your services to their friends and business associates. Once that happens, anything goes and it was refreshing to see people talk so openly about their business, warts and all, and equally fascinating was the group dynamic to coach and mentor, question and debate, and recommend solutions…complete with referrals. There was a sense of caring, but also ownership or the problems.
Oh, and by the way, the group has won the Gold award for Business Associations, in the Brampton Business Times Top Performers competition.
Big group hug for the networkers in TradeTalkers. Contact the Board of Trade if you are interested in joining one of these networking organizations. Phone: (905)451-1122.