When you recognize that networking is a powerful way to grow your business, it only makes sense to then ask, “Where’s the most efficient place to network?” You want to focus your efforts and resources on the groups that are going to bring you the greatest return on your membership fee and, even more important, on the time you will be required to invest. Otherwise, your efforts are more like hunting big game with buckshot, and instead of producing results and growing your business, you are just being robbed of your valuable time and resources that would be better spent investing into your business.
When it comes to growing your business through networking, the adage "You can’t compare apples to oranges" simply does not apply. In fact, in order to get the most benefit for your business, it behooves you to make that comparison. Up to this point, there have really only been two options out there for business owners who want to grow their businesses through networking: Weekly networking meetings run by volunteers with meetings focused exclusively on impressing guests, or Chambers of Commerce run by non-profits.
Historically, those who value networking have had to settle for joining one of these groups in an attempt to grow their businesses, only to come face-to-face with the reality that these are broken models that don’t deliver as advertised. That’s the boat I was in, which is why I was so disenchanted with the whole idea of business networking in the first place. Although both options may include some networking, that is where all similarities to Network In Action end.
Chambers of Commerce
I used to work with thirty-seven different Chambers of Commerce and Better Business Bureaus across the country, and I got to know them very well. Chambers are non-profits that have one focus and one alone, which is to help grow the economy in a particular city or in a particular area of the city. In order to do that, they want to attract more big businesses to the area. They want universities and large corporations to set up shop, which brings jobs and millions of dollars in annual revenues. That’s who they want. But in order to fund that effort, they prop themselves up on the shoulders of small businesses like yours. They get a bunch of small businesses to pay $300-$400 a year with the perceived value being: If I join this organization, I’ll network and grow my business.