Author: Greg Hewitt-Long – Computer Security Solutions

A common misconception of business people both new and experienced, is that every opportunity to go and meet people is a way to generate business leads.  That might be possible for some, but in our experience, it’s not practical to think this way all the time.

We think it’s important to always be marketing your business, and that any marketing opportunity might generate business.  Having said that, we actively attend a number of groups to market our business and they fall into two fairly distinct groups.  Networking opportunities at business before hours, business after hours, events held by business organizations such as Chambers of Commerce, the BBB or the SBDC and SBA, and Leads Groups.

A Leads or referral group is often a group of business professionals with membership, dues and regular meetings.  Often these are deliberately setup to be ‘non-compete’, so that there would only be say, one real estate professional, one HVAC person and one pet sitter in a group.  Membership of these groups entails passing leads or referrals within the group.  You may expect when joining one of these groups to meet and get to know the other members of the group and these types of groups may have ‘scoring metrics’ where a member is judged on the number of leads they pass, and perhaps the dollar value of the business generated.  Not all leads groups do this and not all are ‘non-compete’, but leads groups are very different to a networking group or networking opportunity.

Networking opportunities are everywhere.  You can even consider a trade show or industry event a networking event.  You might not generate business from those in your industry who might be considered your ‘competitors’, but if you have a tightly defined ‘niche’ within your industry, it’s possible that you might well generate business from your peers and competitors.  For example, a realtor might well choose to pass a lead to someone else if the seller is in a different geography, or a computer repair shop might pass a mac repair onto a specialist mac repair shop if they typically work only on Windows PCs.

But lets focus on Networking Groups.  TableTop Networking is a Networking Group by definition.  We expect to meet other people at TableTop Networking, to spread the word about our business, but maybe not to generate instant leads for business.  Our goal is to find people who might know others who might need our services, or to find strategic partners who might regularly come across potential clients.  The more we network, the more our name is in front of these business, the more likely business is to result from our networking activities. The key to a networking group is that your goal should be to meet other professionals and to learn about them, rather than generate instant business or be an instant source of leads.

Do we expect business from every networking group event?  Not really… but over time it can seem like we’re getting business every month from TableTop Networking

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