Networking/Getting Involved

or Register to post new content in the forum

26 RepliesJump to last post

 

Comments

  • Allowed HTML tags: <em> <strong> <blockquote> <br> <p>

Plain text

  • No HTML tags allowed.
  • Web page addresses and e-mail addresses turn into links automatically.
  • Lines and paragraphs break automatically.
Nov 18, 2008 12:21 pm

I am looking to fill up my schedule a little bit some networking stuff, just to meet people in the community.  I am not expecting a windfall of business at all, rather I would like to build up my contact list.


I used to do Chamber of Commerce stuff, but I'm mixed on it.  I felt it was a waste of time.


I don't want to do some corny networking thing where you have representatives from Mary Kay looking for referrals, which is what I got from a BNI thing I went to awhile ago.


Has anyone done Toastmasters?


Also, I have an idea that my good friend did.  He went to the city council meetings and took notes for about 5 weeks.  People began noticing him there at the meetings, so they asked why he was there.  He said, "Just looking to get involved".  He said with all the committees, there are always looking for help.  Anyways, he started helping out and eventually was put on the mayor's team for his re-election bid.  Needless to say, he has acquired a ton of contacts from this.


Anyone have other ideas that the masses aren't doing?

Nov 18, 2008 2:27 pm

I'm with you on the Chamber stuff.  Always feel like Mr. Cheese Nut at those kinds of thing.


A couple of my former AGE co-workers did the business networking thing, and had a reasonable degree of success with that.  From my perspective (outside looking in), that type of environment has a very finite lifespan.  It seems a year or two is the max, then everyone kind of loses interest, or you move beyond it.


On the civic gov't idea, a couple of my clients/friends (one CPA, one realtor) have gotten involved on the local planning committee, and they've been encouraging me to do the same.  They've said it's a great way to meet and network, without doing it on purpose.


My perspective on the political involvement/mayor's team thing....I served on the school board here for several terms up until 2 years ago, and I've come to the conclusion that it's a zero sum game.  The new contacts/prospects that you'll make will be equally offset by the current clients/prospects that you will tick off by being part of some decision that the board made which makes some people mad.  For the same reason, I don't put bumperstickers on my vehicles.
 
I would love to go through the Toastmasters, but we don't have a local rep.  I've heard good things about that.  One of my buds that went to EJ did the Dale Carnegie course, and came away with a ton of clients and contacts from that.
 
Final thought on the networking idea...I've found that doing something that I enjoy for the sake of the activity and the people involved is a much more effective way to "network" than trying to "network."  I've gotten more contacts and clients through going fast on two wheels or making noise at the shooting range, than at any networking event I've attended.
Nov 20, 2008 1:25 pm

i actually formed my own "peer group" about 6 months ago.  picked 4-5 people initially my own age and more or less the same demographic.  we have met monthy, shared our business models, and also added some hand selected people along the way.  we have a couple bankers, 2 attorneys, 2 realtors, p&c guy and a few business owners.  it has brought in a little business so far, nothing major, but it keeps me up to date on the local market i operate in.  we have just begun planning what EXACTLY we as a group hope to achieve from this organization.  i simply picked up the phone and called a few people to see if they were interested and it snowballed from there.

Nov 20, 2008 1:47 pm

Do things that you like to do.  If you play softball, a bunch of your teammates will end up clients.  If you get involved with a Board, some of the boardmembers will become clients.   Do things for the right reason.   Play softball because you like to play.  Join Toastmasters because you want to become a better speaker.

 
You will get clients from every organization in which you are a member.  The more involved that you become, the more clients that you will get...
 
But you still have to pick up the phone and call them!
 
Here's what I would do if I ever joined a BNI type group: 
1)After joining, meet with each member individually.  The goal is to make them a client. 
2) After meeting with every member individually, quit the group.
 
End result: The ones who become clients will keep giving you referrals.
The ones who didn't were never going to give you good referrals anyway.
You don't have to keep wasting your time at meetings.
Nov 20, 2008 2:40 pm

The BNI thing can be a double-edged sword.  But you also have to use it the best way possible.  I have found that I don't get many referrals, because many of the members are new business owners with obscure businesses, and don't really have many contacts.  Painters, skin care people, dog-walkers, landscapers, etc. 

 
But I spend a lot of time talking to three or four influential people in the group.  We go to a lot of networking events together, and we are cosntantly introducing each other to mutual business acquaintances.  So I have expanded my reach because of those people, but not directly because of BNI.  However, I would have never met these people, or stayed connected with them, without BNI.  This goes for all things.  The more often you see people, and if you LIKE being with these people, the more you will develop mutual relationships.  This is when referrals really start to happen (and not necessarily the "formal" BNI referrals).
 
But the time and money is worth it to me.  For the $400 or so a spend each year on BNI, and the 7:00 am meeting once per week (I would otherwise be sleeping), it's money well spent.  If I get a few good clients per year out of it, it's worth it.
Nov 20, 2008 4:47 pm

B24, Would you get the same thing out of BNI if you did what I suggested?

Nov 21, 2008 3:40 pm

Not sure, but I doubt it.  Out of site, out of mind.  I have only started to make inroads because I have been in it awhile, and people are now starting to trust me.  I don't think I would quit the group until I had a solid relationship with my core COI's outside of BNI.  I think I am a few years away on that.  


Also, it seems to me that most people in BNI would find that approach disingenuous, and may also latch onto whoever replaces me.  Not that I can IMAGINE them liking someone more than me, but hell, I never thought the S&P would drop 50% in a year.  

Nov 22, 2008 11:24 pm

I'm currently in a BNI group, and have been for about 18 months. I'm on the verge of quitting tho - my group is apathetic and seems dense about who's a good referral to me. The few referrals I've received have been extremely sporadic and I have to question if BNI is a good use of my time and energy. I put a LOT of energy into the group and I'm popular, but I don't look forward to going and I find myself thinking "Why should I bother telling them what specific referral I'm looking for this week? They never absorb what I say." The apathy of my group plus the beauracratic red-tape and BNI chicken-shiite rules and regulations make it distasteful to me right now (if you can't tell).

I've thought of joining Toastmasters as well because I enjoy speaking and would like to improve. However I felt I didn't have time for TM and BNI together. If I leave BNI I'll probably join a Rotary group or Toastmasters. I'd also like to do some regular volunteer work for Habitat for Humanity because I believe in what they do and I think it would be good exposure for myself and my business.

Speaking as a Loaned Executive for the United Way has been good exposure and has led to a few accounts. The nice thing about UW is that you can rub elbows with wealthy, respected members of your community. I've also done work for the UW in the campaign fund allocation role and that has led to a few SIMPLE accounts and some more business contacts.

To summarize, I'm down on BNI - it seems most of the chapters are full of home-based MLM businesses and blue collar tradesmen which aren't useful to me when I want to meet business-owners, wealthy individuals, and HR contacts. I agree with earlier posters who advise spending time doing what you're passionate about. Contacts will come naturally.

CR.

Nov 22, 2008 11:35 pm

Colorado, your HR comment made me remember something...I joined the local HRMSA or HRPSA or something like that many years ago as an allied member. Most of those groups will allow a certain amount of non HR professionals to join, as long as you're not a goon about it. I did those monthly meetings for a couple of years and got a few good contacts which turned into a few good clients. I let it go after the membership morphed into mostly lower-mid level clock punching benefits experts who all began to look strangely alike, and spent all their time before and after meetings talking about their cats.

Nov 23, 2008 7:49 am
B24:

Not sure, but I doubt it.  Out of site, out of mind.  I have only started to make inroads because I have been in it awhile, and people are now starting to trust me.  I don't think I would quit the group until I had a solid relationship with my core COI's outside of BNI.  I think I am a few years away on that.  


Also, it seems to me that most people in BNI would find that approach disingenuous, and may also latch onto whoever replaces me.  Not that I can IMAGINE them liking someone more than me, but hell, I never thought the S&P would drop 50% in a year.  

 
I'm not arguing with you because I don't know if I'm right.  I'm just trying to explore this idea a little more.   It wouldn't be "out of site, out of mind" for those who became clients of yours.   Lots of this comes from my belief that a good COI is going to be a client.  If they don't think highly enough of you to become your client, their best leads aren't going to you.  The people in the group who become your clients won't latch onto someone else.  The ones who don't become clients will, but it doesn't matter because the odds are that you wouldn't get much from them anyway.
Nov 23, 2008 7:52 am
ColoradoRep:

I'm currently in a BNI group, and have been for about 18 months. I'm on the verge of quitting tho - my group is apathetic and seems dense about who's a good referral to me. The few referrals I've received have been extremely sporadic and I have to question if BNI is a good use of my time and energy. I put a LOT of energy into the group and I'm popular, but I don't look forward to going and I find myself thinking "Why should I bother telling them what specific referral I'm looking for this week? They never absorb what I say." The apathy of my group plus the beauracratic red-tape and BNI chicken-shiite rules and regulations make it distasteful to me right now (if you can't tell).

I've thought of joining Toastmasters as well because I enjoy speaking and would like to improve. However I felt I didn't have time for TM and BNI together. If I leave BNI I'll probably join a Rotary group or Toastmasters. I'd also like to do some regular volunteer work for Habitat for Humanity because I believe in what they do and I think it would be good exposure for myself and my business.

Speaking as a Loaned Executive for the United Way has been good exposure and has led to a few accounts. The nice thing about UW is that you can rub elbows with wealthy, respected members of your community. I've also done work for the UW in the campaign fund allocation role and that has led to a few SIMPLE accounts and some more business contacts.

To summarize, I'm down on BNI - it seems most of the chapters are full of home-based MLM businesses and blue collar tradesmen which aren't useful to me when I want to meet business-owners, wealthy individuals, and HR contacts. I agree with earlier posters who advise spending time doing what you're passionate about. Contacts will come naturally.

CR.

 
CR,
 
How many people are in your group?  How many of these are your clients?  How many people in the group did you try to make clients?
Nov 23, 2008 8:49 am

I'm was a founding member of a BNI chapter which i am still a member of, after 4 years. We have 3 attorneys, (different specialties), including an Estate Planning Att, a CPA who is a partner in a large firm, a banker, a business broker, a real estate guy (residential), an insurance guy (life-also does VA's which doesnt bother me, i dont talk about VA's in the group) and others total about 19 members.
Some of the members have become my clients, but i dont have one substantial client who is a referral from the group. I have a few clients but nobody with serious assets.
I have been wrestling with this for a while, thinking of quitting the group but not wanting to give up the spot.  Part of it is my fault. I havent been doing as many one on ones the last year. But generally, i cant figure it out. I am well liked, well respected, the one person who is my client who is still in the group has given me glowing testimonials. But i dont get referrals.
My membership is coming up in Feb and I'll probably drop it. The reason i have stayed so long, is that i like the members, our meetings are informal and we have some pretty funny members, so i enjoy the camraderie, but need to focus on why i am there.
Toastmasters is probably a better use of time because you learn something,, and if business comes, it comes but if not, you still got somethign out of it.
I have been to one or two toastmaster groups but havent found one that i am comfortable with - a lot of wierdos

Nov 23, 2008 11:36 am
Sportsfreakbob:

Some of the members have become my clients, but i dont have one substantial client who is a referral from the group. I have a few clients but nobody with serious assets.

 
How many referrals have you made to the other members?
Nov 23, 2008 11:57 am
etj4588:
Sportsfreakbob:

Some of the members have become my clients, but i dont have one substantial client who is a referral from the group. I have a few clients but nobody with serious assets.

 
How many referrals have you made to the other members?



Quite a few actually - over the years i have lost track, but in the last 3 weeks i've given two, this year, in addition to that, i've given 4 referrals to one guy in particular. I have NOT  found an opportunity to give anything to the CPA in the group, because of the nature of his practice. So thats been an issue for  me, but it doesnt seem to be an issue for him. He's given me a few referrals to businesses for retirement plans, but prefers that he do the follow up after the first meeting, and as a result i havent been able to close any of them.

One problem i have with BNI is this - they want as many members as possible - so they insist that the investment person (like us) be an investment person - so they have a separate member who does mortgages, insurance, business lending, etc. I dont get the opportunity to get up and talk about the whole wealth management process.

Nov 23, 2008 9:54 pm
2wheeledbeemer:

Colorado, your HR comment made me remember something...I joined the local HRMSA or HRPSA or something like that many years ago as an allied member. Most of those groups will allow a certain amount of non HR professionals to join, as long as you're not a goon about it. I did those monthly meetings for a couple of years and got a few good contacts which turned into a few good clients. I let it go after the membership morphed into mostly lower-mid level clock punching benefits experts who all began to look strangely alike, and spent all their time before and after meetings talking about their cats.



Heh, thanks 2WB. Well if I go to the local SHRM chapter (http://www.shrm.org/), I'll watch out for the cat-people. Thanks for the tip about SHRM - I haven't been yet as I figured it would be inundated with other FA's like me.

CR

Nov 23, 2008 10:10 pm
anonymous:
CR,
 
How many people are in your group?  How many of these are your clients?  How many people in the group did you try to make clients?



Anon,

Our chapter floats at 21-24 members. Right now 11 are clients, 9 are not. Of those 9, one is married to an FA, one is new to the group and wants to have her husband meet me, one is a Farmer's agent (Series 6 licensed), one has been clear that he has loyalty to an old FA acquaintance, 3 are broke, and 2 are fairly new but have indicated they want to sit down with me.

So I've been successful at converting the chapter members to clients which is nice, but they are not the referral stream I expect for the time and energy I've committed.

I'm the most professional member - we have no doctors, dentists, or attorneys. There is a banker, but aside from him and the internet marketing guy no one else is really 'white collar'. I suspect it's the makeup of our group that is the root cause of me not getting quality referrals. (Surely it's not moi! )

I may call our regional BNI grand poobah to ask if there are any chapters forming that need FA's. I suspect there will not be.

Any wise thoughts out there?

CR

Nov 23, 2008 10:19 pm
ColoradoRep:
2wheeledbeemer:

Colorado, your HR comment made me remember something...I joined the local HRMSA or HRPSA or something like that many years ago as an allied member. Most of those groups will allow a certain amount of non HR professionals to join, as long as you're not a goon about it. I did those monthly meetings for a couple of years and got a few good contacts which turned into a few good clients. I let it go after the membership morphed into mostly lower-mid level clock punching benefits experts who all began to look strangely alike, and spent all their time before and after meetings talking about their cats.

Heh, thanks 2WB. Well if I go to the local SHRM chapter (http://www.shrm.org/), I'll watch out for the cat-people. Thanks for the tip about SHRM - I haven't been yet as I figured it would be inundated with other FA's like me. CR





One more thought on the SHRM (thanks for the memory jog) thing. The way I broke into that was by doing the 'do you ever need a speaker?' approach. They were interested in learning about the different retirement plan structures, etc., and latched on to me after I came and was the featured speaker at one of their lunch meetings. You might try that...find some arcane point about retirement plans that most civilians don't know/understand, and ride in as the expert. Worked for me.

Nov 23, 2008 10:31 pm

Thanks 2WheeledBeemer, that's a good idea. I just checked out the local SHRM chapter and noted the president's email address. I'll contact him/her and ask him/her out to lunch or coffee. I'll post back here how things go.

CR.

Nov 24, 2008 10:00 am
anonymous:
B24:

Not sure, but I doubt it.  Out of site, out of mind.  I have only started to make inroads because I have been in it awhile, and people are now starting to trust me.  I don't think I would quit the group until I had a solid relationship with my core COI's outside of BNI.  I think I am a few years away on that.  


Also, it seems to me that most people in BNI would find that approach disingenuous, and may also latch onto whoever replaces me.  Not that I can IMAGINE them liking someone more than me, but hell, I never thought the S&P would drop 50% in a year.  

 
I'm not arguing with you because I don't know if I'm right.  I'm just trying to explore this idea a little more.   It wouldn't be "out of site, out of mind" for those who became clients of yours.   Lots of this comes from my belief that a good COI is going to be a client.  If they don't think highly enough of you to become your client, their best leads aren't going to you.  The people in the group who become your clients won't latch onto someone else.  The ones who don't become clients will, but it doesn't matter because the odds are that you wouldn't get much from them anyway.
 
Anon, I don't disagree.  It's more a matter of how long it takes to make those people clients.  People that are "loyal" to BNI often take longer to warm up to you.  But you are right, if you end up making some good COI's clients, then you don't need to worry about BNI anymore, as those are the only one's that would give you "real" referrals anyway. 
 
I get the occassional referral from some of the "other" members, but they usually end up being deadbeats, young, broker, etc.  To be honest, I would be happy with a referral group including just my COI's.
Nov 24, 2008 12:58 pm
B24:
anonymous:
B24:

Not sure, but I doubt it.  Out of site, out of mind.  I have only started to make inroads because I have been in it awhile, and people are now starting to trust me.  I don't think I would quit the group until I had a solid relationship with my core COI's outside of BNI.  I think I am a few years away on that.  


Also, it seems to me that most people in BNI would find that approach disingenuous, and may also latch onto whoever replaces me.  Not that I can IMAGINE them liking someone more than me, but hell, I never thought the S&P would drop 50% in a year.  

 
I'm not arguing with you because I don't know if I'm right.  I'm just trying to explore this idea a little more.   It wouldn't be "out of site, out of mind" for those who became clients of yours.   Lots of this comes from my belief that a good COI is going to be a client.  If they don't think highly enough of you to become your client, their best leads aren't going to you.  The people in the group who become your clients won't latch onto someone else.  The ones who don't become clients will, but it doesn't matter because the odds are that you wouldn't get much from them anyway.
 
Anon, I don't disagree.  It's more a matter of how long it takes to make those people clients.  People that are "loyal" to BNI often take longer to warm up to you.  But you are right, if you end up making some good COI's clients, then you don't need to worry about BNI anymore, as those are the only one's that would give you "real" referrals anyway. 
 
I get the occassional referral from some of the "other" members, but they usually end up being deadbeats, young, broker, etc.  To be honest, I would be happy with a referral group including just my COI's.
 
Two words:  Power Team.