Author Topic: Networking groups  (Read 1487 times)

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Raintree

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Networking groups
« on: September 22, 2013, 01:46:17 AM »
When I first began to work for myself, I joined some well-known networking groups, the point being to meet other up-and-coming professionals or small business owners and help each other grow our businesses by getting to know them, what they do, and referring business to each other down the road. You were encouraged to not only attend group events, but meet with each other one-on-one to get to know each other and develop a professional relationship that would help increase your contacts.

What I found usually happened instead, was that a flurry of people would want to meet with me, and when I got there they put on the heavy pressure for ME to use their services. Sure, it would be a nice gesture to do business with some of these people as part of finding out what they do and how well they do it, but the truth of the matter was I had no money as I was just starting out. I didn't want to have to say, "I have no money." And they were pretty persistent about it without ever offering to try out what *I* was offering. Everyone wanted to build my website, design my logo, do my financial planning, etc. Or they'd try to get me involved in some MLM scheme.

One financial person I sat down with wanted me to take out critical illness insurance on my parents. He asked how my parents were (fine); and proceeded to tell me why I needed criticial illness insurance. I declined that time, as I have all my insurance needs taken care of elsewhere, but thereafter he would phone me at work every couple of months, pretend to be friendly and find out how I was doing, and then he'd say, "How's your mom?" I HATED that as he'd never met my mom and I knew the next question was going to be about insurance. At first I felt as though I had to talk to him as he was in my networking group, but later (after I left that group) I finally just started ignoring his calls.

Isn't the idea of networking trying to get to know people so that you have a network of like-minded people to refer to? Instead I felt like a sales target and just quit going to these things.

Wondering if the way these people treated it was a breach of etiquette, and whether you all think it was a little obnoxious of that one guy to always ask "How's your mom?" and pretending to be familiar when really the conversation always steered to getting insurance out on her after that.

Is this what most networking groups are like or does anyone get anything positive out of them?

Ceallach

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Re: Networking groups
« Reply #1 on: September 22, 2013, 08:57:22 AM »
Sorry you had this experience.   In my experience it is the exact opposite - the groups I have been part of, the people genuinely want to spend time exchanging business ideas and providing support to each other.     

Having said that, I have been to less structured networking events which are exactly as you described - essentially just a giant sales pitch and chance to obtain business prospects.

If it were me I would be looking around more for a group that better meets your needs.  And yes, that guy was rude trying to pretend it was a personal relationship as part of an ongoing sales pitch.   But seeing as you know he is just giving you a sales pitch and you're not friends, why are you taking his calls? Treat him like any unwelcome sales call.
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Rigatoni

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Re: Networking groups
« Reply #2 on: September 22, 2013, 10:12:24 AM »
With the groups I'm involved in, I really have a range of the type of people you describe, and great people who just want to share business ideas.

I however don't have a problem going "Hey, I'm a startup and every spare dime I have goes into making this business get off the ground." or "That would be great when I can make the numbers go from red to black.  I'll let you know."  There's no shame in being financially committed to your business's bottom line.

Amara

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Re: Networking groups
« Reply #3 on: September 22, 2013, 01:17:55 PM »
When I started my own small business in the early 1990s, OP, I had the same experience as yours. I think I lasted six months, then stopped going or responding at all.

AstiTheWestie

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Re: Networking groups
« Reply #4 on: September 22, 2013, 04:02:25 PM »
I know what you mean. I have been in several, and they are either really good or really not-so-good. Right now, I am in none. And that is ok.

White Lotus

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Re: Networking groups
« Reply #5 on: September 22, 2013, 04:39:36 PM »
My experience with networking groups mirrors the OP's.  I wish I could find better as I work independently, but I didn't like being a pitch target, so I stopped doing those. 

Promise

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Re: Networking groups
« Reply #6 on: September 22, 2013, 06:55:08 PM »
That, unfortunately, is often what happens. What's worse is when they joined some mlm/direct sales scheme and then join legitimate networking groups. They are so pushy because that's how direct sale or mlm companies are. I wish I knew a better solution for you. I think when they approach you about you buying into their scheme (especially if they want you to join) is to say, "It's not in my best interest." or "No, I don't want to." Most people don't have a good response to these two.

Raintree

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Re: Networking groups
« Reply #7 on: September 22, 2013, 11:13:15 PM »
Good to hear there are some good networking groups out there. And glad to know it's not just me that found them not all they are cracked up to be. The day I stopped going to these stupid meetings I remember feeling so free....!

Ceallach

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Re: Networking groups
« Reply #8 on: October 07, 2013, 02:13:41 AM »
That, unfortunately, is often what happens. What's worse is when they joined some mlm/direct sales scheme and then join legitimate networking groups. They are so pushy because that's how direct sale or mlm companies are. I wish I knew a better solution for you. I think when they approach you about you buying into their scheme (especially if they want you to join) is to say, "It's not in my best interest." or "No, I don't want to." Most people don't have a good response to these two.

Oh goodness I detest it when that happens!   Because the MLM schemes are very big on convincing their participants that it's a "real job"and "real business" etc.   But quite frankly, it's not the same.     (And isn't that why people do it?  Because they are looking for something different to working 9-5?) so they join the networking groups, but the *only* thing they want to do is sell.  Not network or exchange ideas or offer support.   Just find people to buy things from them.   So they aren't adding any value to the group.   I know some lovely people in MLMs and a few (very few) it works for, but the challenges faced by a person doing any kind of MLM, party selling or such like are completely different to those faced by somebody working in a conventional business.  It would be like a mom and pop convenience store owner networking with the sales director of an IT firm - nothing to discuss or gain from each other. 

I love your suggested responses I will keep those in mind for future use!
"Nobody can do everything, but everybody can do something"