I’m Katherine, founder and owner of Pop Connect Networking with 23 groups in the Essex, Herts and London region – so far!
I recently asked my members what were the 5 biggest benefits of networking with Pop Connect. With over 250 members across our groups I was interested to see whether the answers were all about getting more referrals as might be expected when networking with some of the established national franchised networking groups. Surely the only reason to network is to get more business right? Why else would you pay your hard earned money to meet up once a month (or week in some groups) unless it is to make more money?
I am completely in agreement with the idea that networking should bring you more business but what else can membership based networking do for you and your business?
- Support and Encouragement
The biggest advantage of being a member of a networking group (from my members’ perspective) is support. When you work alone and have to make every decision from your pricing structure to new ideas, accounting to marketing, it is amazing to feel like you have a supportive community of other business owners around you. They can truly understand your challenges and celebrate your successes. You may well have friends or a partner who will do this but if they are employees they may not really get it like another business owner can. We use very busy social media groups to enhance the supportive effect between meetings so there really is support around the clock. Members feel encouraged by the feel of having a real team around them and a team of real experts in their field.
- Friendship and community
Yes it’s true – this came out as the number 2 benefit of being a member! When you are meeting up with your networking group on a regular basis you get to know people quite well and they really will often become your friends. Our latest fabulously fun Christmas social event was a good example of how closely members have bonded. Myself and many others who went through a challenging year personally have felt overwhelming love and friendship from people we network with. Like-minded people, empathic and kind make excellent friends. Of course our members are encouraged to meet up for one to ones outside the regular meetings, to get to know each other better and learn how best to help and support one another too.
- Inspiration and Ideas
The next bonus of belonging to a membership based networking group is gaining inspiration and ideas, often translating as guidance and advice. In a room full of entrepreneurs you are so often inspired and excited by someone’s presentation and suggestions. I am always feeling that “light-bulb moment” when I furiously scribble down something that has resonated or occurred to me as a result of what has been said. Many aspects of my own business have grown or been shaped by inspiration and guidance from my members. Our big and very busy Facebook group for members of all our groups has been incredibly useful for any members to run by ideas or ask for help, inspiration or opinions from 250+ members.
The more you network (effectively) the more contacts and connections you will make. But it is only worth belonging to or attending as many groups as you have time for in your business. If you don’t have time to follow up any potentially interesting or valuable connections, linking up on social media with other attendees after each meeting, taking note of their details or arranging a meet up then you aren’t making the most of your membership. It’s not just about that individual but also all their friends, family and further connections. If you connect effectively, engage and build relationships, more business opportunities will naturally follow.
- More Business & Growth
With all these extra connections, by building relationships and trust, by admitting your own vulnerability at times, allowing yourself to be seen as human and authentic, in the sense of networking I believe this is how you will best gain more business and grow. If you take on advice, listen to guidance, engage in other experts’ workshops your will be adding something really valuable to your business. You can learn how to sell better, market better, offer more and stand out in your uniqueness. You will gain confidence and belief in your service or product, feel more motivated and enthusiastic. With all this on your side watch your business flourish.