Why Business Networking Groups Fail To Attract New Members on LinkedIn

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As a business owner I’m always on the lookout for new ways to promote my business and get my name out there. I’m a passionate believer in business networking because my fundamental belief is that business is won in most cases by word of mouth recommendation or referral. OK, I’ll stretch it a little because word of mouth also means by keystroke too as more and more of us take to the social networking airwaves.

Through a business contact I had the opportunity to take up a guest slot at a business networking group, a new one that competed with my regular business networking Blackburn chapter but hey, one doesn’t have to always remain with one group and I think it’s important to reach out continuously and meet new people.

First impressions count and when I walked through the door into the meeting I was greeted by… nobody! Great start. Being familiar with business networking I decided to jump in with both feet and I’m glad I did otherwise I think that I would have stood around drinking coffee ad nauseam.

The meeting started and we each did our 60 seconds which was interesting but what the interesting part of the meeting as far as I was concerned was the discussion which was about how to market the group. Great, I thought, right up my street, maybe I could give them a few pointers about how to build relationships on line – something that is core to the business services that I offer.

The discussion was lively and before a guest like me was “allowed” to contribute the group had already decided that the answer was to have a website. A classic case of jumping to a solution before actually defining the problem.

As soon as the word website was mentioned, the discussion then centered around a group member who wasn’t in attendance and by all accounts had only shown up 2 times in the last 6 months. When I did actually get to add my contribution to the discussion I suggested that they take a step back and identify what it was they wanted to achieve before jumping head-first into a website.

After all, there’s countless ways to build an on-line presence and new relationships without going to the expense of a website. Not only that, I my opinion, there’s only one thing worse than not having a web presence, and that’s having a website that is out of date. No mention of how the website was going to stay updated and who was going to do it.

Following my contribution the group leaders concluded that it was time to request the presence of the “guy who didn’t attend” and listen to what he had to say.

This said a couple of things:-

They were prepared to give business to someone who clearly was not supporting the group
No one had actually listened to my 60 seconds or my discussion contribution
Above all, it left me feeling completely alienated and not in any way sympathetic to joining on a full time basis. I’m going to go to the next meeting (again as a guest) firstly to see whether this other guy does actually turn up and secondly to hear what he’s got to say, after all, there’s no harm getting direct access to the sales pitch of one of your competitors is there?

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