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I am sure you are aware of Breakfast Clubs. Regular early morning meetings of a group of people with mixed business interests. Oh, and some breakfast. Clubs operate so that only one person can occupy a particular business slot. So only one Accountant, one Mortgage Advisor etc.
The advantage of Breakfast clubs is that you get to educate a gclubslot tight knit group of people about your business, who then are out in the big world with your business in mind. You are doing the same for them. The disadvantage can be cost and a very early start. Sometimes a VERY early start.
I have met several people from various businesses who get all of there work from these clubs. That will certainly justify the cost if you are not advertising in any other way. But I would still recommend varying your marketing and networking. Certainly to start with.
I have experience of 3 main organizations, but they all have the same fundamental format with the main differences being in approach, style and cost. Some are very formal with very strict formats and rules and weekly meetings. To the other end of the scale with a more laid back approach and meetings every 2 weeks. Virtually all clubs allow visitors each week so you do get to “try before you buy”. And obviously costs vary. But remember you will only be able to visit if nobody is occupying that business slot as a member. Most of the organisations below are now International.
I personally use BoB clubs. I will leave you to make your own decision on the one that suits you. Look at the websites then visit some. Costs and meeting frequencies vary. As do the rules and styles of the organisations.
Breakfast Clubs require a long term commitment and best advantage is gained by attending all meetings. Once you have a slot then you will be the only person able to represent that type of business. With established clubs your business may already be taken, so a waiting list can be in place.
Members get a small slot each week to talk about their business and as you meet the people regularly you can go deeper into your business. Remember as well that each week there will probably be visitors to the club who may become members. They also get a small slot. For the first few meetings you would do a general talk, but then you may want to ask for something specific. So you might want to let people know about a special offer or a specific requirement.
Most clubs then have 10 minute presentation slot offered to a different business at each meeting. This gives you a chance to go deeper into your business and inform the other member in greater depth.
Next will probably be the exchange of any referrals. This is the bit that puts some people off this type of meetings. I have attended clubs where the pressure to give referrals and bring new members along has been quite intense. Some people thrive in that kind of environment, but a couple of visits to a club as a guest will generally give you a feel if that particular club is good for you. But pressure to give referrals can result in poor contacts. Just names and contacts put down to satisfy numbers.
I personally prefer a more laid back approach. Referrals are important, but a more relaxed way of doing it means better referrals. Also, as clubs develop, calls will come outside the club environment. It’s a great way to develop long term business relationships.
Some organizations also offer training and advice slots on how to get the best from networking. These are generally very useful and informative.
At the end of the meeting there are often opportunities to continue talking over a coffee. More networking.
I said at the beginning that Breakfast clubs work best with a long term commitment and you must bear that in mind. Go to every meeting to get best advantage. Some clubs are very strict on attendance, but will allow you to send a substitute. The main problem with that is with one man businesses like mine. A business opportunity or work commitment would have to take priority. Others clubs are more laid back about attendance.
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