For years, I used to belong to those one-industry-rep-only “exclusive” networking groups. They were Chamber affiliated or independent groups, but built on the same basic model as BNI or Le Tip.
Sometimes, I struggle with the question of how well these types of groups work.
Did I get good business out of them? Absolutely – enough to justify my membership fees and then some.
My questions come because, inevitably, someone vetoes a new member because they feel they are competition. That’s because industry categories are either too narrowly defined (e.g. the banker who can only represent personal banking business while another one represents commercial banking) or too broadly defined (e.g. the chiropractor who has a massage therapist in the office and claims massage as part of the chiropractic category).
Also, if these groups are about relationship building, isn’t it naïve to believe if someone leaves the group, all their previous business with group members should end so that the new member in that category can get the business? How is that building relationships?
And what about the pressure that exists sometimes to abandon your previous business relationships (that may be long-standing and not have come from a networking group) in favor of giving that business to group members?
Do I believe that these groups can work and help build a business? Absolutely!
Do I think that the premise of them can be a bit naïve when faced with the realities of business in the real world? Absolutely!