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  • Networking Events? Why Bother?

    Posted on February 23rd, 2011 Andy Parkes 1 comment

    I’ve tried to write this post three or four times and given up as I wasn’t really sure if I was getting my point across, thought I’d have another go at it!

    Vaughan Shayler from Accredit UK posted this on Twitter a while back

    Interested in comments on Alan Sugar’s opinion of networking – http://on.fb.me/fyfNDz

    The article is titled “My Message to Small Businesses for 2011

    I think the specific part Vaughan is referring to is,

    “Consider why you started your business. I assume it was that you have some experience or expertise in your field, and that is the big point – don’t rely upon anyone else. It’s going to be you who defines the way forward. I am sick and tired of hearing people asking what to do, going to networking meetings and seminars expecting to glean some gems of wisdom. These events are money-making exercises and benefit one party and one party only: the organiser.

    They have become an escape for people to justify sitting around wasting a day bullshitting with each other while they should be working. You will learn nothing other than that there are another load of people in the same boat as you.”

    From (http://www.facebook.com/notes/lord-sugar/my-message-to-small-businesses-for-2011/179399492080555)

    As a rallying call to a new business owner or an existing business owner who is losing momentum I can go along with it. It’s very easy to spend time and money on networking events that would be better spent in your business.

    But as a generalisation on networking events I disagree.

    While I can understand the point of view that there are networking events like this it isn’t true of all of them. Not all networking events are there as money making exercises and not all of them are there for the benefit of the organiser.

    I’m able to speak from experience since I’m involved in running AMITPRO. If we’re talking about cold hard cash every month I receive the princely sum of zero pounds, zero pence.

    If you wanted to look at it from a business perspective I actually lose money because I spend a chunk of time every month organising speakers, liaising with the venue, sending meeting invites, updating the website, etc which is time I could be charging to my customers.

    At the last meeting I donated a book to give away at the group. Now while the book wasn’t worth a vast sum of money it still came out of my pocket. Not the business or AMITPRO.

    Why? Because I felt like it would be a good thing to do

    Which is exactly how AMITPRO and tons of similar networking events run every week. Because it benefits everyone involved.

    So what prompted me to finally finish a post I’ve been trying to write since January?

    Two reasons

    Firstly, at the last AMITPRO meeting Matt Barton was stood in front of the room relating his experiences around marketing his business (he drove up from Exmouth by the way and other than a plate of sandwiches and a cup of tea he received nothing in return for doing this, but he did it because, you know  – it benefited the group!)

    As Matt finished his presentation and was taking questions there was lots of lively discussions going on around the room with people sharing their own experiences.

    The meeting wrapped up and while I was packing up the projector I noticed the room was still full of people having conversations and swapping ideas and it reminded me exactly why I and countless others help put together these events.

    This was also a room full of people I know I can rely on if I needed help with my business.

    Secondly, I’m a bit grumpy. I’ve been up since 5am as I was filling in for someone at BNI. Givers Gain and all that Winking smile

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    Andy Parkes is Technical Director at Coventry based IT support company IBIT Solutions. He is also Microsoft Partner Area Lead for 2012-2013 and coordinates AMITPRO which is a peer group for IT Professionals in the Midlands area. He also isn't a fan of describing himself in the third person.

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    One Response to “Networking Events? Why Bother?”

    1. Andy – couldn’t agree more. After having just read Lord Sugar’s biography, I’ve a great deal of respect for his incredible business accomplishments.

      It is clear to me that he takes the “old school” attitude of us -vs- the world though. Perhaps that’s how things are in the cut and thrust of multi-billion pound business.

      In comparison, those of us at the SMB level who embrace networking, building relationships and collaboration with others certainly do grow and thrive. This is despite the fact we’re fraternising with the “competition” 🙂

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