Our Chamber sponsors a monthly “connector” for our members. These connectors are held at various City businesses which provide refreshments and a great opportunities for networking and visiting with business friends.
Today’s connector was held at our local Servicemaster. A few months ago, Servicemaster moved to a new and much larger location, so this connector gave them an opportunity to showcase their new digs.
Coincidentally, the BNI chapter I’m a member of had a “guest day” today as well. Guest days are an opportunity to introduce prospective members to the concept of business networking. In our troubled national economy people are hungry for ways to effectively market their businesses, so we had 16 prospective members attend our introductory meeting.
In the beginning of our church startup, I tried traditional marketing methods: newspaper, direct mail, and other printed materials. I can say that they were, for the most part, a waste of money. Our phone directory advertisement got us one crank phone call in 12 months. Our $4000 direct mail attempt got us one set of church hoppers. Newspaper netted nothing but cost a lot.
But networking is another thing. It consistently creates connections with people who are interested in what we are doing. At the Servicemaster event a person walked up and asked, “Where does LifeSpring meet? And what is your service time? I need to find a church to attend.” That inquiry was entirely because of networking—not advertising.
Advertising is for the lazy and impatient. Networking is hard work and takes time to develop momentum, but once mature, it pays huge dividends and requires less energy to maintain. Advertising gives you the immediate impression that you are doing something for your business, but it requires constant infusion of cash in order to maintain. Networking is free.