There are many advantages to membership in a professional networking group. The most obvious one is simply ... More Business. This is worth every penny of membership all by itself.
The amount of additional business that can be gained from membership is quite surprising to a lot of people who are unfamiliar with how these groups work. Since this aspect is covered in detail in other parts of this information, we'll stick for the most part to the other advantages of these groups. Some of the other main advantages are:
Quality of Business
When you get a lead from someone in a networking group, you are getting information on a prospective customer who is usually ready to buy - Now.
These people are generally known to the person who gave you the referral, and so are much less likely to end up as bad accounts. This means a tremendous savings to you. Less time in acquiring the new customer, less cost for advertising, and better profits from the reduced percentage of uncollectable accounts.
These will also usually be people who are easier to deal with in the professional sense. They will know that you are reputable based on the recommendation of a mutual acquaintance, and will be more likely to deal with you on a basis of respect from the beginning of the transaction. This will allow you to more quickly develop rapport, and get on with your work in a speedier fashion.
By reducing the time and money required to gain new customers, you can focus more of your time on doing business and increasing profits. This means additional time for personal pursuits, time with your family and friends, and less worries about where the next job is coming from.
Also, by reducing risk and turnover time on jobs, you reduce overhead in the areas of advertising, stock, inefficient use of labor, and collection of bad debts.
Even if you have more business than you can handle now, the additional access to new customers helps to insure that you continue to keep work coming in and reduces the inevitable slow periods. It also allows you a wider range of jobs to choose from, letting you pick and choose among the more profitable types of work.
Getting to the "Out Of Reach" Customers
We all know of the accounts that we would love to get, but can't. Usually these involve people who are, for some reason, out of reach to most people. The number of people in a chapter makes it much more likely that you will be able to get the one thing that makes these customers suddenly accessible. A direct referral from someone they know and trust.
Jumpstarting a Slow Business
Often you find a business that provides truly good service, but is experiencing slow or no growth because of poor advertising or an oversupply of people in their line of work. Networking organizations can provide a good way to start to pick up the pace for that business.
More Business Options
Access to members in a wide range of fields gives you the ability to pursue additional areas of business. These can range from expansions of your current business to opening whole new businesses.
Opportunities for joint ventures and getting in early on new fields are greatly enhanced by surrounding yourself with people who know other fields and are willing to share information with you based on the trust that develops from your regular dealings.
Access To Quality Services
Because of the careful selection of people accepted for membership, you will find that you never want for access to the best services and products available in your area. If what you need can't be supplied by a member, there is a high degree of likelihood that a member can refer you to someone who can supply just about any thing you could need.
While it is certainly not required or universal, it is also not uncommon for members to offer discounts to other members. This is certainly more likely for the more active networkers who provide greater numbers of leads. People tend to make their appreciation for new business shown in tangible ways.
You not only grow your own business through participation, you help others to grow their businesses as well. This can be a tremendous source of satisfaction, especially when helping someone who is new in business. You also help the people you refer to other members, since you are directing them to quality businesses that can solve their problems and fill their needs without the hassles that can come with dealing with strangers.
You will speak for short periods at meetings. This experience can help to provide you with more confidence and skill for other times when you may be called on to speak at larger gatherings.
The networking skills you will be taught and the habits that you will form through active networking will be valuable assets for you in all your dealings, both professional and personal.
Becoming The Expert
You will become aware of a lot of things very early on, and will develop an awareness of business that will translate into a reputation as an expert, "the one to ask". Your advice will be sought, and seriously considered, by a lot of people as your knowledge and skills grow. Awareness of trends early on will insure that the information you share is timely and accurate.
Since you will be dealing with proven professionals, you will be able to recommend people with confidence that they will perform the work in a timely fashion and according to high standards of quality. Since the results of your recommendations reflect as much on yourself as the person you recommend, this will help to enhance your own reputation for dealing with integrity.
The ability to transfer from one chapter to another if you move provides much less uncertainty in moving a business. Also, if you change businesses and the one you go into is not already represented in your chapter, you have an immediate place as a known provider of quality service.
Chapter and Regional Directors are in a position that draws a fair amount of attention if they allow it, and this can lead to a certain amount of visibility as a business leader in your area. The combination of this with all the other factors listed here, can be a big stepping-stone to many things.
If you are helping someone increase their business, and they are helping you to do the same, there's a good chance that new friendships will develop along the way. And that's always a good thing.
There are other advantages to membership in this type of organisation, but they are small compared to the ones above.
If you're willing to learn the process of networking from people who are there to teach you and to help you along, and you're looking to increase your business, make new connections, and make new friends, you may want to consider a professional networking group as a great way to those goals.
ProfNet is a professional networking group with over 30 chapters throughout the US and expanding to international markets.
For information on a ProfNet chapter near you, or starting one of your own, contact Nancy Roebke at her email address today for more information.