By Kathy Bowersox, M.Ed., LPBC, LMEC

Although there are many marketing strategies for growing your business, small business owners get most of their business through word-of-mouth marketing.  In fact, when BusinessKnowHow.com ran a marketing survey a few years ago, the majority of respondents indicated that the marketing methods they were using included networking (68.8%) and referrals (54.3%). Another study reported in Forbes stated that 78 percent of startups say networking is vital to their entrepreneurial endeavors. One of the best ways to grow your business in this manner is through getting involved in formal business networking groups.

Networking groups can be a valuable tool for business owners looking to build relationships, generate referrals, and grow their businesses. However, not all networking groups are created equal!  There are a number of common complaints that people hate about networking groups, including:

  1. HIGH-PRESSURE SALES TACTICS:  Some business networking groups place a heavy emphasis on generating business referrals for other members every week, which can create a sense of pressure and obligation to refer business.  Referrals are an essential element of business networking groups, but the focus should be on building the relationships that will bring you consistent referrals and partnering with people to whom you can consistently refer.
  2. TOO MUCH EMPHASIS ON SOCIALIZING:  While networking groups can provide opportunities for socializing and building relationships, some people may find that there is not enough focus on business and professional development.  If you don’t spend any time focusing on each others’ businesses, you won’t be able to refer quality clients and referral partners to the others in the group.
  3. SAME OLD BORING AGENDA EVERY SINGLE MEETINGMost networking groups follow the same agenda every week that is, in reality, not designed for the group members, but for the visitors.  These agendas usually include each member sharing their elevator speech, which is a huge waste of time, since all group members already know each other and what each member does.  Not only is this kind of agenda boring, leading members to tune out, but also, it does not leave time for actually networking, where members are building their relationships and learning more about each others’ businesses on a deeper level.
  4. TOO MUCH DIVERSITY:  Most networking groups allow anyone with a pulse and a credit card to join and they do not vet members for suitability for the group based upon many factors, including length of time in business, success of business, type of business (lifestyle vs. full-time, MLM, or direct marketing). As a result, often, more established and successful business owners are not networking with their peers and are not getting the consistent referrals they need to grow.
  5. TOO MUCH FOCUS ON THE ORGANIZER:  Some networking groups may be overly focused on the organizer or leader (who is usually not a professional, but a volunteer who will rotate out in a few months), which can create a sense of the group being all about the organizer, instead of being focused on the members and growing their success.
  6. TIME COMMITMENT:  Most networking groups require a significant time commitment, with mandatory, frequent meetings and events, which can be challenging for busy entrepreneurs.  Quality of meetings is more important than quantity.
  7. LACK OF ENGAGEMENT:  Some networking groups may have a high turnover rate or a lack of engagement from members, which can limit the opportunities for building relationships and generating business referrals.  An active, dynamic group will grow your business the fastest.
  8. CONFLICT WITH MEMBERS OR LEADERSHIP:  Personal conflicts or disagreements with other members or leadership can make a networking group an uncomfortable or unwelcoming environment, leading members to leave.  Additionally, cliques are formed in many networking groups, leaving those outside the clique outside the action and feeling as if they are not fully part of the group, which also leads to members not being as engaged and often leaving those groups.
  9. POOR ORGANIZATION OR COMMUNICATION:  Some networking groups may have poor organization or communication, which can lead to confusion and frustration for members.  It is important that all members can stay connected, communicate, and refer easily between meetings.
  10. INADEQUATE TRAINING OR SUPPORT:  Some networking groups may not provide adequate training or support for members, which can lead to members not making full use of the opportunities in the group and limit the opportunities for professional development and growth.
  11. LACK OF TRANSPARENCY OR ACCOUNTABILITY:  Some networking groups may lack transparency or accountability in their operations, which can create distrust among members and limit the opportunities for collaboration and referral generation.

Ultimately, these issues result in a lack of overall value for many networking groups.  Additionally, many of these groups provide no additional value outside of meetings.  If a networking group does not provide enough value in terms of business referrals, professional development opportunities, or connections, members may feel that their time and money are better spent elsewhere.  These are the reasons people leave networking groups!

Networking groups can be incredibly valuable for building professional relationships and generating business referrals, but they can also have many drawbacks.   Overall, people leave business networking groups when they feel that the group is not meeting their needs or expectations, whether in terms of value, time commitment, leadership, or organizational issues.  When considering joining a networking group, it's important to carefully evaluate its structure, goals, and culture to ensure that it aligns with your professional needs, values, business level, and goals.

Network In Action (NIA) was created to address these many issues that business owners hate about traditional networking groups and more.  NIA is not your grandmother’s networking!  Our groups are designed as business growth groups in which you have the opportunity to grow the success of your business through training, coaching, relationship building, masterminding, and of course networking and referrals with successful business owners who are looking to scale their growth. 

If you are looking for a networking group in which you won’t have the above problems and where you can network with grownups to grow your business, NIA Business Force is for you!  Our goal is to help you grow your business and make your life as easy as possible.  We are exclusive, in that we only offer invitations for membership to already successful businesses looking to scale.  If you would like to learn more about how we can help you grow, visit www.NIABusinessForce.com and apply to join today!

Kathy Bowersox, M.Ed., LPBC, LMEC                                                                                                                                                                713-899-8615

©NIABF 2023, All Rights Reserved                                                                                                                                       kathy@networkinaction.com 

I am a natural connector and networker and have been called the networking queen. I'm good at putting people at ease and finding out what they need in their business. I bring people together who need to know each other for greater success in their businesses and lives and I love doing that! I am an experienced coach, and talent management, and organizational development professional with experience in the oil & gas, technology, and many other industries. I have over 20 years of training, coaching, and consulting experience, both as a business owner and in the corporate arena—specializing in building talent management and leadership development programs. I hold an M.Ed. in Counseling Psychology from the University of Houston, and a B.S. in Psychology from Sam Houston State University, and studied Public Relations at Texas A&M University. I am a Licensed MasterMind Executive Coach, Career Coach, and I was the first Licensed Professional Business Coach in Houston, Texas, and was a founding member of the Professional Business Coaches Alliance. I have coached, consulted with, and trained thousands of people.