Monday, September 15, 2008

Catching Up - BNI in Charlotte

It has been too long since I have updated this blog and I felt it important to catch up a bit. I feel that the idea of keeping a city and its business people updated with information on regularly occurring and special networking events is an important one and I am dedicated to adding this information here. I would love your help as well, as you see events that may be of interest, please feel free to comment below.

BNI is one of my favorite organizations, and fortunately I have been able to continue my relationship with BNI in my new home in Charlotte North Carolina. This area has several great BNI groups, however, the one I belong to meets in Ballantyne on Thursdays. I personally invite you to attend at 7:15 each Thursday at the Prudential Realty building on Johnston Road in Torrington.

http://ballantynebni.blogspot.com

Saturday, January 07, 2006

Social Gatherings for Formal Groups

One thing that I always find interesting is that formal networking groups that meet regularly sometimes have issues getting the group to meet socially.

Just the other night my BNI group got together for a cocktail hour - and we usually meet at 7am - so a 5pm gathering was unusual and out of the ordinary - and just a little scary for an introvert like me not generally comfortable getting together in that kind of environment.

I was surprised that the event was well attended - about half the members showed up, even if for a little while to have a glass of wine and a bite to eat - and some great networking was done!

So it got me thinking... why was this successful and other times it has not been... One reason is location. The event was at the same place we have our regular meetings. No one could say they didn't know where it was. That location is centrally located - and that helped too. I heard several people coment that it was "on the way home." Another reason for the good turn out was the group president's reminders and emails. No one could forget.

But the number one reason is that it is a great group of people who have made it a habit, and part of their daily lives to support eachother. It is now natural to WANT to ge together and relax, chat and network. That is the sign of a healthy networking group.

And for me - the introvert... well this is a group of people that are now friends. And hanging out with friends is always a good thing.

Tuesday, November 29, 2005

Power Groups - Large Group Networking

My networking group, Brighton's Best has about 35 members now, and we average about 5 visitors or subs a week. A few years ago when there were 9 or 10 of us at any given meeting, it was easy to talk to everyone each week. It was easy to set up one-on-one meetings to get to know eachother--and it was easy to remember each member and their businesses when I met with a new client who was in need of additional services.

Now there are 35 of us!

And it is sometimes very difficult to meet, relate to, and trust each member--understand each of their businesses, and what kind of referrals would be best for them.

And so we took the concept of POWER GROUPS from BNI and we are really making them work for our group. The concept is simple: with so many people in the large group to get to know well enough to exchange referrals, by breaking into smaller groups for regular short group meetings we can better utilize our valuable time, and build rapport amongst other members. Newer members don't have to wait a whole year to get through the membership list to meet everyone personally, and the power groups, (grouped together based on like industies) can share news, ideas, support and assist eachother build their businesses.

This is an incredible way for our BNI group to become stronger from within. My power group (Group A) met today for the first time. We had 4 members able to attend, and I am very happy to write that it was a fantastic, productive meeting (first of many). Carrie is a powerhouse, with a ton of graphic design and artistic direction experience. She has an incredible talent and I am looking forward to working with her on as many projects as possible. Jim S. is a long time Brighton's Best member, and all-around great guy. He is amazing as a source of qualified referrals and as someone you can absolutely trust to take great care of anyone you refer to him. And Kevin - (a fairly new member and transfer from another BNI) --I really am glad we had the chance to get to know eachother better. Kevin is definetly THE MAN when it comes to credit card merchant services. I can't wait to be able to refer him to my clients and get credit for him saving them money on their card processing!



Our next power team meeting will be Tuesday January 10th at MacGregor's in Henrietta. Anyone from Brighton's Best is welcome to join in - But I am especially looking forward to seeing Eric, Alan, Kevin, Mike, Meg B., Carrie, and Jim S. there for another fun, informative and productive meeting.

- Until next time, I am available for networking, email me at mwier@biznetix.net

Meghan Wier

Saturday, November 05, 2005

The Rules - Business Networking

I wrote a little blog entry today about the rules and policies associated with membership in business networking groups. Specifically, the changes in policies in the business networking group BNI. If you would like to check this out, go to: http://meghanwier.blogspot.com/2005/11/business-networking-groups-rules.html

I want to right more on this soon - so stay tuned.

-Meghan Wier

Thursday, July 07, 2005

Home Base

The following is an excerpt from “Confessions of an Introvert - The Shy Girl’s Guide to Business Success” by Meghan Wier. Preorders of "Confessions of an Introvert" will be taken starting in September 2005. For more information, write to meghanwier@meghanwier.com .


FINDING A COMFORTABLE “HOME BASE” FOR NETWORKING

There are almost as many different ways to network as there are people. You may find that you like only one type, or you may like them all, and you will find vast differences between groups, even within chapters of the same organization. So, shop around for the best fit. This will be your “home base”—the place that you can feel most comfortable, on your own turf and meet with the most people at once.

Generally group networking they can be categorized into three types, formal, semi-formal, and informal.

Formal Networking Groups
Formal groups meet for the purpose of networking and sharing leads or referrals. Often these groups offer new friendships, support, and other important information about things going on in business or the community or advice. These groups generally require regular attendance, and dues. The benefit to a formal Networking Group is that you are able to build strong networks with the other members. You will see the same people each week/month and get to know them well. They may only allow one person per industry to be a member, so there is no competition. The downsides can include the time commitment, strict policies, and dues. I have found that the right formal group can make a huge difference in both my ability to increase my networking skills, but also to the growth of my business. These groups are a great source for referral business.

Semiformal
The Semiformal groups meet usually for education and also include some sort of networking element, such as a seminar, or discussion. There are many groups such as “Women in Communications” or the National Association of Women Business Owners, (NAWBO), or Alumni Associations fit into this category. These are great groups especially for networking within your industry, or amongst your peers. The downsides may include non-exclusivity in your industry, and a lack of referral business because others in the group do what you do, and the meetings don’t specifically call for referrals.

Informal Groups
Informal groups tend to create themselves, a mother’s group, a bunch of friends that get together for coffee, or buddies from school. These types of groups provide a great networking opportunity, especially if you pay attention. Your friends, family and co-workers all have information they need and information you want, sometime you just need to listen harder, and ask the right questions.

Informal groups are beneficial because leads and referrals come naturally, and the environment is very casual. But you may also have to work to keep the group going, as attendance generally isn’t required and the meetings unstructured. Expect that not everyone in the group will have the same agenda, and don’t be afraid to express your objectives for the group to keep it productive.

You may choose one type or multiple types of groups. The best way to find the place for you is to visit several different types of meetings, but choose based on your interests. Go to a “BNI” meeting, or a “West-siders” group. Many times these groups have a “visitor host” or greeting committee. Connect with these people immediately. I recommend also bringing a friend, especially an outgoing friend, or going to a meeting with someone who is already a member and who will introduce you to the other members, and answer any questions that you have.

No matter what kind of group, make sure it makes sense for you to be to there—your time is valuable, make it worth it! The agenda must fit your needs and the people in the group must have similar goals and interests.

(c) 2005 Meghan Wier

Wednesday, June 08, 2005

Networking Group Dynamics

My main networking group- the group I go to every week, and get the most business from ( apoint not to be taken lightly), is a large group of about 30 people. However, when we started, the group only had about 9 regular members.

We are business professionals from all over Rochester.

Over the last three years I have watch this group grow and grow - but it didn't happen over-night. And now, as a bigger group - one with interesting, well-connected people, we are continuously attracting others.

And the members are constantly inviting new contacts, because we are proup of our group... and want to share our networking success!

Each week I sit around this table of friends and wonder how I got here. I probably wouldn't have joined a big group. Having a small group at the start was important to me to be able to get to know the others, and feel comfortable with them. I see other people come in now--and some love the fact that the group is so big, and to others it is overwhelming. There are a lot of people to meet.

One of the great things about having been small - and now being big, is that we are still a very close group. Most of us have worked together now for at least 2 years, we trust eachother, and the testimonials from the other members. The group dynamic is strong, the group is friendly - and they are there to do business.

If you want to check us out...we meet Friday AM at 7 - Hawthorne's Restaurant, Rochester, NY.

BRIGTON'S BEST BNI - www.brightonsbest.com. If you are not in the area, and are looking for a networking group to join, check out the BNI main site at www.bni.com.

Meghan Wier
VP Business Development
BIZNETIX, Inc.
www.biznetix.net
www.meghanwier.com