Are “lock out” meetings all they’re cracked up to be?

Are "lock out" meetings all they're cracked up to be?Just in case you’re not sure what I am referring to, these are business networking meetings where there is only one representative from a given type of business; for example only one accountant, one website designer, etc. They are usually referral networking groups where the focus is on generating business opportunities between the members.

Some of the benefits of such groups are as follows:

  • Focus is on referrals
  • No competition within the group – so there is exclusivity for business opportunities
  • Attendees are encouraged to attend regularly
  • Meetings are structured

However, there needs to be an element of caution and some of the following points should be considered before opting for one of these types of groups:

  • The business that has secured the solus slot may not be the best at what they do – they were just first past the door with the cheque!
  • The onus is on you to refer within the group which limits the flexibility to look at other suppliers which may be more cost effective or better value
  • It can be a costly investment with the obligation to attend every meeting. For example BNI is over £500 to join in the first year and then £10 (or more) every week – that’s at least a £1000 you need to recoup in profit before you break even.
  • There is pressure to find referrals for other businesses – sometimes it is hard enough just to generate leads for your business without having to think about others!

So – look before you leap and decide if this type of networking is the best for you. If you have had a less than savoury experience of such a group, please don’t let that put you off networking. There are many alternatives with differing styles around – so go and try them out as word of mouth referrals is still the strongest type of lead that you will receive for your business.