Offline Business Networking For An Online Business

Offline Business Networking For An Online Business


I just got back from my second ever BNI business networking event – My first since I started working online in fact – and have mixed feelings about it’s value to me personally. I attended as a guest of my accountant and definitely made some interesting contacts but would I consider signing up?

As of this moment no. There is a pitch at the end of these meetings and the costs are discussed and throughout the meeting testimonials are given and results of any leads generated are looked at. By and large all of the traditional business people I spoke to were gaining good business from their membership but they were also very interested in what digital marketing could do for them.

Business Networking or Digital Marketing – What’s the Best return ?

networkingIn my recent blog about Facebook advertising via promoted posts I talked about some results Stuart Ross of the Six Figure Mentors achieved with a £60 spend and what business he estimates he will eventually do from the leads gained – In the region of £20K. Granted Stu is an expert marketer but on these figures the cost of business networking with BNI (approx £900 p.a) doesn’t make sense. For a similar advertising spend he would eventually net £300K. Possibly more since he would tweak the copy and targeting in his original ad based on the initial results.   My account can attribute £37K of business to BNI – good but no contest.

Of course business networking isn’t all about pure lead generation on the day and digital marketing is becoming more and more face to face oriented so there are advantages to offline networking. People buy people and that’s easier to achieve in the real world than it is online. If I have people interested in starting an online business that I’ve recommended then we will be at least talking via Skype or the phone at some point.

Is Offline Networking For Me Then?

So who did I meet this morning that might be interested in what I do? Well quite a few people in fact. Including:  A guy who has just been made redundant from a good IT job and is about to start a micro brewery business (interesting for several reasons !) I met a lady who runs a dog behaviour business – this is one niche that Stuart Ross made a buck or two in. I also met a professional copywriter, a video marketing guy, various professional services people and a joiner.

The latter was useful initially because I need a joiner! The Brewer, the dog trainer and the copywriter all want to have 1 to 1 meetings to discuss digital marketing services and possibly additional income possibilities. So some people I can help and who can help me potentially. Not a bad morning’s work and home in the office by 9am. BNI is the earliest starting business networking group I’m aware of – but you do get breakfast.

“You’re an internet marketer ! What are you doing networking offline at 6.45am??”

business networking

On balance it was a good experience and potentially a profitable one. The snag for me though is that this particular networking organisation is quite a big commitment to make. You need to attend, need to find leads for others and of course need to pay quite chunky fees. A big part of me screams – “You’re an internet marketer ! What are you doing networking offline at 6.45am??” but if I was able to just pop along on occasion as with other networking groups I know I probably would.

Over the coming weeks I’ll be setting up a few meetings with the people I connected with today so will keep you posted on the results. I think many of them will be attracted to what digital marketing can do for them but I’m sure they’ll keep paying tose BNI fees as well – at least till they start marketing online.

Find out more about Stuart Ross and the Six Figure Mentors digital marketing training programme with a series of complimentary videos by clicking the link below.