Mark Lee talks with Dave Clarke about the benefits of open rather than closed networking.
I recently attended Netski 2011, which involved a group of people who run business networks sharing a chalet in the French Alps and skiing in between the networking. While there I caught up with Dave Clarke, CEO of NRG Business Networks. I have long been an advocate of NRG network meetings for accountants who do not favour traditional breakfast groups, so I took the opportunity to get Dave to explain his approach in detail.
ML: How would you sum up your approach to business networking?
DC: NRG is focused on the idea of relationships first, business second. We also suggest: “Connect, collaborate and grow.”
ML: Makes sense to me - no one is going to recommend an accountant they don’t know, like and trust. You have to build relationships before you can seriously expect to generate work from networking activities. How did you get into NRG?
DC: I discovered formal, organised networking groups about eight years ago. Most organised networking fell into two camps, open or closed. Open networking was very often little more than putting people in a room and letting them get on with it.
ML: I recently heard this described as “school disco” style networking. Few people have positive memories of such occasions from their teenage years.
DC: That’s right. Many business people are uncomfortable with this and get little value. It’s also a huge misconception that networking is about swapping business cards and talking briefly about the service you offer. This alone will not generate long-term business success, particularly for those who operate service-based businesses.
Mark Lee is Consultant Practice Editor of AccountingWEB and Chairman of the Tax Advice Network. His personal website and blog are at: http://www.BookMarkLee.co.uk Dave Clarke is CEO of NRG Business Networks and can be contacted via the NRG-networks.com website.