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Associations, Networks and Forums

Discussion in 'General Business Forum:' started by mrleesimpson, Oct 20, 2008.

  1. mrleesimpson

    mrleesimpson Guest

    Is anyone a member of any business or industry specific associations or networking forums?

    A new northeast one called a:design association has just been launched here in the North East and for some reason its £300 per/annum to join!

    Now call me cynical but these just seem like massive money spinners for the owner/organisers and hard work for members whether it be industry specific or one for general business owners. This might seem like a bit of a rant but surely as a business speading £300+ per year on this kind of activity is money not well spent if I'm going along and directly competing with the other people there.

    I suppose in one respect charging members to joins means a certain amount of quality control in the businesses they accept and obviously theres costs involved, but there must be a more enterprising way to run this that doesn't involve silly costs.

    Anyon got any thoughts on this?
  2. red tiger

    red tiger Member

    Agreed - some firms have the 'right' to charge top dollar for what being part of their organisation means, but effectively paying over-the-odds to show a badge on your website somewhere is a bit far fetched, organisations such as a:da need to not just qualify members, but constantly assess their abilities and standards.
  3. My business has tried all sorts of business networking in the past. To me they are crucial for meeting potential clients, but I agree the ones that charge can make it difficult to justify. I was a member of the BNI for quite a while - US idea of power breakfasts, with networking and presentation opportunities. The early starts were hard, but got quite a few business refferals from other members initially. But as they are groups that don't have big turn-overs of members the leads dried up.

    In Liverpool there are a couple of 'creative' industries groups - again good for networking - but often with competitors. Worth joining them though for collaborative work and we have met some really interesting businesses.
  4. ihussey

    ihussey Junior Member

    I tried the free business breakfasts with BNI but the cost of £500 a year was way too much and I don't fancy getting up!

    I have alos seen lots of free organisations like but I seeing its free and the code of conduct is volantry it seems a waste of time. Of course I build industry standards sites but I have noticed alot of ukwda members producing apauling sites that is why I won't associate myself with them.

    At the moment I will just stick to this forum! Its free and has some good info and a chance to rant
  5. Greg

    Greg Active Member

    I totally agree, although never having done the BNI thing myself, the signage company I used to work for years back used to be members, and when we was really busy it just became a complete inconvenience to go along. Seemed the same for a few members as they were constantly making excuses and trying to find replacements to do their pitch/speech. I've never understood the theory of joining something like that and following their 'code of conduct' in that you must use the other members' services? Surely limiting yourself to specific companies for products/services in that way could limit your business?

    I had the very same feeling for the UKWDA, think I actually signed up way back when I started freelancing, but having seen their logo appearing on some appauling sites have since realized it's not a very significant statement, to be a member of.
  6. berry

    berry Active Member

    I went to the launch night at the Baltic, what a waste of time and money. I gave Morag an ear bashing the next day as loads of people as what the hell it was all about. The communication literature and the event absolutey confused everyone about what, who or why this was all about. Now call me old fashioned but if a 'design association' can't communicate it's intentions or message through its own design literature then somethings arse about face. In a nutshell they want £350 for companies to join to form a cliche little club that is up it's own rear end. They want to improve the standard of creativity and promote the North East etc etc. Another quango that will have a meeting about a meeting and then have a meeting about designing a leaflet to tell people about the meeting about the meeting that was met to agree about arranging a meeting about the meeting that was postponed because the meeting clashed with a another meeting.
    Been through all this before with Creative Circle and Nepa Council etc. Never works because we're all after the same slice of cake.
  7. mrleesimpson

    mrleesimpson Guest

    Haha! This made my day.

    I had some guy yesterday telling me that the North East needed more of these events. This is exactly the reason I stopped going to networking events.
  8. There are definately loads of 'professional networkers' in Liverpool - people who run these groups and can be seen at absolutely every event.
  9. Networking - a good news story

    I went to one of the many free networking events in Merseyside earlier this week. The actual presentation was interesting (one of the regions top PR companies explaining the importance of publicity awareness) and there seemed to be a good mixture of people and businesses in the room.

    And also they had 2 guest speakers - local businesses giving their pitch to the room. Which I discovered anyone could do - popping a business card in a box gave a chance of talking at the next event. The good news is mine came out - so have a presentation slot in January to a couple of hundred folk!
  10. Greg

    Greg Active Member

    Sounds good David, any idea what your topic will be for the presentation? Or is it purely a pitch of your business? Have you done anything like this before?
  11. It's pretty much a straight pitch for business - but I think the best pitches are those that are targetted / themed. So I'm going to concentrate on explaining / demonstrating why other businesses should use a professional photographer. Above and beyond making pretty pictures, things like public liability insurance, correct image licencing, advantages over using stock, having equipment backups will be mentioned. Throw in some good and bad examples and hopefully that's about it.

    I've done quite a few of these presentations before - I mention the BNI above - also I used to do a bit of part-time lecturing at a University.
  12. MikeM

    MikeM Junior Member

    I the defence of BNI (I'm a very active member of a local group) the "code of conduct" (code of ethics) doesn't say a thing about you having to use the services of other members - although this seems to be a common misconception among people I've spoken to who were once considering joining.

    The idea is that once you get to know the other members in the group, you'll likely be more inclined to use their services, either because of the convenience or because of the personal relationship you've developed with that person - but by no means is there a requirement to do so.

    To be fair, however, the experience can be a mixed one depending on which group you're in - if anyone tells you their group forces you to use only the members' services, it'll be because the members themselves have generated that culture, it's not part of the "rules", isn't necessarily encouraged by BNI, and certainly isn't the same in every group (not in mine at least).

    I can understand some people being put off by BNI, the concept and the format is quite americanized, and in some groups perhaps too formal; plus for some people the idea of getting up that early in the morning is an alien concept - but I think if you' approach it the right way, and are lucky to find yourself in a good group with people who actually go out and find business for you, then it can be a goldmine.

    I'm not being paid to write this... honest =P
  13. Greg

    Greg Active Member

    Thanks for that info Mike, it appears I may have been mislead about the code of conduct, I thought it was a very strange concept! Your reply makes a lot more sense :)

    Have you had a lot of success from being in the BNI yourself Mike?
  14. MikeM

    MikeM Junior Member

    I actually have, although I'm going to have to try not to gush too much about it!

    I would say it has probably been the best business decision I've made. Straight off the bat I had referrals and work from the group members themselves, and fulfilling those jobs helped to build my reputation up within the group very quickly, which has led to a lot of "external" referrals coming my way from the various outside contacts of different members.

    The biggest boost I've had from BNI was through meeting a woman who runs a business consultancy, who basically helps to 'set up' (planning, strategies, mentoring, marketing etc) half a dozen new businesses every month - and who is obviously in a great position to source web development work. She was previously using a pool of other companies to build sites for her clients, but after one particular job I did for her she has now switched to using me exclusively, and is pretty much single-handedly responsible for paying my bills!

    Personally I don't think this is all because of some magic "BNI Formula" - I think the sort of experiences I've had can be gained from any form of regular networking if approached correctly.

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