Expectations and extra fees

Last week’s enewsletter offered some advice on joining a networking group. This week’s includes some additional things to consider: expectations and additional fees. Let’s hit the latter first.

Most networking organizations charge a membership fee. This fee typically covers the cost to be a part of the group, lock in your category, room fees, and general administrative fees. For some groups, like My Pinnacle Network, there is no other fee besides the $250 membership fee. Other groups will offer light breakfast/lunch and beverages and will charge additional dues. That can vary from group to group. But as part of your evaluation of a networking group, ask if there are additional fees so you can make a judgment based on a total investment.

The requirements or expectations can vary from group. Most will have attendance requirements. Some will want you to pass a certain amount of referrals or bring a certain number of guests. For a few groups, you can lose your seat if you do not make the quota for referrals or guests.

There are pros and cons to regulating membership seats. Attendance is kind of the no-brainer. You join a group, invest the money and your time, showing up shouldn’t be a question. If you don’t think you can make meetings, maybe a group that meets on a regular basis is not for you.

The guest and referral quota is another story. Again, pros and cons. You want everybody who joins the group to be all in and looking to pass business and help the group grow. Making those things a requirement of your membership can help. It can also detract from the quality of guest and referral if people’s sole motivation is to keep their seat.

At My Pinnacle Network, we’ve tried to simplify things. We have 12 meetings per year and members are expected to be at them. Does that mean you don’t schedule a vacation at a certain time of the month so you won’t miss a meeting? That would be nice, but it’s not the end of the world if you miss a meeting. If you are missing every other meeting, then it’s an issue.

In terms of leads/referrals and guests, we do want members to be actively looking for both. Leads and referrals should be passed as they happen, not because you have a meeting next week.

If you have never attended a My Pinnacle Network meeting, check out our August schedule below. If you’re a member and have questions, feel free to drop a line.

It takes two

Happy Palindrome Monday (7-17-17 backwards is also 7-17-17).

My Pinnacle Network allows guest two visits to a group before asking them to make a decision about joining. We do this for a couple of reasons.

First, we want people to be comfortable with our group and the members. Seeing people a second time certainly helps with that comfort level.  You might also hear things from people’s verbal brand the second time around that makes you think you could be a good referral source for them and vice versa.

Second, sometimes groups, just like people, have a bad day. Maybe several key members are out. Maybe it was a bad traffic day and people show up frazzled. A second visit can help you get a better take on if the group is always like this or was it a one-time thing.

Third, you get a chance to experience the group between meetings. With My Pinnacle Network, we circulate a spreadsheet after every meeting with the name and contact info of members and guests. This gives people a chance to reach out to fellow members and guests. If you commit to two meetings before making a decision, you get to see what follow up is like with the current members. Now, it will probably be a little different as a member. But if you are truly interested, you can start setting up one-on-ones right away to see if the group is a good fit for you.

Now, some seats in networking groups go faster than other, particularly for a niche like B2B. You may not have the luxury of a second meeting before making a second visit. So what then?

The answer to that will be different for everybody. We created My Pinnacle Network as a monthly group because most B2B folks are too busy to commit to a weekly meeting. So even though being a member requires you to be engaged, you don’t have to physically be at a meeting every week. So, your time commitment is reasonable.

Also, we also priced a My Pinnacle Network membership at a very reasonable $250 a year. This is so members could base their decision on the fit of the group more so than cost.

Does My Pinnacle Network fit into your schedule and budget? Drop a line to Steve Dubin at sdubin@mypinnaclenetwork.com to see if your category is open at any of our seven locations.

“If everybody jumped off the Brooklyn Bridge, would you?” Your mother or father probably said that or something similar when you wanted to do something that “everybody” was doing. Many small business owners jumped into social media for essentially the same reason and then wondered why it wasn’t working. The reason why was pretty simple…

Your website.

You might be wondering, “How can you make a claim like that without having seen our website?” Perhaps you’re right. Yet if your home page or whatever page you are driving traffic to does not encourage visitors to provide some contact info–name and e-mail address–or the means to collect that information–a sign-up form–then chances are it’s a fairly safe assumption. And that explains why your social media efforts are falling short.

Think of social media as a handshake. That typically happens at the beginning of a business relationship, right? Have you ever gotten any business based on the initial handshake? Probably not. If after the handshake and initial pleasantries the conversation doesn’t evolve to something of interest to the person you just met, chances are good they will move on to the next person. The same holds true with your social media.

If your social media merely draws people to your site without any direction, it really is like trying to close business with an introductory handshake. Yet if you take that handshake/social media and direct visitors to a download of an e-book or pdf that demonstrates your firm’s area of expertise, you have started a conversation that you can continue. Assuming that mechanism has at the very least captured a name and e-mail address, you can continue that conversation in any number of ways, including:

  • An auto responder campaign offering additional eBooks or pdfs
  • A sample of your monthly e-newsletter
  • Direct outreach by e-mail or phone

If you’re missing these elements on your website, the good news is that it’s a fairly easy fix–particularly if you have access to web designers and copywriters in your network (like those in My Pinnacle Network do). Most importantly, do not throw away the baby (your social media pages) with the bath water until you put those elements in place. Once you do have those things in place, track results on a quarterly basis to see if your social media posts are resulting in leads.

My Pinnacle Network recently announced a full slate of business-to-business networking meetings for July. My Pinnacle Network meetings are as follows:

My Pinnacle Network – Marshfield, Thursday, July 6, from 9 a.m. to 10:30 a.m., 165 Enterprise Drive, Marshfield, MA 02050

My Pinnacle Network – Westborough, Tuesday, July 11, from 8 a.m. – 9:30 a.m at Digital Federal Credit Union, 18 Lyman Street, Westborough, MA 01581.

My Pinnacle Network – Mansfield, Wednesday, July 12, from 8:30 a.m. to 10:00 a.m., 20 Cabot Blvd., Suite 300, Mansfield, MA 02048.

My Pinnacle Network – Needham/Newton, Thursday, July 13, 7:30 a.m. – 9 a.m. at Bullfinch Group, 160 Gould Street, Needham, MA 02494.

My Pinnacle Network – Plymouth (Real Estate), Thursday, July 13, from 7:30 a.m. to 9:00 a.m., Keller Williams training room, 91 Carver Road, Plymouth, MA  02360 (Ocean State Job Lot Plaza)

My Pinnacle Network – Braintree Third Thursday, Thursday, July 20, from 7:30 a.m. – 9 a.m. at 100 Grandview Road, 3rd Floor Conference Room, Braintree, MA 02184.

My Pinnacle Network – Bourne, Thursday, July 20, from 8:00 a.m. – 9:30 a.m., 550 MacArthur Blvd. (Route 28), Bourne, MA 02532.

Only one B2B professional will be selected for each category. Those categories can be found at bottom of http://www.mypinnaclenetwork.com. Prospective members are encouraged to attend a My Pinnacle Network meeting before committing to join.

If you are interested in attending a meeting in your area, please contact Steven V. Dubin at SDubin@MyPinnacleNetwork.com or 781-582-1061 to RSVP. There is no charge to visit a My Pinnacle Network meeting.

When we talk about how My Pinnacle Network is different than other networking groups, there several obvious reasons why that go beyond being a monthly group for B2B professionals. The not so obvious differences typically come in the form of observations from guests.

One of the most common things we hear is how members and guests get a chance to talk without interruption/gong/bell, etc. That’s not to say we don’t have to use a timing device when we have a large group. We let members and guests know how long they have to speak and most of our members have been doing the networking thing long enough to deliver their verbal brand in a timely fashion.

Another is our speakers. We ask that members who speak focus on an issue in their industry rather than do a commercial about their business. That lends to some very interesting topics (e.g. ransomware at this week’s MPN-Westborough meeting), typically followed by even more enlightening q&a session.

Back to our verbal brands, we do ask that members go about it a little differently than most networking groups. We ask for members to start with a thank you to members for any of the following: new business; lead/referral; introduction; or simply a one-on-one. Then members talk about how their business is different or better using a client example. But what has made meetings memorable for many centers on our themes.

Themes are a little extra thing we ask members and guests to add to their verbal brand. At this week’s meeting in Westborough, we ask for an example of where each business owner gave value. The beauty of these themes is that sometimes they grow a life of their own. Like at this meeting. One member thanked yours truly for an introduction to John Adams. That led to the next several verbal brands mentioning unique names they encountered in their travels:

  • Charlie Brown
  • John Paul Jones (who was from Iowa and got sea sick; long story)
  • Jack Rabbit

The point you hopefully see is that the conversations and discussions at a My Pinnacle Network are of an organic nature but with the framework of an organized meeting. Most visitors leave feeling they learned something.

All in all, that’s not a bad way to start your day and build your network.For more information, visit our website.

Last week, we shared a link to a column by Carol Roth entitled 65 Tips for Getting Business Referrals. Yours truly was number 58. If you did not read those, check it out. There’s one common theme that leaps off the page throughout the article:

Ask for the referral.

It’s simple enough. Yet how many times do we do it?

Do you have a client/customer who really appreciates your work? If you have been in business for any length of time, you should. Have you ever asked for a referral?

I know what you are thinking. You do quality work for a customer or client and that should speak for itself, right?

Maybe.

But think about your own busy work life. Think about how many things are on your plate. Is what’s front-of-mind with you to refer a vendor or better serve your own customers, business partners and staff? Even if you want to pass referrals, the latter often takes a backseat to the former. By taking the bull by the horns and asking for a referral, you are putting it front-of-mind for your customer/client. Nine times out of 10, it’s something your customers/clients have wanted to do, been meaning to do, but just haven’t gotten to it.

For the full article, click here to read 65 Tips for Getting Business Referrals.

One of the most popular pointers ever run in this space had to do with observing the habits and practices of the best networker you know. While that pointer was written with people in your business circles in mind, you could probably find the best networker you know in your personal life. Namely, your mother.

Think about when you were growing up. Who got you to all those practices, games, rehearsals, recitals, field trips, scout meetings, etc.? Was it Mom or Dad? Maybe, for the most part. But if you really think about it, Mom probably looked to her network for help.

Think about that for a second. Who was part of your parents’ network? How did they meet and where? For many, it probably involved having a child around the same age and involved in the same activity. Yet there were other folks in their network that might have come from other walks of life.

Being in business gives you something in common with virtually everybody you meet in b2b circles. The real task of networkers is finding that commonality beyond that where you can enjoy a mutually beneficial relationship. For Mom (or Dad), it probably started with an offer to drive and/or pickup. That goodwill gesture usually resulted in the other parent offering for the next time. From there, the connection organically grew.

This is not to suggest you develop car pools to networking events-though that’s not a terrible idea. But growing your network can be as simple as looking for commonality with others in the business world and making that first step of introduction.

They say it takes a village to raise a child. Your Mom probably knew that. Consider your business your child. Nurture it and be willing to accept the help of others in the village. Then, watch that child grow.

My Pinnacle Network has a full slate of networking meetings for b2b professionals:

My Pinnacle Network – Westborough, Tuesday, May 2, from 8 a.m. – 9:30 a.m at Digital Federal Credit Union, 18 Lyman Street, Westborough, MA 01581.

My Pinnacle Network – Mansfield, Wednesday, May 3, from 8:30 a.m. to 10:00 a.m., 20 Cabot Blvd., Suite 300, Mansfield, MA 02048.

My Pinnacle Network – Marshfield, Thursday, May 4, from 9 a.m. to 10:30 a.m., 165 Enterprise Drive, Marshfield, MA 02050.

My Pinnacle Network – Newton, Thursday, May 11, 7:30 a.m. – 9 a.m. at 160 Gould Street, Needham, MA 02494 (either in the conference room of the Bullfinch Group or the Cafe in the same building).

My Pinnacle Network – Braintree Third Thursday, Thursday, May 18, from 7:30 a.m. – 9 a.m. at 100 Grandview Road, 3rd Floor Conference Room, Braintree, MA 02184.

NEW TIME – My Pinnacle Network – Bourne, Thursday, May 18, from 8:00 a.m. – 9:30 a.m., 550 MacArthur Blvd. (Route 28), Bourne, MA 02532.

Photo of Steve Dubin, founder of b2b networking group My Pinnacle NetworkMy Pinnacle Network recently announced a full slate of business-to-business networking meetings for May. My Pinnacle Network meetings are as follows:

My Pinnacle Network – Westborough, Tuesday, May 2, from 8 a.m. – 9:30 a.m at Digital Federal Credit Union, 18 Lyman Street, Westborough, MA 01581.

My Pinnacle Network – Mansfield, Wednesday, May 3, from 8:30 a.m. to 10:00 a.m., 20 Cabot Blvd., Suite 300, Mansfield, MA 02048.

My Pinnacle Network – Marshfield, Thursday, May 4, from 9 a.m. to 10:30 a.m., 165 Enterprise Drive, Marshfield, MA 02050

My Pinnacle Network – Newton, Thursday, May 11, 7:30 a.m. – 9 a.m. at Social Restaurant at the Crown Plaza Hotel, 320 Washington Street, Newton, MA 02458. Social is on the ground floor; parking available at the hotel garage.

My Pinnacle Network – Braintree Third Thursday, Thursday, May 18, from 7:30 a.m. – 9 a.m. at 100 Grandview Road, 3rd Floor Conference Room, Braintree, MA 02184.

NEW TIME – My Pinnacle Network – Bourne, Thursday, May 18, from 8:00 a.m. – 9:30 a.m., 550 MacArthur Blvd. (Route 28), Bourne, MA 02532.

Only one B2B professional will be selected for each category. Those categories can be found at bottom of http://www.mypinnaclenetwork.com. Prospective members are encouraged to attend a My Pinnacle Network meeting before committing to join.

If you are interested in attending a meeting in your area, please contact Steven V. Dubin at SDubin@MyPinnacleNetwork.com or 781-582-1061 to RSVP. There is no charge to visit a My Pinnacle Network meeting.

In the real estate-related world, it is all about WHO you know. And we want to know YOU!

Starting in June, My Pinnacle Network will launch a Real Estate only group that will meet on the second Thursday in Plymouth. The first meeting is on Thursday, June 8, 7:30am to 9am at the Keller Williams training room, 91 Carver Road, Plymouth, MA (Exit 6, the Plaza includes such other illustrious tenants as Job Lot and Papa Gino’s).

The focus of this group is strictly professionals in the real estate industry. Some of those are b2c, which is why we created this special group. Membership is $250 for the year ($20.83 / month via PayPal recurring payment system).

To apply for membership, go to the Visit a Network page and fill out an application. Select “Plymouth” as the group you want to join. For a list of available categories, see list below:

Accountant
Advertising Agency
Advertising Specialties
Architect
Asbestos Removal
Bank
Beverage/Water Cooler Services
Bookkeeper
Cabinetry
CFO (for hire)
Chimney Sweep
Cleaning Services
Closets
Coffee
Contractor – Builder
Contractor – Remodeler
Custom Home Builder
Digital Media
Driveway/ Paving
Dry Basement
Electrical Contractor
Employee Benefits
Estate Sale Business
Fencing
Financial Planning
Financing – HECM
Financing – Private
Flooring
Fuel Provider
Furniture
General Contractor
Graphic Design
Handy Man Services
Hardscape/Mason
Home Inspection
Insulation Services
Insurance/Aflac
Insurance/Benefits
Insurance/P&C
Interior Design – Staging
Internet Services
Irrigation Services
IT Services
Landscape Contractor
Legal – business attorney
Legal – estate planning
Legal – real estate
Long Distance carriers
Marble & Granite
Mold Remediation
Mortgage broker
Mortgage – Reverse
Mover
Oil
Organizer
Painting Contractor
Payroll
Personal Project Manager
Pest Control
Plumbing/HVAC
Photographer
Printer
Property Management
Public Relations
Radon Remdeiation
RE Agent
RE Agent, Commercial
Retirement Consulting
Roofer
Security – Alarm Systems
Solar Design/Installation
SEO
Siding
Signage
Social Media
Storage
Title Search
Travel Agency
Tree Surgeon
Truck Rental
Waste Management
Web Development
Window Replacement