Lack of North East networking opportunities?

Discussion in 'North East' started by MikeBzr, Jun 17, 2008.

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  1. MikeBzr

    MikeBzr UKBF Newcomer Free Member

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    I'm posting this in the desperate hope that its "just me" - despite hunting around online for months now, I constantly find myself despairing at what seems to be a complete lack of worthwhile networking opportunities in the North East area.

    Granted, the NECC do run a few events, but they're extremely widespread into areas way outside where I want to concentrate my client base; Business Link don't seem to have a great deal going on up here in terms of events, and aside from those two there really doesn't seem to be anyone really doing anything comparable to other areas of the country.

    I really do hope that I've just had my head in the sand and theres some huge and thriving networking environment under my nose, so if anyone has any input or knows of any events or groups worth attending, then I'd be extremely grateful!
     
    Posted: Jun 17, 2008 By: MikeBzr Member since: Jun 16, 2008
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  2. The Printed Bag Shop

    The Printed Bag Shop UKBF Newcomer Free Member

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    Posted: Jun 17, 2008 By: The Printed Bag Shop Member since: Mar 13, 2007
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  3. MikeBzr

    MikeBzr UKBF Newcomer Free Member

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    Thanks for the response - I am actually a member of a local BNI chapter, best thing I ever did to be honest; although its not your more "traditional" networking event so to speak, more of a referral-powered business club.

    I have been along to one of the Contact25 Speed Networking events, and although its a cute concept, it turned out to be a waste of time, a sentiment shared by several of the other people I spoke to there. They've actually stopped doing them up here as it was franchise-led, and the girl who ran the Newcastle events threw in the towel.

    As for Bridge Club, I contacted them to arrange attendance to one of their events which I really wanted to go along to due to the particular guest speaker/interviewee they had, but after a little back and forth, they never got back to me.

    It is funny you mentioned those three, as they're pretty much the only ones I landed on originally.

    EDIT:- Just checked the Bridge Club site and it appears they've finally managed to pull things together both in terms of their site (which now enables you to register for events) and their membership procedure, so I may have to give it another shot with them. Thanks for the nudge back in their direction =)
     
    Last edited: Jun 17, 2008
    Posted: Jun 17, 2008 By: MikeBzr Member since: Jun 16, 2008
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  4. Blush

    Blush UKBF Newcomer Full Member

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    WIN is good but you have to be a woman:p
     
    Posted: Jun 18, 2008 By: Blush Member since: Mar 22, 2007
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  5. Blush

    Blush UKBF Newcomer Full Member

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    WIN is good but you have to be a woman:p
     
    Posted: Jun 18, 2008 By: Blush Member since: Mar 22, 2007
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  6. imp man

    imp man UKBF Regular Free Member

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    I also have been bemoaning the lack of networking opportunites. I have been in touch with BNI and found it a great organisation. I got in touch with the Bridge Club a few weeks ago and they said they were not taking any new members.

    I joined another networking group only to find I was one of only two members!
     
    Posted: Jun 20, 2008 By: imp man Member since: Nov 19, 2007
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  7. MikeBzr

    MikeBzr UKBF Newcomer Free Member

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    BNI are fantastic - which chapter have you joined, or have you not got that far yet? (by the way, anyone who might be interested in BNI please send me a PM and I could arrange for you to come along to a meeting as a visitor)

    They bloody better be! I have booked my place on one of their regular events in Newcastle for next tuesday through their site, and have had the confirmation e-mail and everything - maybe that would be a better way for you to give it a shot?

    Could you possibly say which, so we know who to avoid!!
     
    Posted: Jun 20, 2008 By: MikeBzr Member since: Jun 16, 2008
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  8. imp man

    imp man UKBF Regular Free Member

    130 4
    It's called NewcastleNetworks.co.uk. There's me and a travel agent. I must give him a ring sometime so we can network
     
    Posted: Jun 20, 2008 By: imp man Member since: Nov 19, 2007
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  9. MikeBzr

    MikeBzr UKBF Newcomer Free Member

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    Those must be really short events with just the two of you!
     
    Posted: Jun 20, 2008 By: MikeBzr Member since: Jun 16, 2008
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  10. UKDCraig

    UKDCraig UKBF Newcomer Free Member

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    Mike, I feel for you as I had the same problem when living in Durham - Never did find one really worth going to which was a shame. It's a bit different here in London!

    I'll drop a friend of mine a message to see if she's got any ideas though - last I heard from here she was in the same boat though. Best of luck with it.

    Craig
     
    Posted: Jun 20, 2008 By: UKDCraig Member since: Jun 12, 2008
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  11. ratso

    ratso UKBF Newcomer Free Member

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    I work hard and long hours and have to be in early to set up for my staff and never have time during the day for any of these meetings. Went to a BNI meeting and got the chance to speak though had to leave as it was a breakfast meeting. We also had no chance of joining as we would have conflicted with other businesses as you are only allowed one business type per chapter.
    Its a good idea but too bloody restrictive with some businesses that really have no place at this type of club. A bit like the masons I feel as it was all way too serious.

    I was part of a club ten years ago that was a great get together and networking was excellent with no restrictions on membership other than you had to be a business owner. The BNI has people who just work for the companies treating it as a sales platform, great but not for me at all as it smacks of first come lock out the opposition or travel, then we do so much I have not found one that would accept us.
     
    Posted: Jun 22, 2008 By: ratso Member since: Jun 22, 2008
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  12. MikeBzr

    MikeBzr UKBF Newcomer Free Member

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    I wouldn't go so far as to compare them to the masons; however I will agree that the setup simply doesn't work for certain types of businesses.

    The 'one representative from each profession' rule, I suppose, could be seen as either a boon or a bane - on the one hand, with referral-based networking you don't want to have to be competing for referrals with others from the same industry; on the other, if you don't have one single specific area of focus, then the 'overlap' with others in the group might post a problem to you.

    Still, that is something that can be worked around - for example in the chapter I'm part of, we have two plumbers - both provide general plumbing services as well as advanced heating solutions - so the two of them sat down and decided between them "okay, I'll cover solid fuel heating, you cover renewable energy etc etc" - so even though they do exactly the same thing, what they offer to the group differs.

    Same goes for one of our members who is a builder and another who is a kitchen/bathrooms specialist. The builder does install kitchens and bathrooms, but he leaves this out in order to focus on other areas he covers when discussing his business with the group.

    We have a few other instances of overlap - a mortgage advisor and a financial advisor; myself and a PR agency who offer web design as one of their services etc etc - but we manage to work around it. As I said, its not something that will work for everyone, and I guess a lot depends on which chapter you visit (in my opinion our chapter follows a formal structure in an informal manner if that makes sense - and is full of "farmers" rather than "hunters") - when it works, it works well, but when it doesn't it doesn't.

    On a seperate note regarding networking opportunities in general - I went along to 'Startups Live' last week, which was great (although a little limited from the networking POV) - I'm off to the Bridge Club tonight, and the NECC networking lunch tomorrow, so I'll be sure to post about how they go.

    Also, even though most of you reading this thread will probably already have seen it, check out the discussion about setting up an NE meet here
     
    Posted: Jun 24, 2008 By: MikeBzr Member since: Jun 16, 2008
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  13. ratso

    ratso UKBF Newcomer Free Member

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    I am wrong the Masons are not as closed a shop really.
    I cannot for the life of me see why any organisation has to close doors, at the end of the day I think we are all big enough to choose who we want to deal with, do we really need a dictorial view point saying Oh No you can only buy nails from the iron monger not from the nuts and bolts man.

    Time the BNI woke up to real life and brought businesses together not just in the name of intertrade. I went once and thought it a total waste of time other than the cheap breakfast. Yes I know some businesses that do very well from it, but then when you close your doors you close your minds. I lost a cutomer because he was intimidated by the members to go to a BNI member even though he was exceptionally happy and ended up with a pile of rubbish from the other supplier.

    What we need is an open platform run by people in business with open minds and not out just for a boys club or a meal time jolly. Plenty of advice and input with an aim to work together to find new ways to succeed.

    A great venu in the NE would be Ramside being just off the A1 and more or less central.

    Sorry one last thought. The members are not checked for quality standard of work so intertrade can in many cases be a bad thing. I prefer informed decission from a good choice of supplier not the one put in front of me.
     
    Posted: Jun 24, 2008 By: ratso Member since: Jun 22, 2008
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  14. MikeBzr

    MikeBzr UKBF Newcomer Free Member

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    I guess it comes down to your expectations vs your experiences. What you're describing is completely different to what I've experienced with BNI. I do agree that we need more 'open door' groups which are based on general open networking and business to business support (and indeed thats what the purpose of this thread was really to highlight), but thats a completely different kettle of fish to referral marketing/networking.

    When you think of it logically, the sort of guidelines BNI have are necessary for referral marketing, in my eyes - if you have a room full of estate agents, where are the referrals going to come from? If on the other hand you have one estate agent, one property developer, one mortgage advisor etc, then the opportunities for business are great.

    Other groups have tried and failed to replicate BNI without some of the guidelines and its clear to see why. Open networking and referral marketing are different beasts, requiring very different approaches.

    Your views are based on a partial visit to one meeting, and I'm just saddened that the chapter you went to left a bitter taste in your mouth - I can only speak for my own chapter in saying that from day one they've been nothing but friendly, welcoming and accomodating; but I do absolutely realise that the experience you've had may differ completely from the one I've had.

    One thing I did want to draw on though:

    This isn't actually correct - everyone submitting an application for membership has to provide references, and since you're seeing the same people every week, if anyone were providing poor service or standards or work then you'd hear about it and be able to either address it with that person, or simply stop providing referrals to them.

    Nobody forces anyone to do business with a single specific person, and all that BNI members do is provide introductions to potential customers; so its not like theres any removal of choice for those people.

    However, on the back of the need for more open networking/support groups - the NE meet being organised by a few people here that I linked to in my last post could potentially develop into such a group.
     
    Posted: Jun 24, 2008 By: MikeBzr Member since: Jun 16, 2008
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  15. ratso

    ratso UKBF Newcomer Free Member

    73 5
    Your right Mike a bit of a bitter taste, though more from the way things were done.
    I do fully understand refferal marketing, though the first time I came accross it was in Devon many many years ago, and it worked very well even though it was not a closed shop as the group was not from a small area and it was more a get together event with lots more going on.

    As I think I said in an earlier post I know a lot of sales people who have joined the BNI, not the business owners, just a good way to get business in their eyes. This I do think is wrong as the BNI was first established for small business owners. I dare say their bosses are quite happy though.

    Refferal marketing can still work with large groups even in the same industry as we have found being part of a number of groups from set industries, as inter trade becomes a great bonus. The networking works exceptionally well in these groups and it is amazing how many friends you make as you all understand what you are talking about.

    Why do I not like the BNI?
    Well not true I do as it works, though I do feel that if I do the same as the man who joined last week, as was the case for us, I should not be discounted and turned away. We have more than one business as most do today, we have web site development, SEO marketing, Printing, Corporate Gifts, Signs, Stationery, and a few others, Our instructions you can't mentions web sites, printing, stationery, signs or corporate gifts. We went down like a lead balloon when we talked about our business, five sets of toes who did not want us there. Our accountants are part of the same chapter, have we ever had any work off them, NO because as he said he is OBLIGED to first use a BNI member. His words not mine. When I first got asked to join I misheard and thought he said the BNP ... no havn't joind that one either

    I do hope we see the rise of a good group in the NE who want to build business relationships and have a good time meeting like minded people.
     
    Posted: Jun 24, 2008 By: ratso Member since: Jun 22, 2008
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  16. MikeBzr

    MikeBzr UKBF Newcomer Free Member

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    I think either I stuck lucky with my chapter, or you were unlucky with yours!!

    You are right in saying that the heart of the organisation should be small business owners, and I guess I'm fortunate in that my chapter consists of just that. I can certainly imagine it being a whole different dynamic in a chapter which contains sales people from larger companies.

    Personally I'm very excited by the prospect of a business group forming on the back of UKBF, so fingers crossed the meeting which is currently being planned goes well and we can build it from there.
     
    Posted: Jun 24, 2008 By: MikeBzr Member since: Jun 16, 2008
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  17. The Printed Bag Shop

    The Printed Bag Shop UKBF Newcomer Free Member

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    There is a networking event on in newcastle in july i think its the 7th i will find out more.
     
    Posted: Jun 24, 2008 By: The Printed Bag Shop Member since: Mar 13, 2007
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  18. MikeBzr

    MikeBzr UKBF Newcomer Free Member

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    Went along to the Bridge Club tonight and had quite a good time. Nice venue (although a little small when it came to sitting down for the guest speaker), very friendly host who made sure to come over, say hello, and introduce myself and other first-timers to other members; and the guest speaker herself was very interesting.

    In terms of networking it was relatively decent, although the fact that the main room was small and filled with tables and chairs made navigating around everyone a bit tricky. The event was scheduled to end at 8.30, which left approx 50 minutes after the guest speaker finished, however a lot of people disappeared at this point.

    All in all it was a decent night and I'll be sure to go back there in the future.
     
    Posted: Jun 25, 2008 By: MikeBzr Member since: Jun 16, 2008
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  19. The Printed Bag Shop

    The Printed Bag Shop UKBF Newcomer Free Member

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    Hi Mike ive always wondered what the Bridge Club was like.

    There is a business networking event on 9th July at the grosvenor in newcastle.

    If you would like the details please email me.
     
    Posted: Jun 25, 2008 By: The Printed Bag Shop Member since: Mar 13, 2007
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  20. Blush

    Blush UKBF Newcomer Full Member

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    9th July is my birthday:p How do you fit in all thees networking events though?
     
    Posted: Jun 28, 2008 By: Blush Member since: Mar 22, 2007
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