Who can join?
The qualifications are simple.
- You must be a legitimate business.
- You must be willing to invite guests regularly.
- You must be willing to participate in building business relationships with the others.
- Only one member from each business category is accepted.
- The members will invite guests in general; the guest may ask to join before a second meeting. If a guest has not decided after the first meeting, they may be invited back for a second visit. If the guest is interested they may submit an application for membership.
After the submission, the ‘Leadership’ will review the application based on the membership policy constraints.
The decision to accept a new member is made based on the potential positive influence the individual will have on the entire group. A member may not be rejected based on religion, political affiliation, or any other non-business related choices. An application will be immediately rejected if it is determined that the potential member wishes to use the meeting to campaign for their cause be it political, religious or non business related.
What is Bizlinks?
Bizlinks facilitates an organized business relationship building / business-networking atmosphere with the sole purpose of helping individuals with strong ethical convictions in business, expand their client base. Our focus is to bring like-minded professional business people together on a weekly face-to-face basis. We focus on building the business relationship, which results in ‘warm market referrals’ while building onto as well as gaining knowledge based on the experiences of the rest of the team of business members. We truly believe in building strong business relationships between our members resulting in extra efforts made to help each other in Business growth without the need to instate rules forcing referrals. Members are committed to actively maintaining ethics and standards of the highest order.
What is networking?
First and most important is the word itself. net-WORKING, it is NOT: net-SOCIALIZING, net-RELAXING or even net-PLAYING, it is WORK to be a successful networker. You will only get out of it what you put into it. If you work hard at networking it will work hard for you. In the business setting, networking is getting to know people and businesses, and developing trust and communication to make the process of business easier, more enjoyable and of course more profitable. This usually involves the exchange of “BUSINESS HELP” either in the form of “leads”, or referrals to potential customers, the sharing of valuable knowledge and experience between Business Professionals, practice your marketing minute in front of others, or in some cases just the camaraderie and exposure to other successful business people on a weekly basis are where the value lies. The advantages are huge for a skilled networker and learning to be one is not a difficult process. The basics of networking occur when you give someone referral or business help or receive a referral or business help from someone based on the relationship of trust that has been built between the two of you. That connection is a simple network. And that is, in the end, all that is involved in even the most sophisticated networks. People exchanging connections, or leads, based on the business relationship they have built over time to create mutual trust. As you learn to expand your network of associates, you will find this happening more and more often, until you finally have more business than you can handle.
Where does networking take place?
Networking can take place anywhere that two or more people get together. It is important to be aware of what is appropriate in the setting. Sometimes a direct approach is appropriate, other times it is more acceptable to simply ask a person what they do and ask them for a business card “in case I run into anyone who could use your services.” It is important to recognize that ‘breaking the ice’ is the most important first step to networking success.
Networking is the oldest form of business building and idea sharing known to man, anytime you run into someone you could help out with a referral or advice is the right time to network. It is important to remember that giving first is the starting point to a strong business relationship. In the case of passing a referral remember, there are three sides to it that need to be considered. Your side, as the person who is being trusted by both to arrange a good match. The customer’s side, since they trust you to get them someone to handle a problem for them. And of course the other businessperson’s side, since they are expecting that this customer will pay on time and not create more problems than the job is worth. Whenever you can pass a good referral, find out about another person’s business and ways you can help them, appropriately let another person know about your business, or simply make a new contact that could be a business acquaintance and/or friend, that’s when you network. Attending every weekly event is of the utmost importance. The advantage of attendance at every weekly meeting is that people simply don’t have the opportunity to forget what you do and what you are looking for. We have had inquiries into bi-weekly or monthly meetings and have flat out refused them as they can mean a lot of space in between exposure to the rest of your team, and that can mean that most people will just not remember you as clearly and quickly. This means less business for everyone involved. This will defeat the purpose of belonging to this organization.
Everyone networks. If you have ever recommended a business based on the quality of their work, a restaurant, a mechanic, or even a hairdresser, you have networked. Organized networking is another thing; anyone who is serious about his or her business should network. It doesn’t matter what profession you are in, networking is the key to business growth.
I already know a lot of people. Why network?
It is great to know a lot of people. Business networking allows you to take that to the next level. It helps you build your business and increase your profits by receiving more business with less advertising or other conventional and expensive marketing methods. Networking enables you to help other people who do quality work to build their business as well. Even if you have more work from referrals than you can handle, there are some very good reasons to network. It can help you to build greater long-term stability, enhance your reputation and help others in the process.
I don’t know many business people. How can I take advantage of networking?
Join organized networking groups such as Bizlinks, start introducing yourself to quality business people. Make it a point to meet new people whenever and wherever possible. Ask the people you know whom they know . Everyone starts somewhere.
I’m new in business. What can Bizlinks do for me?
If you have a good business and work ethic and you understand the work involved in Networking, Bizlinks can be the fastest way to get your business off the ground. If you have a good track record, introducing business people to your business is a great way to get started. People always want to help the new business get started; as long as they also know it won’t hurt their reputation to pass you referrals. Bizlinks members can be especially good in this case. Again, assuming you do quality work and have high ethical business standards.
I have a pretty common service. Will Bizlinks do me any good?
More than you would think. The majority of successful small businesses get their business through referrals when they start out and they maintain their business momentum by continually growing their referral base. Belonging to Bizlinks will set your business apart from the rest of the similar companies by moving past the traditional marketing methods and using business networking to it’s fullest potential. If a person goes to the Yellow Pages or the Internet to find a good service and finds dozens or thousands in some cases, they are more likely to make their decision based on a recommendation by a reputable businessperson than a Yellow Pages listing or a classified ad. Wouldn’t you?
I have a pretty specialized service. Can Bizlinks help me?
Without question. Bizlinks gives you a chance to have your specialized business become better known, and to pick up the business that you might not have known about using conventional marketing methods. It also will, in many cases, get people thinking about your service who would otherwise not have dreamed about it’s existence.
Won’t traditional marketing methods be just as good?
Traditional marketing is necessary for filling gaps in business, and is definitely a good boost when done right. Bizlinks would never advise anyone to drop traditional marketing. Advertising isn’t where most new business is generated, however. Most new business comes from referrals, good old-fashioned word of mouth. Word of mouth marketing is the oldest and truest form of marketing known to man. When dealing with a referral from someone you trust, there is a 90% chance that this referral will turn into actual work, there is also less chance of the work turning into an un-collectable debt. This reduces the cost of doing business by decreasing losses due to bad debts. Would you recommend someone to a trusted friend or business acquaintance whom you knew would not pay when the job was done?
How do I know I’ll get any referrals after I start sending them to other people?
For the most part we do not spend our time worrying about the individual members in our chapters passing you referrals, we tend to look at the chapter as a whole. Bizlinks is about teamwork, there are some businesses, which just cannot find a referral for you no matter how hard they try, and the same thing could happen to them. Bizlinks teaches our members to give and not worry about what they receive, as all the other members are concentrating on giving as well. You will receive referrals from others who you may not be able to send referrals to, should you stop taking their referrals? Of course not. All of our members work as a team, and that team spirit will even things out to everybody’s satisfaction.
What professions get the most from networking?
It is more a question of the individual than the profession in most cases, the person who works at networking will reap the rewards, and the person who sits back and waits will do poorly. There are certain businesses that do extremely well, because of the wide need for their services and the number of people they deal with on a regular basis. Computer repairs is a great example of this, everyone needs their computer to keep working. Financial services, computer sales, insurance brokers, mortgage brokers, real estate agents, car salesman, gift basket services, florists, hair dressers and web developers to give a few more examples. Most businesses that belong to Bizlinks get repeat or long term business through networking and when that starts to happen to you, the reality of networking will become quite clear.
I have more business than I can handle now. What good will networking do for me?
Proper networking helps to ensure that you continue to enjoy the full schedule, and also helps to make sure that you find more lucrative clients. If you give more leads than you receive, you will often find people offering you discounts and special information that might not generally be available to you. There is really no end to the benefits of networking. We had one gentleman quit a chapter of Bizlinks because he got too busy, his seat was subsequently filled and 2 months later he wanted to join the same chapter again as his business dried up. He lost a huge resource because he didn’t understand the big picture.
What kind of business increase can I expect when I join Bizlinks?
Business increase depends, of course, on how busy you are now, how seriously you take the networking process when you become a member of Bizlinks and how many clients you can properly take care of in the end. This factor is up to you and only you. Bizlinks is not a magic referral factory; you need to work hard to reap the rewards. It is a known fact that what goes around comes around; the more you give the more you will receive. It is not at all unusual for people who network well in this organization to have to add staff to handle the additional workload.
What exactly is a Bizlinks Networking Group?
They’re pretty simple, really. A group of business people meets each week at a pre-specified day and time and work together to build strong business relationships. This increases the number of contacts each business has access to. This is also known as the “Sphere of Influence” where each individual has a sphere of around 100 people…Readers Digest considers that each person has a sphere of influence of over 250 people. Every members sphere helps all involved to make better profits and to build a wider system of connections in the business community.
Bizlinks screens businesses for integrity and reputability before allowing them to join, thus ensuring the quality of work done by the members and making it easier for each member to make recommendations for the others. Normally there will be only one business in any given field in a chapter. One computer tech, one accountant, one window washer and one caterer, etc. This prevents conflicts and insures a greater increase in business for each member. Every member will have a chance to voice their concerns to the leadership if there is any known reason a proposed member should not be accepted into the chapter, this may be an opinion based on their impressions of the prospective members character as well. Loyalty to the members in the chapter is strongly encouraged. This increases the strength of the organization, thus making the chapter more durable and more valuable for each member.
How does Bizlinks work?
Throughout the course of the week, most business people run into people looking for certain things, which they themselves don’t supply. Members of Bizlinks do business ‘by referral only’ and the referring member will take notes to pass on to the member to call the potential client. When you have a group of 12-30 business people who know what you do and who are watching for leads for you, this can add up to significant additional business.
Why only one person from each profession?
This practice ensures that each person gets the maximum benefit from his or her membership. There is also the factor of avoiding conflict within the group. Many times, hard feelings could be generated if there were two or more people in the same profession competing for leads and the person supplying them had to choose who got them. This avoids uncomfortable situations for all involved.
What business categories are the most common?
IT Consultants, Computer Hardware Suppliers, Real Estate Agents, Insurance Brokers as well as Accountants and Financial Planners are the most common professions, however Thinkreferrals has taken a unique approach and has significant representation in the industrial sector as well, remember it is the ‘sphere of influence’ which creates the most solid referrals, smart networking organizations look past the ‘regular’ business types and get ‘creative’.
How do you know the members are reputable?
The selection process involves checking references, personal recommendations from established members, and checking length of time in business. It is in the best interests of the chapters to make sure that only reputable businesses are allowed membership. Their reputations are also involved when they give someone a referral.
How can you attend as a guest?
Usually you must be approached and invited by a member or find out about us on the Internet. If you are interested but don’t know any members, you may just show up but it is preferred that you contact the leadership of the chapter you are interested in and let them know you would like to visit. We allow an individual to visit only twice.
Do I have to get up and speak in front of the whole group?
Absolutely. This is not a chore but an opportunity to tell the group about yourself and your business, as well as how they can help you. For the most part this will only be for a minute or less. If you are accepted as a member you will be required to do an educational extended presentation going into more details. Many people who get involved in professional networking groups find the confidence and speaking skills they gather to be worth the time by itself.
Why does Bizlinks not focus on referrals?
Focusing on referrals and forcing a certain number of leads to be passed per week, invites the ‘desperation referral’ these referrals waste everybody’s time and can also cost reputations. We focus on ‘Building Business Relationships’, which result in the members wanting to go out and find and pass referrals. After all we are dealing with professional business people. In the beginning it will seem a bit awkward as you do not know the other members and they do not know you. It usually doesn’t take much time for the comfort level to increase. You will pick up the knack much faster than you would expect. It is important to understand that it takes time to form the strong relationships, which will reap the rewards of true ‘warm market referrals’.
What if someone joins and does shoddy work or treats other members disrespectfully?
Because of the screening process involved this will be very unusual. It does happen on rare occasion. When such an event occurs, the groups will usually have head office look into the matter and make a recommendation. If the matter cannot be resolved and is in fact the fault of poor workmanship or unwillingness on the part of the business to correct a mistake, the business will be ‘voted off the island’. Any disrespect of fellow members in front of other members will result in immediate removal from the Team.
Do we have to bring guests?
Absolutely. Members are expected to help increase the range of both available businesses to help build the relationships needed for successful business growth as well as keeping a large variety of services available to the members and their spheres of influence. You will be expected to bring businesses of similar high quality as yourself. We also believe that visitors of any caliber will help the group as a whole with new contacts, even if these visitors do not join the group. Most businesses find this a fun part of the organization, since they will also be seeing the additional success they receive from their own membership. It is more likely that you will have people approaching you than that you will need to approach them.
Does Bizlinks have referral related contests?
NO, we do not force or embarrass people into passing referrals; we are only interested in building better and stronger business relationships, which will lead to GOOD QUALITY, CONFIRMED leads. However, we do offer a small incentive. The “Toonie fund” is set up to help Habitat For Humanity Kamloops but as a win/win for members. The quarterly “Pot” is divided in half with 50% going to the charity and 50% going to a wining member’s ticket. For every guest a member brings, and for every referral a member receives credit, their name will go into the pot. The more guests & referrals, the more times your name in entered in the draw.
Why do we not pass referrals during our weekly meetings?
Referrals are far too important to leave them for just that one day a week. It should be known that referrals passed daily would reap far more benefits than referrals held till the one-day a week meeting.
Why should we bring visitors to the meetings?
It is important to realize that this organization would not survive without new groups being formed, or current groups growing. Guests at weekly meetings also have other purposes; any guest can be viewed as new business and new contacts for other members.
How can we help turn a visitor into a member?
Before the meeting, introduce yourselves to any visitors, make them feel welcome and at home. If you invited the visitor, take them around and introduce them to the rest of the group. Collect business cards from the other members and give them to the visitor. After the meeting follow up with your guests, find out how they enjoyed themselves, if they have any questions or concerns bring them to the group leaders and help them cover any and all questions.
This FAQ page was designed as a guideline to help members, new members and visitors to understand the complexities and the simplicities of Networking. These answers come from years of research and study into this fantastically efficient method of building your business and your client base. Bizlinks was designed to be as efficient as is possible but the methods will only work if there is complete commitment. Casual membership not only hurts the individual’s reputation but also has a negative effect on the chapter as a whole. Before joining such an organization, one must be prepared to completely commit to this form of marketing and growing your business.