4Networking – Who are they?
4Networking or “4N” as I will refer to it ( in order to stop me from going mad typing “networking” ) was founded by the rather flamboyant Brad Burton as an antidote to the existing somewhat authoritarian Business Networking organisations.
Just to establish my credentials to comment on it’s effectiveness I have been a member of two 4N groups for a period of six months each. The first ended when the venue could no longer host the meetings and the second because I personally did not get any business out of it. So my experience is real and not taken form websites etc. Incidentally I am currently not a member of any networking organisation..
4N have now about 320 groups in the UK there are other claims but I arrived at this by counting the number of groups for myself on their website. I estimate this would give approximately 8,075 active members based on 25 per group. I have seen claims of up to 50,000 but that’s simply silly and would be over 1,500 members per group (big room required here ).
How do they Differ
I’ll give you a quick list before I move on to my real reason for writing this which is Does 4N work ?
Based on the idea of 50% business 50% social there is no compulsory attendance, no requirement to provide referrals ( leads), fortnightly not weekly meetings, and a choice of payment terms. All good stuff. On the subject of cost new members pay £ 499 + VAT per year with renewal at £ 365.00. There are however some financial discounts for people in various circumstances and it’s worth checking at the time.
Meetings start at 8:0am not 7:0am so you get an extra hours kip.
Why do we go to Business Networking events.
I will go out on a limb here and say that there is one reason and that is ” to find new business ” . It may be via friendship or it may be via pressured referrals but people are there to get, primarily and not give. This is the reason that I have walked out of a couple of speed networking events. No one is bringing work to the table it’s an elaborate business card swap meet.
During the two years I spent as a member of BNI I hated the part where referrals had to be handed over especially when I had failed to come up with any. My wife has never had so many flowers, from the network member florist, as she did during those two years. The same applies to car tyres, replaced when part worn, numerous brochures ( still in the cupboard) and many other purchases that were not essential.
I even banged into a fellow members van on the car park to give the member with a body shop some work ( OK it was an accident, I didn’t see a Ford Transit van in an empty car park)
The other side of the coin is that I found and received some leads that brought in large amounts of business. It’s resented, feared and avoided – but it works. Why ? Because most of us need a kick up the “arse” ( to use a Bradism) and respond to deadlines. I know that I do.
What is 4Networkings alternative
Basically, play nice , make friends and help each other.
If this sounds a bit jaundiced that could be because, in that year of attending 4N I got no new business at all but during this time I attended one BNI meeting as a guest and came away with a referral. That turned into business and I am still providing a service to this new client 2 years later.
Of course this could be just a one off . So can I ask, are you a member of 4N and if so do you do everything you can to give business opportunities to your fellow members. If you read my article on the ” One way to Networking Success ” you will be in no doubt about the fundamental importance of this.
If your reading Brad keep your shirt on. 4N is a great organisation with fantastic friendly atmosphere but I think there should be some emphasis on the passing of business. In no way do I mean the authoritarian schemes of some of your competitors ( which have driven more people to 4N than probably anything else) but a concentration, a slight pressure, a channeling of effort.
How can it be Improved
If I knew that I be selling the idea to Brad and the 4N team.
I think this it is an area that should be worked on and not brushed under the carpet. If you have any ideas let me know, comments are always welcome and I’ll pass them on.
As a closing thought if Brad ( nice Muscles by the way ), or anyone at 4N, would like to put me straight my details are still on your database or just simply add a comment ( no naughty words though ) we’d love to hear from you.