Growing Business Through Professional Referrals

Describe your organization’s mission
Formed in March 2002, the mission of the Eden Prairie Business2Business Networking Group is to provide members with a forum to share business referrals, present information about their respective industry and teach or learn techniques to improve personal marketing and selling skills.

Describe one of your networking organization’s best leads
Recently we had one referral that gave business to five members of our group that involved the fulfillment of relocation needs for a growing engineering company. The lead provided major business contracts for our members representing the following categories: Commercial real estate, office furniture, telephone service, IT and audio/visual.

What sets your networking organization apart from the rest?

Members are exposed to a broad range of professional services, which transcends into an extended offering of services for clients. Members can sharpen their presentation skills by using the group as sounding board for new concepts. The group has a program for collective marketing opportunities to stretch marketing dollars.

What does it cost to join?
Initiation fee of $50 is paid upon acceptance to the group. The annual membership is $110, paying $55 January 1st and July 1st, or pro-rated from when you join.

How can someone get involved in the group?
We invite potential members to attend a weekly meeting held every Tuesday morning at 7:30 am. Guests may attend twice prior to committing to joining the group. We allow only one representative per industry; however if you provide multiple services within one industry, then you must represent one particular service that does not conflict with another member’s service in the same industry.

How did your organization form and is it affiliated with any other network/organization?
We are an independent local organization with no affiliation to other national networking organizations. The group started with the Eden Prairie Chamber of Commerce in March, 2002, then broke off into an independent organization from the chamber.

Describe what kind of person would be most interested in joining.
The ideal person is one who knows how to network and values the building of a rich network of contacts for business development.

How long will it be before leads come to me?
Lead generation depends on several factors. Some people may attend as a guest and walk away with a lead while others may wait six months or more before they receive a lead. As in several cases, timing and a company’s needs have a lot to do with outcomes. Many of our members have lead success stories. However, not all leads actually turn into business.

Must I attend every week?
Success for the group depends on having members interested in developing their business and their skills. By attending every week, you quickly learn what other members have to offer. Likewise, the group will learn about you and what you have to offer. The quicker the group is educated about you and appreciates the value of your services, the more you increase your potential for getting referrals. Members who miss more than three meetings or fail to attend at least 75 percent of the meetings are subject to termination from the group.

How does B2B promote itself?
Website: Explains who we are, what we are about and our meeting dates. Each member is entitled to develop his/her own web page. The fee for hosting the website is paid from member dues.

Newspaper Ads: The group advertises its meeting in both the Star Tribune, and Mn Business Journal.

Other Ideas: Communications committee works to find new ideas to promote the group and the services and products of the members.