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Saturday, August 09, 2008

When Networking Makes The News

By Peter Biadasz
Southern Plains Bureau Chief
(Missouri, Arkensas, Louisiana, Kansas, Oklahoma, Texas, Colorado, New Mexico)

Recently I had the honor of being interviewed by a statewide newspaper for an article about business networking. On July 23, 2008 The Journal Record ran as its headline front page story, Wheel and deal over a meal: The business of business networking. Reporter Heather Caliendo began the article by stating “During any given week, industry groups meet with one purpose in mind: generating more business.” In the article she touched on referral clubs, networking events, tip groups, Rotary clubs, City chambers of commerce gatherings, Business Network International (BNI) and the quickly growing Gold Star organization. At the end of the article Heather quoted me and noted that I am a writer for The National Networker. It is always nice when networking is in the news.

The article deals primarily with business networking as it is in Tulsa, Oklahoma. While Oklahoma City and other parts of the state of Oklahoma have some good networking activity, Tulsa has set itself apart in the networking community. On any given month in Tulsa there are at least 42 networking groups meeting either weekly, bi-weekly, or monthly. Some are open groups in which anyone can participate; some are closed groups in which only one representative from an industry is allowed. In addition, the Tulsa Chamber has a breakfast network every other month which averages over 200 attendees every time. They also have a business after hour’s showcase every other month in which 250-500 people attend every time. Every August they also have a Restaurant After Hours event which is enjoyed by 500-700 people. If you are ever in Tulsa feel free to visit these events. You will never forget the massive amount of networking that occurs at these gatherings.

Enter into discussion the business of networking: there are two types of businesses in existence, for profit and not for profit. This also exists within the business networking community. The article compared two for profit networking companies, BNI and Gold Star. It appears I was interjected into the article to act as referee, noting that I “witness the competition among networking organizations up close” and I feel that “regardless of which networking group people join, members will most likely be successful” if they work the group as a proficient and professional networker.

Everyone in a networking group is there to improve their business and make money. “It’s no different with the business of networking because Gold Star, BNI, they are businesses to make money” I am quoted again. Then we get to the bottom line. “From my independent perspective, when the bad-mouthing hits my way, I say this is all about networking – let’s put the business of networking aside.” Interpretation - No matter what type of networking organization you are involved in, there is always enough business and a wealth of business relationships, to go around for all networkers involved.

As an unbiased reporter who has been involved in Business networking, both as a participant, teacher and author, for nearly 20 years, I suggest to anyone who asks to find a group your are comfortable in considering the personality of the group, the business you can give and receive, and with the financial obligations, if any, of being involved in the group. I feel that Tulsa has set a great year round-model for business networking. The Tulsa Metro Chamber calls it the Networking Circuit.

I encourage you to contact your local and/or state newspapers to promote the networking activities in which you participate. Let’s keep business networking in the news.
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