Our meetings offer members and visitors a chance to learn more about business issues, get help with accounts, insurance, advertising, HR or legal problems and much more. Visitors get the opportunity to meet informally with members who cover a range of professional services. Members benefit from leads generated and the instructive talks given by fellow members.
The benefits are best summed up by one visitor’s comments:
I’d only been running my own business for a month or two before I first went to BEST. I don’t know what I’d expected but friends had told me that the best way to build my business was through networking, referrals. The week before I’d gone to another business group, one of the American-run ones that boasted of getting lots of business for its members. It was a bit frightening standing up and describing my new venture in less than a minute. I met a lot of small business owners like me and got rid of half of my business cards in a single morning. A couple of guys promised to send me business although they had only just met me.
I thought BEST would be the same. It wasn’t.
When I walked into the room there were about a dozen people standing around chatting but instantly a couple broke away and came over. They introduced themselves and poured me a coffee. They introduced me to the others – all in a very casual way. No one thrust a business card at me. But they were keen to know what I did, what problems I was facing as newly self-employed.
The meeting itself was a lot less formal. The members acted like a bunch of friends – there was some good-natured heckling! What I soon realised was that these guys were running professional service companies in the main – although there was also a natural health practitioner and a director of the Guildford Fringe who organised comedy clubs. The topic for the day was GDPR which is something that was going to impact on my business a lot, so I was very keen to learn what I could.
One of the guys was an HR consultant and explained about staff record keeping, another a lawyer who explained some of the legal ramifications while one of the marketing guys explained about email marketing implications. I learned a lot and afterwards spent some time talking with a couple of other members about how they were going to deal with it.
A couple of members updated the group on a project they were working on together while others thanked colleagues for business leads that had come to fruition.
It was so interesting and yet so unpressurised. I expected to be accosted and asked to sign up as a member (a lot cheaper than the other group by the way!). But no. “We’re not in business to make money from signing up as many members as possible,” said the chairman. It’s our own group – we don’t have to pay a third party. We want to get business for our own members, that’s our aim. We like guests to come and meet us. Maybe they need some of the services our members offer. In some cases they may even have services which we are lacking in which case it would be good to invite them to join, but only once we’ve got to know each other well. “
The meeting gave me an introduction into some really friendly guys who have the skills and experience to help me build my business. I’ll be coming back.