Networking with your competitors

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I met up with Colin Read of BNI Scotland South and East today. You can find his website at BNIScotland.co.uk.
If anyone could be considered competition to 4Networking it would be BNI. They were, after all, organising networking events in the UK 10 years before 4Networking and are WAY ahead of us internationally.

But in talking to Colin, we both understood that we don’t compete at all.

There are over 4 million self employed people in the UK according to the Office for National Statistics (Office for National Statistics – self employed). Right now, most of that number don’t do any networking at all.

Instead of fighting over the small number who do go networking, Colin and I recognise that we have a far bigger opportunity if we work together to promote networking as an activity to the majority who don’t network. Some will prefer BNI, some will prefer 4Networking, some will prefer other networking events entirely or might decide that networking isn’t for them at all. But, importantly, we will be getting the word out to new potential members of both of our organisations, rather than fighting over those who are already converted.

How could you work alongside someone else who appears to do the same as you? What opportunities could you create that aren’t currently there? What speciality do you have that could benefit your “competition”? Or vice versa.

You see, networking isn’t about shutting out the competition but embracing them and seeing what you can achieve together. Networking is about what really makes your business unique and selling on that rather than constantly trying to compete on your competitors terms. Networking is about realising that, in 2014, everyone has almost unlimited choice, but there is also an almost unlimited market.

Get out there and meet those who you consider competition and see what markets you can create and what markets you can attack together.

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