Network Groups: Where are they going?

If you are in business you probably have gone to a Network Group gathering and had given your ‘one minute commercial’ (OMC).  If you have been in business for a real long time you probably have given your OMC in your sleep.Have you ever looked back to how many times you have told someone, or a group of people, your one-minute spill on what you do for a living?  Have you thought about how many times you have changed your OMC for whatever reason?  If you are like me you have several written versions of your OMC.  And after writing them down, I would time them to see how long it takes to read it.  Then I would read it out loud and usually it would takes about 10 seconds longer.  I found that on average an effective OMC is less than 200 words.  After listening to some of the people from the far northeast deliver their OMC the average words per minute increases to nearly 500 words.  Me, since I am from
Texas I am usually asked to sit down after 150 words. 
It really disturbs me to look back on all of the time I spent processing all of the information about my business into one minute.  Hell it takes me five seconds just to say my name and the name of my business.  It is even more disturbing to think about all of the other people out there who have been doing them for a lot longer period of time than I have. 

Well, I am here to tell you that the method of standing up in front of complete strangers to deliver your OMC is changing. But, don’t run off and delete your OMC files yet.  Just celebrate the fact that having to stand up and give them is over.  Can I have an Amen; the One Minute Elevator Speech is finally DEAD. Yes, I am catching a lot of crap from the traditional business network group’s leaders who feel the OMC is part of the entertainment value of their group and if it wasn’t for the OMC they would have no idea what anyone that came to the meeting was there for.  Scary thought in itself..  What also is disturbing is the fact that these guys and gals get off listing to how 80% of the people in the room want your money and the remaining 20% want to invest it.  Truth be known, most of the network groups leaders who are challenging me are more worried about losing the members annual membership fee than the OMC.  These dinosaurs of the traditional business networking world will in a few months be the people that are sitting at Denny’s wondering why nobody showed up.  So, I hope they are reading, because here is what they need to know to make the change.  

To coin a phrase from an up and coming successful online group I am a member of, the traditional style networking groups ‘Suck’.  When I say they Suck, I mean they serve little, if any, purpose other then taking up huge amount of time in an effort to try to do all for everyone.  And doing it pathetically…Plus, they do this over and over and over again every other week and in some cases every week. The next generation of Business Networking will not involve standing up and presenting your one-minute commercial to a groups of complete strangers.  Or, even worst, giving the OMC to the same group of people you gave it to last week.In my previous article I wrote about the different methods of Business Networking being used today.  So, for the rest of the second of my three articles I will run down some of the basic history of online business networking groups and what the next step is going to be.   

Over the past 10 years there has been a huge increase in the number of business people who are joining online networking groups.  Huge meaning the number of groups are in the tens of thousands worldwide.  Today’s business people want to find ways to market themselves that are time effective and more productive.  To get there they are going ONLINE.  Yes, to the Internet.  Just the word Internet scares the old-timer networkers who are still are out there trying to hang their hat on obscured facts like; ‘the Internet is a waste of time since only 15% of the population has access to the internet’.  I don’t think some of them have changed the pages on their wall calendars since 1999.   The fact is, they refused to get on board with the technology era when it started and are having a real hard time dealing with the power the internet has in business today.  Yes, dealing with change is hard for these guys and gals.The bottomline here is online networking covers a lot of bases all at once.   

In the beginning online networking groups were formed for a number of reasons, but the main one was so business people could manage their time more effectively.  Before online groups there were no emails, the fax machine was state of the art technology and the only way to get noticed in the business world was to spend a lot of money with newspaper and yellow pages advertising.    The concept of online networking began when the Internet became accessible to anyone who had a PC.  Groups were formed with business people signing-up to be a member of the group, which included building a profile on who they are and what they do for a living.   This information was posted on the site for other members and the world to review.  Then the members sat back, send a few emails and made relationships over the internet.  Chat Rooms were developed for niche groups that wanted to gather people with common interests together to talk shop.  Things were hunky-dory for a few years and then growth caught up with these groups.The online business networking groups that started the craze grow to be huge mega sites with hundreds of thousands of people signing up.  Since the membership was open to the world, members were coming in from all over the world.  With growth came problems and problems generated inquires to the founders and creators of these mega groups.  So many inquiries and emails to the creators of the groups were made each day they had to put up buffers to slow down the number of emails they were getting.  In most cases the creators and founders farmed out the contacts for the emails or developed canned replies in place of actual personal feedback.  This caused the founders and creators of the groups to disconnect from their membership and lose touch with who was a member of their group.  Even with this growth and the problems it crated things were working.  Lots of people were talking and discussion about business was part of the building of the new business community.Things were rolling along pretty good until starting in 2002 up to mid 2004 the Spammers found that these groups were the happy hunting grounds for marketing pornography, pharmaceuticals and other products EVERYONE wanted to buy…NOT!.  This is still happening today but not nearly as bad as it was during this period of time.  For nearly a year spammers were farming email addresses from business people web-sites, which started relentless emailing of unwanted solicitation to millions of people all at once.   The shear volume of the unwanted information took it toll on these huge sites.Yes, there was damage to these groups, but the founders who did not disconnect from their groups learned to better manage their memberships.  In the sites where the creators and founders disconnected from the group the damage spammers caused was severe and resulted in their servers being filled with thousands of abandoned membership profiles and sub-groups.Now, things have changed.  There is SPAMware, Spyware, heavy duty firewalls and array of defensive programs people can load on their computers that are doing a pretty good job sending spam off into never-ever-land.  And in the Online networking world, well, things are getting back to normal.Things in the online business networking world are not all bad.  And there are a few groups on the internet that are getting close to being worth while.  But, there are still some potholes out there business people need to avoid. 

I’ll be back in a little in a while to breakdown how the major players in online business networking work and the David and Goliath story that is developing amongst some of the newer sites that don’t Suck…  Stay Tuned.

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