I have been in “business” since I was 15. The second job I landed (my first being Harvey’s, where I won employee of the month) was at McDonalds. Some would say that was an upgrade over Harvey’s. I can say that it was my first exposure to a well run franchise system complete with uniforms, state of the art video training and how to smile. While working at McDonalds, my father, who has been a great example of entrepreneurship suggested that I start a business. Having absolutely know idea what I was getting into I said sure.

Well four years later I grew under my Father’s mentorship a Canadian wide distribution business in the fishing arena. Walking into fishing shops across Canada I quickly learned the art of the sale and the power of networking. My Father had made many friends in the fishing business have spent far too much money at many of the same retailers I would soon sell my wares to. Without knowing it, I was using the power of networking to build my business from the 1st day I opened doors. During this time period I did not spend 1 dollar on any advertising or marketing. Everything was done through seminars, direct sales and the odd fishing article I would write for several publishers.

Today I run Five Star Painting, America’s 2nd largest painting franchise system with franchisees in Canada, the USA and Mexico. If it sounds like I am boasting somewhat, I can’t help it. I am very proud of what our team has accomplished. With this as a backdrop you may be able to guess what is the one of the most effective marketing tactics employed by our franchisees. Networking. It represents nearly 30% of each franchisee’s business, and has among the highest close ratios on estimates. The cost of networking is time and a few dollars, but the power of networking pays dividends for years. It is the foundation of success for many of America’s small businesses.

If you are just starting out and would like some shortcut tips here are a few of best groups to hit up for a good network.

BNI – networking group that comes with a small membership fee and regular breakfast meetings. The group is focused on lead generation through the network

LeTip –  similar to BNI

Chamber of commerce – honestly I can say that the success of your chamber membership depends largely on how the chamber is run. I have seen great success to nothing.

Twitter

Linkedin – this one is a must for any business professional.

If you have other networking groups you think should be added feel free to leave a comment.

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