24 June 2021

Network One is a vital source for leads, introductions and business expertise

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Woman talking at meeting

The focus of Network One is to make referrals with other businesses within the group, all while enjoying breakfast together. Photo: File.

Networking is a vital part of business, providing advice, leads, connections and mentors, and it can be a great way for your business to grow and raise its profile.

There are many ways of networking, some involve after-hours attendance at functions, others attending official functions, but the old ways of networking are becoming obsolete. Handing out business cards to people you just met is no longer as effective as it once was.

That’s where Network One comes in.

Convenor Paul Huskinson says the idea to form Network One came from a group of six business friends who regularly met for a social get-together.

“At that time, I belonged to another network group,” he says. “But an incident I wasn’t in favour of occurred so I left that organisation.

“Someone else called me and asked if I knew any other business networks, and there wasn’t one. So I started a new networking group. We started asking other people, and within a few weeks there were 45 people attending Network One.”

The focus of Network One is to make referrals with other businesses within the group, all while enjoying breakfast together. Members enjoy the breakfast meetings in the pleasant surrounds of EQ Cafe in Deakin.

“During a six-month period, it grew into several meetings because so many people wanted to attend,” says Paul. “It turned into Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday and Friday groups, rather than one big group – we put together different groups on different days.”

He says the idea of keeping the groups to a maximum of 27 people is the ideal way to ensure advice can be gained and given. There is an average of 20 to 22 people in a group, and each group has a representative from a different industry – for example, an accountant, a lawyer, an information technology expert, a tradesperson – and the model has been working well for seven years.

“As visitors come, they can come to any group to see if they like it, and we place them in a group they’re suited to,” says Paul. “It’s a way of finding contacts and helping each other set up introductions.

“Each week there’s a presentation for 20 minutes or half an hour. While we do referrals – and other groups work on the principle that you must give a referral – we don’t insist on that.

“We now have around 70 members, but we’re aiming to make it to more than 100 members. Anybody is welcome, and if they don’t fit in one group, we’ll make sure we find them another group where they’re comfortable. We also have people who use Zoom, and that’s always on hand for people who can’t make it in person.

“We’ve got a program for people just starting in business, and a program that shows members how to forget about the business card and make an appointment to discuss business with a new prospect.

“The contacts you make aren’t just for a week – they’re long term contacts – and the people you will meet, you can speak to them about things they wouldn’t speak to their partners or friends about, whether it’s tax law or anything else business related.

“There’s no application process – just come along to see if you like what we do in that group. If it’s not your thing, join another group.”

SOLVit Network Support managing director Damien Samios says nothing comes close to Network One.

“The professional business relationships you develop mean you can confidently recommend people to customers – it’s like a team,” he says. “If someone’s looking for an electrician, we can confidently recommend one in the room because we know them, and we know they’re serious and will do a great job for the customer.

“I can confidently recommend people in Network One, knowing the job will be done right. We have the ability to draw on their expertise, and I’ve got a lot of leads from that group. We haven’t had to advertise because we have enough work from networking.

If you would like further information about Network One, or wish to join a Network One group, contact convenor Paul Huskinson by email or by phone on 0411 339 057.

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