Evolution of Business Networking in Springfield, Mo.

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Business networking in Springfield, Mo. is nothing new.  With established professional organizations and other local networking groups, it’s no wonder people have a “love it or hate it” attitude when it comes to these types of associations, clubs, and organizations.

Then 2020 hit and with it came the Tiger King, murder hornets, a stock market crash, and the Coronavirus Pandemic.  In the blink of an eye, the world changed including how we lived and worked.  While the quarantine wreaked havoc on the world’s economy and on the health and wellbeing of its inhabitants, it also gave many people the downtime needed to reassess work-life balance.  Parents suddenly had more time for their children, the zoom-boom happened, and people have been more conscious of hand-washing and the safety of others via social-distancing.

Many industries were hit hard – one of them being the business networking scene.  Where many business networking groups moved online, they also saw a huge percentage of memberships fall off and cancel.  Some of the professionals we’ve spoken to in and around Springfield, Mo. would rather meet face-to-face than hop onto a zoom call where others preferred the new virtual meeting spaces.  Surely there was a solution to addressing the needs and concerns of every one:  and voila!  We&Co was born.

Pros & Cons of Business Networking

Before we delve into We&Co, we have to start back pre-pandemic to a much simpler time – one where professional networking groups and referral marketing ran amuck!  During the quarantine, we had a chance to sit down and take a good long hard look at the business networking scene and note both the benefits and downsides to it.

Pros of Business Networking                       Cons of Business Networking

1.  Expanding / Increasing Professional Connections. 1.  Time-consuming:  It can be difficult for business owners to take 2 hours out of every week for a meeting.
2.  Increasing Your Authority / Profile Amongst the Community. 2.  Referrals / Business Growth Aren’t Guaranteed.
3.  Opportunities and Chances of Collaboration Increase. 3.  Chances of Spreading Covid-19 Increase with Face-to-Face Networking Meetings.
4.  Advance Your Career / Grow Your Client Base. 4.  Networking Meetings Can Be Expensive.
5.  Surrounding Yourself with Other Experts in Different Fields. 5.  Networking is Not A Quick-Fix but Rather a Long-Term Game.

To be honest, one of the main feedback I’d hear from professionals was that business networking was time-consuming and didn’t always work for them.  So, we went back to the drawing board and came up with something a little different… a fusion, if you will.  One that coupled professional networking with business development and masterminding.

The Evolution of Business Networking

There were a few facts we had to consider before launching We&Co. and what we call our “Huddles.”

  1. Addressing the needs of those who preferred face-to-face meetings as well as addressing the needs of those who preferred to stay socially distant.
  2. Not wasting anyone’s time, money or spinning anyone’s wheels.
  3. Creating an automated platform whereby one could easily see whether or not this benefited them and their business.

In order to do this, we did the following:

  • Offer smaller industry-specific groups with five to ten professionals who are able and willing to refer to one another.
  • Instead of meeting for an hour-and-a-half, meeting for an hour instead (a “power hour” if you will).
  • Instead of meeting weekly, meeting twice a month for the purposes of growing yours as well as the other members’ book of business.
  • We cover everything from goal-setting to passing referrals, SWOT analysis’ and understanding the products and services every member in that “Huddle” offers.

Another rule that changed was the whole industry-exclusive thing.  For many business networking groups, one cardinal rule is “if you join our industry-exclusive group you can’t join another industry-exclusive group.”  While we understand the significance of this, we also find that, as a professional, I don’t want someone telling me who I can and can’t refer to.  So, we don’t do that to our members.

Yes, we understand that it could take valuable referrals away from professionals within your “Huddle,” but one of the things we’ve found is that as a “Huddle” is established, you understand more deeply how the fellow members want to be referred to.  For example, one “Huddle” we have is based around organizations that are primarily business-to-business.  In this “Huddle” there is a CPA who only focuses on regional businesses with a minimum of 20 employees with offices in 5 different cities.

I may go out into the world and meet a business owner with five employees and only one location who would not be this specific CPA’s ideal referral.  In fact, referring this business to the CPA may be a waste of time for both parties.  The different factors involved, including price point, time, services needed, etc., may not be a good match.  Technically, I am doing my fellow “Huddle” member service by referring outside my We&Co “Huddle” to someone else.

Check out any FAQs you may have of a “Huddle” and what is expected from “Huddle” members here.  If you are interested in applying for a “Huddle,” (yes, there is an automated application process), keep in mind that they are only available to pre-existing members and will require passing our application process.

If you’d like to schedule a zoom call or schedule coffee with one of the We&Co Ambassadors, feel free to email us at info@weandco.org and you will be replied to shortly.