Should a Small Business Owner Join a Networking Group? What is a mastermind group? What are the differences and the benefits of a referral or leads group?
- How to get the most out of a referral or networking group
- What type of mastermind group to join and why
- How to Find the Right Group For You
What is the Renegade Entrepreneurs group of the Pacific Northwest?
This video covers all of these things and more!
Renegade Entrepreneurs of the Pacific Northwest, Episode #2: Networking and Mastermind Groups
Learn the Secrets of Small Business Networking Using Referral and Mastermind Groups
With Keith Eneix and Jesse Stoddard
Want to learn more about joining our group? Click Here.
Listen to or download the audio Podcast via Soundcloud:
Watch the video here:
Jesse Stoddard: 00:06
Hi I’m Jesse Stoddard
Keith Eneix: 00:08
…and I’m Keith Eneix.
Jesse Stoddard: 00:10
And here we are starting another episode of the Renegade Entrepreneurs of the Pacific Northwest—episode number two—and we’re excited to be with you guys today. Today we’re going to talk about small business issues that are very important like networking and mastermind’s and basically growing your business and overcoming a lot of the problems of a small business.
Keith Eneix: 00:35
Yeah last time we covered those five stages of just marketing and such but we want to kind of take a step back to talk a little bit about ourselves and our story and even how we got to this area you know so Jesse, we go far back and away from the networking. We literally met in a networking group right. Right. LeTip. Right. So that was that was some years ago.
Jesse Stoddard: 01:05
Yes, and gosh what was it, do you remember? It seems like it was 2009. It’s almost—not quite a decade. If I remember correctly we met at a function that LeTip had so it wasn’t a regular chapter meeting. It was a it was like—what do they call it—a mixer. With a whole bunch of chapters like almost like a trade show situation. So I’m sure you know our viewers have been at that kind of trade show thing before. And what’s your experience? Tell me about that experience with that.
Keith Eneix: 01:36
LeTip specifically? Yeah if you’re not familiar with to go out and go to LeTip.com you can kind of get a little bit better understanding of what that is but maybe you’ve heard of Business Networking International very similar type groups. I highly recommend it. They are fantastic ways to get started in your business, no matter what industry you’re in. You’ll meet with usually 10 to 20 other people once a week. And the whole goal is for everybody to network with each other and give referrals whether that’s referrals of each other or they’re giving referrals from people they know and so the idea is everybody knows at least you know let’s just say 20 people so you have 15 people in a room. Times that by 20. And that is a lot of network opportunity there.
Keith Eneix: 02:29
Those people know people and so on and so forth. I started in my business that way. I was in print marketing actually—a company called Hometown Values coupon magazine.
Jesse Stoddard: 02:29
Still a good company.
Keith Eneix: 02:43
Absolutely is! Yeah, I had bought the rights to publish that magazine in two city areas. And that’s my first venture into owning my own business. And really it was a great learning platform because they had some good training for direct sales and such, that got me not only visiting business owners—literally knocking on doors, cold calling and being in the frontline trenches of small business with other business owners and trying to figure out how to get them to grow with print. But it also got me involved with this networking group and how networking and referrals works and that organic process so I was really thankful for that opportunity to get into hometown values.
Keith Eneix: 03:28
My mantra every day was to go see 20 businesses, have four sit downs, and try to close one business owner on my friend. So if you want to talk about direct sales and the importance of when you’re starting your business going out and just putting in numbers, that’s that’s an important thing. And I kind of like to think of that too with networking. Why LeTip is important or BNI (Business Networking International) is important. Not every meeting you go to—you’re not getting something out of every single meeting. In fact a lot of times, that’s actually the wrong mentality to come to those Meetings with. Because a lot of times you’re not going to get something out of it unless you put something in, and those other people expect you to do that.
Keith Eneix: 04:12
So that’s one of the things I really liked about that group because it really forced you to say: “All right, I got to go to this little meeting every week. I better bring something or else I’m not providing value to the other people in the group”. So I really enjoyed LeTip, doing that and of course got to meet some amazing people. I will say in our business, although we are not doing LeTip today, our business has reaped humongous benefits from doing LeTip when I was just starting off.
Jesse Stoddard: 04:46
We should probably pause and differentiate between the different kinds of networking and and that’s why is networking important. Well first of all you know you’ve got the idea of getting leads you could use it as a lead generation source and also hopefully you are building relationships who then give you referrals that are you know are multiplying your lead generation effort. That’s ultimately the main reason for doing these. These are called referral groups as opposed to a Chamber of Commerce right which you could use for networking purposes, but typically the chamber is a loosely organized group. If you’re a mortgage broker you could be there and there’s 14 other mortgage brokers, versus a leads or referrals group like BNI or LeTip where there’s only one per category right? So that’s a little different there but there’s many different kinds.
Keith Eneix: 05:38
I know I’ve been in chamber I’ve been in LeTip. What would you say is the biggest difference between those two?
Jesse Stoddard: 05:46
The leads and referrals group versus the general pass-around-business-cards. The general groups like the Chamber I don’t think there’s anything wrong with them I think they can be useful. There are ancillary benefits you get from signing up because you show up in various publications they have, you get invited to certain events in the community and are just in the know. I think it’s smart to join in general. They usually are going to pay for themselves. But the big difference is they’re not really designed for referrals and LeTip or BNI is designed for referral. Meaning your commitment is going to show up every week versus once every two months or whatever you actually do with the chamber, and you’re going to show up every week and you are expected to build a relationship with somebody.
Jesse Stoddard: 06:41
My experience too—that’s where we met—It was fantastic to be involved with those groups. And I was involved in several different businesses over several different years and I remember a couple of chapters in particular where they were at that 12 of the 15 member Mark and all of a sudden they expanded and got up to nearly 50 members.
Jesse Stoddard: 06:58
And during the expansion time was extremely exciting because there’s a lot of business being passed—people are making an extra million dollars because of the relationships. People are excited. But I’ve also been in groups that were shrinking that were going from 40 down to 12 or 6 or 3. And there’s a mystery there sometimes you know that has to do with leadership. It has to do with the particular vibe in the group might not be right. So I found that the big difference is just the vibe in every group is different. And so my recommendation is always to go to them and see what that vibe is and whether you feel like it’s a good one. Because I’ve had people that say well LeTip is terrible, BNI is great, or BNI is terrible and LeTip is greater. It’s all silly because it all depends which one’s better. It depends it depends on the people you connect with them personally and professionally. And then they can be a good hit. So it’s a great question. What are your thoughts on that?
Keith Eneix: 07:51
Well it’s interesting because looking back I’ve got a very different perception of those groups. One of those things is they ask you to kind of give your elevator pitch. I’d be curious to know just what you think about that because when I was there, I had a horrible elevator pitch. I was just like “Hey, I’m the marketing guy somebody do business of me please.” You know it’s kind of how it came across. And I was ready to do business with everybody. And in a way that doesn’t provide value to anybody and I was going through that journey of understanding what that even meant. Because if you want other powerful referral partners you’ve got to be able to tell them quickly how they can be a good referral partner to you. And to be really general isn’t any help to anybody really.
Keith Eneix: 08:40
So whereas my pitch could have been very general. Fast forward some years later and I went to a networking event that I was invited to by a good friend of mine and I decided I’d be prepared. And so I came in with a much better elevator pitch you could say and instead of just saying, “Hey, I’m the general marketing guy,” I focused on specifics; focused on a specific niche where we’ve been very successful and kept it short by the way I mean this is less than 30 seconds that you’re saying something but I kept it very short, very specific, and showed not a “Hey I like working for somebody please give me some leads in this area.” I didn’t even ask for that I just said “Hey, we like working for these types of people. Why? Because we’ve helped them be successful. And here’s some case studies. We literally drove thirty five thousand dollars in new sales for a carpet company last month. So if you know of a carpet company who’s looking to grow their business, I’d love to have a conversation with them.” That’s a lot more compelling and I think if just to kind of talk about I’m a marketing company but let’s just say you’re a service company, understanding who your best customer is, the homeowner, certain revenue level, you know all of those kinds of things. It helps so much for somebody is trying to give referrals to you as a home service person or you know even Lawyer’s to really help your referral partners know how to send you the right referrals because that makes a big difference. Makes a huge difference on the amount of referrals you get, and also the quality of the referrals.
Jesse Stoddard: 10:16
You’re touching on a couple of things that are really valuable I think because people might be wondering, is a networking meeting or group even worth going to? And where is it in the hierarchy of what we were teaching before about media and ROI and all of that, and I think it’s because—and you gave a great example—because it is one of the fastest ways to grow small business when you’re first starting out. If you’ve got a good target and it reminded me of when I was doing well in a group it was because what I did say fit the other members in terms of what they would need versus there’s some people that go to a group and they’re just sitting back hoping the leads come in just because they signed up for the group. Now you actually have to make an effort to meet other people and to give before you get, you have to try to do business with them, try to refer them business—that’s the number one thing you could do is try to help them out and then law reciprocity usually plays in.
Jesse Stoddard: 11:07
But also you need it like you said if you have something focused that if they’re interested—the quickest way to get referrals from someone is to do a great job for them. And a lot of times people want referral, “I want a referral from this gal or guy but they wouldn’t use me themselves.” Well no they’re probably not they really have a hard time referring you because they don’t believe in the product. So if the people in your group tend to use you you have a higher chance of getting referrals and that’s I think what you know you’re talking about with that good targeted message—They go, “Oh yeah. We want to do business with Keith,” and now that they’re doing business with you they’re likely to maybe tell some other people as well because they’re going to become raving fans. It’s a really good point.
Keith Eneix: 11:46
Well I think that if you if you look at people who are successful in these groups you have the people who are naturally the givers and then you have the people who need to learn. Right? And I will say this, what I noticed is a lot of people who are very operationally minded tended to struggle with the referral thing but it was something they needed to learn how do I become a better salesperson. How do I create a better message. How do I connect with people in a better way and the people who tended to be more of the sales people the givers and communication they tended to give a lot of referrals but there’s an aspect to that which is really good if you tend to be operationally focused. While going to a group like that is kind of functions as a mastermind because these people teach you how to become a better—we called it “Tipper” and write (send) better “Tips” (referrals). So that that is huge because then you can see someone else in action on how they do it. And not only is it helping you give to those people but you know there’s a there’s a great example Dave Ramsey gives about money where he says hey “With money if you have clenched fists, well there’s no way for money to go through your hands.” And he said if you have open hands you know then they just go straight through this like that with referrals if you have a mindset that’s open and not clenched then you’re just going to find that there’s more opportunity that comes.
Jesse Stoddard: 13:09
Let’s talk a little bit more about a few more problems. We’ve mentioned some problem with these groups. I’ve got a few, I’m sure you have a few… One of the things that I hear a lot as a complaint from business owners and I felt the same way was: You show up to one of these things and the first thing they do is charge a bunch of money and you’ve got your dues that you’ve got to pay and then some of the groups have a little fining systems where if you don’t do something you have to put a quarter in a bucket and it can be annoying or you look at your total expenditures—a thousand dollars or two thousand dollars for the whole year just to come to a meeting and then pay extra for breakfast.
Jesse Stoddard: 13:46
And then you’re sitting there and everyone passes business cards around and nobody does business with each other. So I think that is a problem with a lot of the traditional groups. Why is that? Do you have any idea why that might be?
Keith Eneix: 13:57
Well I think that going back you’ve got to kind of come in with a little bit of smarts when it comes to understanding the value of the group you’re about to join. I always like to come into the group and I looked for—does that group have one or two really good tippers. Because if you have a bunch of, I call them operations people, who are people who are like “Yes I like to focus on daily operations of my business but I’m not really focused on the sales side.” If you have a lot of people in a group like that then the group doesn’t feel right. It’s not right because nobody’s giving tips. They’re just coming to get tips and it’s not really a giving environment at that point. So what I would tend to do is, and you maybe you have a different way of coming at this, but I would tend to come into the group and I would try to find who that Tipper is and I would want to connect with that person. Because not just are they going to give a lot of tips but they’re good vibe is going to rub off on me which is going to rub off on somebody else and the whole group gets healthier because of that. So if you do walk into a group. And if they’re going you know because they go in cycles like you say and you walk in and they’re just all operations people. It’s like well maybe don’t join that group. It doesn’t matter if it’s LeTip or BNI.
Jesse Stoddard: 15:16
Unless they all are the perfect customer for what you have to offer.
Keith Eneix: 15:19
Then you can get into weird scenarios where the big tipper of the group kind of controls the group and that’s a little weird too. And so that there can kind of be some politics in that too. But you know aside from that, looking for the big tipper and you know making sure that that’s a big component of that group. And usually then there’s a couple you know along the along the way instead of just a group of people just getting together and eating some food and put money in a bucket.
Jesse Stoddard: 15:51
One of the problems I see in addition to that is most groups they tend to focus on the pomp and circumstance and the routines—and their routines and structure are in place for a reason, and they have some value of keeping people showing up every week and going through itinerary—but they miss out on the heart and soul of it and they don’t spend that extra time to go and meet with each other outside of it or really talk about real issues in their business. I’ve been to some of those meetings where… I love saying the Pledge of Allegiance and all that’s great. But they do that and then they do this in the end by the time you know the meetings over before you actually get to a real conversation with anybody because it’s just all this stuff.
Jesse Stoddard: 16:33
And the problem with that is you never really develop the relationship that you need to trust somebody to do business with them. And so then you have to do it outside of it. But people feel like they’ve already spent too much time. So there are very very few opportunities for teaching and learning also. Let’s talk about the solutions that we have for this that we are excited about. What do you think?
Keith Eneix: 16:57
Oh I’m excited. I’m excited for Renegade Entrepreneurs of the Pacific Northwest. Well, REPN for short.
Jesse Stoddard: 17:10
So this is something I suppose I should start with. This is something that I’ve been thinking about for a long time. Now there’s also we talked about networking and lead generation referral groups, but we didn’t talk about Mastermind groups which is a whole different thing. And actually before I get into this why don’t you mentioned the mastermind group that you were involved in because that’s fascinating?
Keith Eneix: 17:36
I was involved in a mastermind group actually recently. A CEO mastermind group and I found that to be very beneficial. It was like accountability for CEOs and such. And I did find the information very beneficial. I also thought too, for businesses who are 0 to 5 million dollars a year which is us. You know we’re in that category as well. A CEO Mastermind Group is a little bit too up there—I need something a little bit back—because what are we struggling with in the zero to 5 million dollar range? Well we’re we’re still trying to figure out the tactics because we’re still in our business a little bit. How to get out of our business and work work on it. And we need we need those things where as CEO Mastermind groups tend to focus more on how do you hire the right people and how do you build your culture and all those things which are important but you’re just not going to struggle with that near as much between the zero to 5 million dollar mark.
Keith Eneix: 18:35
So the biggest thing that we struggle with zero to five million are things like how do I get my pipeline consistent? How do I get my marketing in place? Hiring the right people is really going to become more of a pain about the million dollar mark because you go through a reorg usually in your business about that point. But you’re going to reorg and you’re not going to really need to start focusing on culture till you get about to 20 people, somewhere in there. So you’re still really focused on how do I fill that pipeline and keep it consistent. How do I keep my sales team making sales and get that consistent. So yeah I really enjoyed the mastermind group for sure. But Renegade is about really fixing those pain points at zero to five million dollar business owners.
Jesse Stoddard: 19:24
So a little bit more of a you know a small business owner helping small business owner. And even if they’re in different industries. Yeah sometimes you can learn from outside of your industry and you know diversify your knowledge about business in general just by learning from what other business owners are doing. So the difference though is basically you’re working on your business rather than in your business. And so when you’re in a mastermind group that’s the purpose is to learn about how to grow your business.
Keith Eneix: 19:55
And you want to join the Mastermind group that fits well with you, on where you’re at in your journey.
Jesse Stoddard: 19:55
Trading ideas right?
Keith Eneix: 20:07
Yeah exactly. The CEO who’s got you know 60 million dollar of your company I’m not going to be able to relate as well with. You know right? You wouldn’t be able to relate as well either to a 60 million of your company.
Jesse Stoddard: 20:17
I think that’s happening probably next year.
Keith Eneix: 20:21
Well I can tell you what, he had a big headache though. I mean when you have hundreds of employees. That’s hard.
Jesse Stoddard: 20:25
Let’s talk about what our group is now. So basically what this is, it’s combining the best elements of a leads and a referral group with a mastermind group. So the some of the things that we talked about the Mastermind group is about growing and learning. It’s about meeting with other entrepreneurs that will help give you ideas to get business and we’re not just talking about leads and referrals, although that’s a good thing to talk about. We’re talking about sales and marketing systems, hiring and firing, management systems, financial systems, other things that you can learn about from other entrepreneurs and then go along the journey like you said. And then on the referral side or the lead side you’re talking about actually doing business together sometimes. So this is basically a combination of the two—the best of both worlds. While getting rid of a lot of the fluff, so we’re not going to be passing a bucket around and throwing quarters in it. It’s not necessary for our particular meeting. We like to think we’ve graduated from that. And the way you do graduate from that is you make sure that the members that are in there to begin with are quality people that actually want to grow their business, so that’s what we’re excited about and getting moving with that and getting more members for that out and there’s already quite a few people who are showing a lot of interest for it and it’s starting to grow. So what’s interesting about it to you?
Keith Eneix: 21:45
Well I’m really excited because you know we’ve passed that million dollar mark as a company. And looking back I can see all these things that—I mean a million dollars is when you’re— I remember when we were at three hundred thousand dollars a year and looking at a million dollars like “oh that’s that’s the arrival,” you know you’ve arrived at that point. I was just talking with a business owner at an event where he’s at 8 million dollars and he’s looking at me like “Okay Keith, you’ve got a lot more to go and there is going to be a lot more pain”. But now looking back and now I can see because I’ve been hindsight 20/20 on that road. These are the things that I should have been focusing on and those were the most important things. You know I had employee problems in my business that I struggled with and that can really get your focus off the mark and the goal of where you want to go with your business.
Keith Eneix: 22:41
Having people in your company that really don’t have the same goals as you do, so you want to make sure that you’re building your company with the same goals—People who are in line with those and down the road I will have to build that “cult” culture. You know that “cult” which big business talks about and I’m learning just now what that even means.
Jesse Stoddard: 22:41
How to mix the Koolaid.
Keith Eneix: 23:13
Yeah, exactly. But that thing of building your sales and marketing team—that is the most important thing to focus on. And that’s why I like what we’re talking about today because as a business owner, building your sales and marketing team goes all the way back to the very beginning of you’ being able to get off your butt and go out and cold call—go out and meet people shake hands and if you are passionate about that then other people in your business will be passionate about that. But if you’re not you’re going to have a tough time building a big company. That’s a very important thing.
Jesse Stoddard: 23:49
I suppose we should talk about what actually happens at a meeting, and I haven’t told you about that yet. There is going to be opportunity to network, but it’s not a freewheeling kind of meeting there’s actually an agenda. There’s an itinerary—because every single meeting is going to be high quality content and this content is going to be around small business needs—growing your business and mostly about marketing because that is the engine that drives your new business. We will talk about other things related to management and finance but most of it is going to be lead generation marketing and sales and marketing effort. Some other benefits to the Renegade Entrepreneurs of the Pacific Northwest mastermind and networking group, are things like the content and so I am a Certified Magnetic Marketing Adviser with GKIC (Glaser-Kennedy Insider’s Circle) they’re a large organization that’s dedicated to helping small businesses and they have fantastic content. I’ve been through a lot of different programs, courses, books, seminars, retreats, signed up for all kinds of different groups, and this group is one of the best I’ve ever seen in terms of delivering fantastic content that works for small business owners so I chose personally to partner with them and we are by extension with this group partnering with them to help provide the content.
Jesse Stoddard: 25:11
And so every month we get this fantastic information that we can share with business owners—that’s already been tested and used in the marketplace by many other businesses sometimes hundreds or thousands, producing multiple millions of dollars, and it worked for them, and it will work for you too. And so I would I would urge you to not think, “But my business is different”. Yes, businesses are different but marketing is marketing and a lot of things will work across different industries. So I want to challenge you—don’t think, “Well will this work for me?” Think, “How can I make this work for me?”
Jesse Stoddard: 25:45
Because there’s a lot of ideas that you could make work with some minor modifications in altercation so… Alterations! Not altercations… that would be like a fight—which we couldn’t do because of the renegade word. First rule of Renegade Entrepreneurs of the Pacific Northwest: First rule is you don’t talk about Renegade Entrepreneurs of the Pacific Northwest… and then you have to have to fight to the death to get in the group. That’s the one part I didn’t mention that there will be a mandatory fight between you and a few of the other members. If you survive that then you’ll get to get access to the group. Is that a good way to do it?
Keith Eneix: 25:45
That sounds good to me.
Jesse Stoddard: 25:45
Okay so again focus on, on your business versus in your business.
Keith Eneix: 26:28
Tough thing to do.
Jesse Stoddard: 26:28
General networking groups. Now we’re not putting down other networking groups in fact I still love BNI’s and LeTip’s of the world and the Chambers of Commerce. I would actually encourage you to be involved in those. But in addition to that you should be involved in this. In fact they’re not mutually exclusive. I would say that if anything this is a whole ‘nother level and a whole ‘nother layer to that. You could even tell your groups that they might want to have at least one member of their group come to this and who knows they might recruit some of our people for their thing and we’d like to recruit people for our thing, of course, if it’s a good fit—if it’s the right business. Any other words that we should mention.
Keith Eneix: 27:05
No. Just where should people go to learn more about this?
Jesse Stoddard: 27:09
Yeah. So with this video we’re going to include a link and there’s going to be quite a bit of information on upcoming meetings. This is a once a month meeting. And then of course there will be communication throughout the month. But we didn’t want to overburden people. So we have that typically near the the the beginning of the month and we’ll have a link included somewhere below this video or included with this video that you can check out and learn more.