I have asked this before and I will ask it again: “Where does networking end? “
I am a member of a group called PRE (Professional Referral Exchange) that meets every Thursday for lunch and networking. PRE has a unique view on networking because at PRE networking never ends. In fact the premise is that we work as each other’s sales force; always trying to promote not just ourselves but others in the group as well.
Our PRE group is original in a number of ways, and not just because we are a group of professionals that want to help each other in any way we can. A PRE group enlists as many professionals as it can but only one representative of each business category; for example I am the only photographer in the group, Walter is the Personal Financial Manager, Dana the one Business Banker, Bob the only website designer, and so on.
As I mentioned before we are each other’s sales force. Of course I have made referrals and introductions to bring two businesses together, but it goes beyond that. We truly do work for each other. Just yesterday I was at the local Home Depot picking up a few things and one of them being fuses, a woman and I started talking about the cost of electricity and how expensive power is getting. Well in our PRE group we have a gentleman who is in the power supply business. This gentleman also happens to be a pastor and his name is Paster, so we call him Pastor Paster.
I took the time to speak to the woman I met in line at Home Depot and told her that Pastor Paster could possibly help her with her energy bills and that he is not the type person that just goes knocking on doors, he will only speak about his power business when asked. I gave her my card and Pastor Paster’s card and we parted ways.
That is what is different about PRE, not only do we make recommendations and introductions but we are willing to tell people about our colleagues’ businesses. By spending one lunch a week together we learn about each other and our businesses on a whole different level. This gives us a unique ability to be advocates for each other. It feels good to know that there is someone other than myself out there driving my business forward, but it is an even better feeling helping others drive their businesses.
Our group is a bit different than other PRE groups too; we tend to be a bit goofy at times but that makes it fun and makes it more personal too. Our president Eleanor had a brief speech impediment one week and had problems introducing our new Real Estate Agent, Damon as “Raymond… Damon, Da-Ra!” and this shall now be his name forever; well at least on Thursday’s at lunchtime.
We have a heckler lawyer, a twisting (as in the dance) large format print man, a guitar playing and singing fulfillment coach, a salsa dancing personal beauty consultant, a former football star now travel consultant, a motorcycle riding small business legal consultant, a highly fashionable Internet Cash Flow Consultant, and a slightly psychotic photographer-wait, that would be me!
My point is that we not only do business with each other, we do business for each other.
My name is Michael Albany, photographer; who can I introduce you to today?