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As part of the Network overview series, we are going to focus on Venture Business Network.
Venture Business Network, also shortened to Venture, is an Irish based business to business networking group. Their tagline is: ‘We Collaborate, We Join Forces and We Succeed Together.’
In networking circles, it is what is termed as a referral network. It specialises in connecting businesses with other businesses (B2B), as opposed to businesses who want to connect with consumers (B2C).
Their focus is on developing trusted relationships with like minded business people. Based on trust, fellow members of Venture confidently introduce one another to their contacts, championing them as experts in their chosen professions.
One Seat Per Profession
In referral networks, there is often a one seat per profession policy and this is the case with Venture Business Network.
What this means is that there can’t be two of any profession in the same group, e.g. two accountants in one group or two solicitors or two website designers, and so on.
Let’s have a look at how Venture Business Network is structured.
Where & When
Prior to #Covid19, Venture had built up to six groups within the Dublin & Wicklow area.
These were in:
- Dublin 1 (D1)
- Dublin 15 (D15)
As everything is now online, there are four virtual meetings held each week.
- Tuesday 10am – Montrose Group
- Thursday 7am – Sandyford Group
- Friday 7am – Beacon Group
- Friday 10am – Bray Group
Members, also known as Venturians, are encouraged to attend 10/15 minutes earlier to engage in some informal networking, before the meeting kicks off at the top of the hour.
How is Venture Structured?
Each group runs to essentially the same format and timings. Each meeting is facilitiated by a Chair and the formal meeting runs for 1 1/2 hours. This time does not include the informal networking that I mention above.
Each group has a leadership team, comprised of:
- Education Coordinator
- Top5 Champion
The team changes from time to time, so it’s a great opportunity to develop some hosting skills and leadership skills, if this is of interest to you.
Education & Presentations
60 Seconds For All
All Venturians and guests have the opportunity to introduce themselves and their business to the group for 60 seconds. This is where the all important ‘elevator pitch’ comes into play. You can get a few ideas and tips on developing elevator pitches in my blog, ACEing it with Maureen McCowen.
As scheduled by the Education Coordinator, one business has 20 minutes to talk in more depth about her or his business. This includes time for questions and answers.
Each member has the opportunity to be scheduled to deliver a Golden Nugget. Again, this is organised by the Education Coordinator and goes on rotation.
The Golden Nugget is a little piece of business intelligence that is shared with the group. It’s no more than two or three minutes and usually entails a hack, tip, advice, marketing updates or a technique in business that someone finds useful and shares with the group in a collective learning scenario. It’s essentially a bite sized learning opportunity.
Business Successes & Opportunities
From there, the meeting progresses to Business Successes and Opportunities, where the Top5 Champion engages with the group to find out who has being active in the past week.
The Top5 Champion takes a note of all progress in a booklet, specially designed to tally the figures after each meeting. These figures are then reported on at the following week’s meeting.
The purpose of the statistics is to keep a level of accountability, responsibility and ownership for each member of Venture.
The following metrics are noted as part of the Business Successes and Opportunities section of the meeting. These metrics are between Venture members.
- Number of 1-2-1s
- Number of new connections or introductions
- Number of new leads or referrals
- Number of business won
- Number of repeat business
- Number of visitors
What is key, and a core differentiator with Venture Business Network is the referral system. In Venture it’s called the Top5.
All members can log into the portal via the website to access their unique company page. Upon acceptance into membership, the name of the company, person and email are logged to create a new portal page.
Each week, Venturians are asked to upload the name of a company and person with whom they would like to connect. There is an open text box, that allows Venturians to outline why they want to be connected with this company and to give a further bit of background and context.
This is often useful as it encourages people to look at Linkedin and their own contact pool to see who might know the person being asked for.
This process is followed for five weeks and on the sixth week there is a review week. This is a recap of all entries for the previous five weeks.
This is important for three reasons:
- The first time you heard of the name or company, you might not have known them and you have since connected with them.
- A Venturian who has the contact may not have attended one week and is the conduit to make an introduction.
- A visitor may be in the room and they are in a position to make an introduction.
Members get the opportunity of getting a spotlight put on their business from time to time, so it’s a good idea to keep an eye out on the various channels.
In 2020, Venture set up Venture Talks Podcast, which gives all its members the opportunity to record their own podcast. For many small and solo business owners, it’s a new experience, so that’s always good!
But it’s also a great way of learning some background on the businesses and their development. It’s often wonderful and interesting content that emerges on the back of the interview, that business owners mightn’t necessarily share during a 1-2-1 or at the weekly meetings.
Covid19 has played a part is displacing some of the usual activity, but in a ‘normal’ year, quarterly events, with guest speakers, would be scheduled. These events are open to all members to come together to learn and to network outside their specific group.
Visiting Other Groups
Where a seat is free, Venturians are encouraged to visit other groups to leverage their membership and their involvement in the business network. There is also the opportunity to present to other groups, where appropriate and where there is an open slot.
Venture Golf Society
In 2020, a golf society was set up to further offer more value to members and give them other social networking opportunities. Covid19 ensured that there were only two outings in the end, however 2021 will offer a host of new opportunities, ably led by the golf committee.
Non members as well as members are welcome to get involved.
How To Get Involved
As I always advise people who are exploring new networks, try before you buy.
And what I mean by that is, visit a group or more groups to get an overall flavour of who is in the network and in a particular group that maybe of interest to you due to geography, time or day of week.
Although you’ll have a ‘home’ group, once your seat is free, you’ll be able to visit other groups, which is encouraged.
You can request an application form from Shay Cahill, whose details are noted above.
You fill out the application form and this is sent around to the current members for validation and acceptance.
Should any member deem there to be too much conflict with an application, an alternative group is suggested for Venture involvement.
Payment comes in one of two ways. The full fee can be paid upon receipt of invoice. There is a once off administration fee in year 1.
Alternatively, the administration fee and one month fee can be paid in the first month and then each month is taken on direct debit.
Profiling Your Networks
If you are involved in a network and would like to have it profiled, reach out to me and we’ll set up an interview time!
Keeping in Contact with Networkingjean.ie
If you have other ideas and suggestions, I’d love to hear them. You can reach out to me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Let’s keep the #networking conversation going! You can join my mailing list too and I’d love to have you on board.
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