Freelancers’ lunch

We shoulda been in pictures!

But we weren’t, because we were too busy talking and making awesome connections. (So I’m pasting some non-in situ photos and links here.)

 Kaiti

 

 

 

 

 

Today, my friends Alison (an honest and passionate real estate agent) and Kaiti (an incisive and graceful designer and developer) convened our first Freelancers’ Lunch, an opportunity for a half-dozen (okay, seven) fun entrepreneurial types to talk about what we do, ask each other questions and seek advice, and see if any biz connections came readily to mind. (Yes, this was also the outgrowth of our semi-hashed summer experiment: Trying to Form a BNI Group in North Brooklyn. Only Alison succeeded with her burgeoning Influentials group. Go Alison!!)

 

 

 

 

 

 

I knew I’d have fun with these guys; I know them all (and many of them already knew each other) and was looking forward to having lunch with them no matter what. But I was truly surprised by how much we had to offer each other—especially considering how many of us were already friends!

  • A former intern of Claire’s might be able to do some work for Kaiti.
  • Alison knows someone working on a film that Mike could possibly do sound for.
  • Kaiti wants to introduce recording engineer Lily to a badass female bass player she knows.

The connections probably numbered in the dozens, and everyone took care to make actual notes to follow up (that’s right—I don’t do business with flakes).

Claire Taylor Hansen Lily

 

 

 

 

 

 

And even beyond potential work introductions, people were batting a thousand:

“I’d like to meet a good mortgage broker…”

“Do you know of a good, free CRM?”

“What’s a nice restaurant downtown for client lunches?”

DONE.

We’re planning to convene again after the holidays, and will try to get a few more heads in the mix. Even though I’m a classic hippy-dippy, bleeding-heart people person, I admit I doubted the power of the personal network at the beginning of my freelance life. But I’ve gotten 90% of my rent-making business in the past year through personal connections, and 90% of my clients have been absolute joys to work with (the other 10% weren’t rotten, either).

So I can now personally attest to the professional as well as personal efficacy of keeping your relationships up. Talk to people you like: tell them what you need and listen to what they need. Then write it down and follow up.

Repeat. Enjoy.

Join my networking cult?

A couple of months ago, I got an invite from a friend-of-a-friend who was interested in forming a new North Brooklyn chapter of the business networking organization BNI. I had heard of BNI, but had (quite luckily and happily) always been too busy working to check it out.

However, this personal invitation grabbed me. I’d be founding a new group (fun professional development activity), with this friend-of-a-friend who I totally hit it off with (fun social activity), and would almost certainly gain some new business connections (fun $$$).

Ladies of BNI

The photo of our founding members I’m sending out with all my email invites. Who wouldn’t want to join us?!

But it turns out it’s a pretty long and involved process to get a group started, and as we go through the paces, I admit I’m experiencing bouts of cold feet.

Here’s a plusses and minuses rundown—maybe you can help me decide if I should continue?

Pros:

  • BNI has been around for 30ish years, is based on the who-could-argue-with-that? premise “Givers Gain,” and bazillions of business owners and sole proprietors around the world seem to swear by it.
  • Chapter groups’ weekly meetings are usually held in hilarious old-school diners (around here, anyway), so members can look forward to a hearty breakfast and bottomless cuppa joe with their fellows as they sharpen their elevator pitches and swap referrals.
  • There’s a whole lotta small business going on in North Brooklyn these days, with an especially hot injection of “creatives” in recent years. Business-swapping opportunities abound!

Cons:

  • Meetings are every week at 7:00 am. ’nuff said.
  • There are dues, to the tune of about $100 a month, all told.
  • Nine out of ten times I tell someone about BNI, they ask, “Is this a cult?”

So, dear readers, what do you think? Have you heard of BNI? What’s your impression? Had any experiences with it yourself? If you were me, what would you do?