The fall of Rainmakers in the Dayton Market
This blog entry is a reflection of my personal opinions regarding Rainmaker networking in Dayton, Ohio. It is not meant to hinder the rebirth of Rainmakers here if it occurs. The DO NOT LIKE button is to say that I am disappointed, not that I do not like Rainmakers and the model presented.
You see, I was one of the original 10-20 people that started meeting at the Penera Bread near UD campus at the start of Rainmakers in Ohio. I have been supportive of Rainmakers from the start because I thought the program was interesting and innovative. I liked the idea of being able to attend several different HUBs to make connections and give and receive referrals. I didn’t have to work very hard to find new connections and I frequently invited my business associates to meetings to introduce them to others.
The value must be there for people to invest money in the program
However, there was a problem. Actually two problems. First, although some of the meetings were quite large to start with, there was always the presentation including the “here’s what it takes to join” speech. People were expected to join before they could determine if there would be a return on their investment. We heard over and over that businesses in Indianapolis were getting a very good return on their investment, but I don’t think there was much happening here in Dayton. Even so, people were encouraged to join up at a “discounted” rate and lock it there for the foreseeable future. What a great deal that would be!
With many meetings occurring each month in Dayton, and seeming to be doing well, the headquarters in Indianapolis quickly faded out the discounted rate and started presenting full price at the meetings. Now, you have to understand, in Indianapolis there are/were 30-40 different meetings each month available to attend and network as a member. There was also a monthly “event” in Indianapolis where everyone was encouraged to come and where hundreds of people attend/attended. But, here in Dayton, there were 5-6 Hub events per month and there was no “Big Event” to attend. The price to join reflected a value much higher (the value of being a member in Indianapolis) than what was being provided (the value available to members in Dayton).
Should I renew my membership?
As I reflected on the invoice that arrived in the mail earlier this year, I could not justify paying it. I had done my “one-to-one” appointments. I had encouraged others to visit. I had given others good referrals from time to time. But, I was not getting a return on even my discounted investment for yearly membership. I was not getting what I would call a healthy number of referrals for my investment of time and money in the group. I decided to attend some more meetings to give it the old college try before sending in another year’s membership dues.
The meetings were evaporating left and right
Here is what I found. Each meeting that I attended was smaller and smaller and the focus became, “what needs to happen to reinvent Rainmakers in Dayton?” (Funny thing was that even at these meetings, referrals were not being given. Suddenly Rainmakers leadership closed down some of the HUBS or they just ran out of people willing to make them happen and/or suggested that they should join one of the other meetings in hopes of keeping the large meeting chemistry alive. Soon there was only one meeting occurring at all (it is still meeting, I believe) with numbers around 5-10-15 per meeting. (I deleted my posts about Cadillac Jacks meeting, the Troy meeting, the brown street meeting, the after hours Town and Country meeting, all of which are no longer functioning groups.)
The internet aspect of the group is also down to a slow trickle with the only posts being a discussion of “what are your favorite motivational quotes”. I guess it’s time to pull the plug on investing time there as well. Again, the value of referrals given and received is not there. The Linked-In Ohio group and the Rain Ohio ning forum are both showing announcements about events from 6 months ago as if they were going to happen tomorrow. I did not want to add to that confusion by leaving up posts that were about Rainmaker HUBs that have been disbanded.
I added the DO NOT LIKE button to this post because I truly did like the model as it was presented during the first meetings of Rainmakers in Dayton. I am very disappointed at how things have gone in recent months.
What were the mistakes?
1) Although the activities at the HUB meetings were great ice-breakers, there needed to be more focus on actually committing to giving good referrals to others at the meetings. Some were excited with just getting to know people with no accountability to providing value in the form of referrals.
2) Prices were raised too fast before the value had developed for the area. 5-6 HUB groups is significantly less than the 30-40 that were going on each month in Indianapolis. It became very clear that the value was not there as the meetings were quickly reducing in size at the time of membership renewal as people had to consider if they would continue on the anniversary of when they officially joined.
3) There are lower cost organizations for networking here in the Dayton market. Although I was very supportive of the Rainmakers model as it was initially presented, management clearly did not have a handle on if there was enough value for members for them to want to renew. This created a death spiral for which we will see if they are able to recover from. Some of that was due to the people who joined because of the excitement of the new group in Dayton without putting forth any effort to provide referrals to the people they met. With FREE and lower cost opportunities to network available, without the value of good referrals being given, why would anyone continue to pay $200, $300, $400, or even close to $500 for an annual membership.
I will continue to check things out from time to time with Rainmakers in Dayton, however I have removed all my posts about the various meetings that used to be on the calendar with Rainmakers in Dayton (Most have shut down).
I still enjoy visiting other referral networking type groups and will certainly review them here on my blog for all to see. A healthy networking group is worth paying for when people within the group are committed to giving each other support and referrals for their businesses.
Whenever you visit a networking group, plan to visit a minimum of two times before making a commitment to join if there are membership dues. Be willing to give referrals to others before expecting referrals from others, but at the same time look around and see if business is happening on those first several visits to the group. Ask others in the group if they are getting value from their participation, then make a commitment to participate fully in whichever group/s you choose.
Why do YOU think Rainmakers in Dayton has fallen so fast?
If you have thought about what caused the precipitous fall of Rainmakers in Dayton, please click on the comment button and tell me your thoughts.
Peter DeMott • 937-478-6222 • firstname.lastname@example.org