August 31, 2014

Not much there – Rainmakers Networking in Dayton

 

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.)

What Rainmakers looked like when it was starting up

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.

What now?

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.

My recomendation

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 • peter@photosbypdemott.com

Profile portraits can say a lot about you

I’ve been attending the Rainmakers meetings on Wednesday mornings at 9am at the Penera Bread on Brown Street near the University of Dayton Campus. We have also encouraged people to go to www.gorainohio.ning.com and put up a profile page, but several folks did not have profile portraits to use and a couple needed upgrades. I suggested that a better profile portrait would reflect more professionally when people saw it.

It amazes me what people are willing to put up as profile images on networking web sites. Out of focus, poorly lit, outdated old images, or new ones that your cannot see for one reason or another. In any case, I decided that since I am a photographer  (part time), I would offer to upgrade or provide initial images for anyone on gorainohio who wanted one. At last week’s meeting I brought my camera and here are some of the portraits that I created.

RR3D0575 RR3D0582 RR3D0597

RR3D0594 RR3D0602 RR3D0606

RR3D0623

I delivered all these via email except one which I need an email address for. Everyone has been delighted with images. Each represented an improvement or the replacement of an empty box on the profile page. Each, I think, presents the person in a professional light.

Allen Promotional Products

I had a great meeting with Allen Nelson of Allen Promotional Products. As he says on his business card, “Our business Keeps Your Business in Front of Your Customers.” He helps businesses, churches, event planners, teams to have give-away and promotional items that stay with the people.

What stays with the people? He showed me some items that he actually uses for himself, but the idea is to give something away that will have lasting value and be used rather than those squeeze balls and other throw aways and useless items. He likes people to look at things like refillable mini portfolios (for the smaller legal pads) and things that can be used rather than things that just add to the clutter and make their way into the trash can in a couple of days. I though this was a good strategy. In  fact I have a nice portfolio that was given to me over 5 years ago which has my company logo on the front.

With regard to networking and being specific with requests, I suggested that he bring samples of items to each networking meeting and hand them out to the participants. For example he could bring 20 imprinted golf balls and say,”I’m looking for business owners that are golfer or anyone planning a golf outing for fundraiser involving golf.” This way as networking group participants are about their business, they could have an item handy to show to folks they encounter and just ASK, “I know a guy who does this type of imprinting, is this something you ever need… are you planning any events this year?”

Asking questions as you know from my previous posts, is a critically important thing for any sales person and any business owner. It never hurts to ASK and many times you will find out things that can help you or your business to prosper. When I ask questions I also share the resources that I have at my finger tips because of my experience with the other businesses that I work with.

Allen Promotional Products / Allen Nelson 937-718-1729

http://allenpromo.logomall.com/

I appreciated the meeting and now Allen knows something about the kinds of clients that I am looking for and I know about the clients he is looking for. I also know that he is a smaller operation and because of that he has much more flexibility to get things done according to the needs of the client instead of the other way around. If you need or want to look at items that you can give away at your next event, he can do it all (large and small projects), but he just may have the personalized service that you need and the advice that will make a difference in the long run.