There are some important distinctions between professional networks (like the Pro50) and leads groups. To me, leads groups – by their very design – have several shortcomings/flaws.
To begin with, pretty much anyone can join a leads group. As long as there isn’t another professional in your category, you can join the group by paying their monthly fee. There’s no mechanism to ensure a member is good at what they do. Additionally, there’s no “theme” to the group. Members often come from a variety of unrelated industries and professions.
A second shortcoming is that – since the purpose of the leads group is to give and get leads – many people join in hopes of getting leads, but rarely give any leads. They often don’t do much to build their own book of business. The consequence of this is that generally only 2 or 3 members pass along leads, while the rest are passive – hoping to get leads from others.
And a third flaw is the premise that members will give one another leads/opportunities simply because they’re sitting at the same table. We all know it doesn’t work like that. We only give leads to people we like and trust.
In contrast, professional networks only consider members who have a good reputation. Therefore, everyone in the network can be trusted to do quality work.
Secondly, the purpose of a professional network is to find the best solution for a client, rather than to simply give and get leads for the sake of “scoring points”. In a targeted network, it’s far more likely that you’ll find a good solution to your client’s problem, so giving and getting leads occurs naturally.
And the third distinction is that there are generally several professionals within any given category. This affords you the opportunity to find the one or two professionals you “click with” in each category, thereby increasing the likelihood of doing business together.
And there’s one more interesting distinction/advantage of a selective professional network. It becomes a great resource. When you send clients to the network website, they can easily identify and screen the additional professionals they need.
Contributed by Michael Beck