Peer Groups vs Business Groups vs Networking Groups – What’s the Difference?
Last time we shared what a peer group is. You could be forgiven for thinking they weren’t that common. Yet peer groups are incredibly diverse, wide-spread and mature.
Between them common peer groups such as Vistage, Young Presidents Organisation (YPO) and Entrepreneurs Organisation (EO) cover hundreds of countries, have thousands of members and influence billions of dollars in revenue.
There are three main flavours of peer groups;
- Role based (like CEO’s, New Managers, Chief Marketing Officers)
- Industry specific (like IT, Construction, Dentists)
- Size specific (Million Dollar Sales, $100 Million+ Revenue, 50+ Staff)
Of course you also get the combination of any of those three and there is even a peer group for people who run peer groups!
Unlike peer groups which can be very intimate, focus on growth, share financials, involve coaching and include accountability business groups are much more relaxed. They’re often made up of companies who benefit through knowledge sharing, group discounts, best practices, industry research and so on.
There can be a strong overlap between a business groups and associations due to their focus and as a Microsoft Partner there are some great choices;
- International Association of Microsoft Channel Partners (IAMCP)
- The ASCII Group
- Computing Technology Industry Association (CompTIA)
Whether it is Business Networking International (BNI) or your local Chamber of Commerce most of us should be familiar with a networking group.
Designed to meet regularly, connect and build relationships, the aim and benefit of these groups is to help others and hopefully get new business. Kind of like a rite of passage when you start out as a Microsoft Partner you eventually find yourself in a networking group of some kind.
The right approach in networking is everything and this quote sums that up well - "You can have everything in life you want if you will just help enough other people get what they want" - Zig Ziglar
Where Do You Start?
Part of our journey at Leap Consulting when we started was trying to work out how to build our sales pipeline. Back in the days of Microsoft Small Business Server we would look for any small business that needed IT. Not the greatest strategy but one of our clients introduced us to BNI and without much research we signed up (mostly not to reject our customer).
We worked out a better strategy and whilst BNI was a good learning ground that helped us hone our pitch and message we soon found ourselves wanting more. It was at this point that we hopped on the peer group bus and never looked back.
There is nothing like being able to sit down and compare with others in your industry who understand your language, challenges, models and approach. That process can end up breaking through the barrier that is holding you back or fast forward you through whatever issue you’re facing.
In our case we leverage the power of an IT industry specific peer group like HTG with the experience and impact of EO so we get the best of both worlds. However we’re also part of CompTIA and our local Chamber of Commerce.
So no matter where you are along the business growth curve there is a resource to get you further faster!