Why do we allow ourselves to be kept out of the box and impact our livelihood? All too often, business leaders are met with roadblocks which are more easily worked around with the assistance of other business owners. This collaboration is networking at its best.
Why is it that there are exclusive business clubs/organizations in communities where business is at a standstill or receding that continue to put a premium price on networking? As an example see an association of small businesses in Northeast Ohio which advertises that for a $1,000/year membership; "This membership level is designed to give you greater opportunities to network with other leading area companies, increase your visibility in the community." An organization such as this does not appear to be promoting small businesses but rather raising money for other purposes and promoting businesses which have the backing of the establishment.
There are many legitimate costs of doing business, but paying to network should not be one of them.
All business owners need to know that that box is the box that they need to think out of, the box which restricts membership, the box which says that permission is needed. Business owners/entrepreneurs need to know that there are hundreds, if not thousands, of people in the region just like them, who would love to share information, ideas, resources. Businesses need to talk with their competitors, suppliers, and customers as well as neighbors.
A resource which many business people are discovering is their local library. Many libraries are partnering with business owners and presenting business informational programs and civic forums. Networking in the civic space is free or at least no more costly the the time you take to particpate.
[see I-Open and its links]