By Mark Edmunds, BforB Regional Director, Coventry, Kenilworth, Birmingham

Everyone attends business networking events these days. It’s the norm to try to grow your business and build quality relationships. But ask yourself a question: out of those relationships you try to build, how many are empty promises?

In my time I have found you sometimes meet the odd genuine one, but too often you get the hangers on; the ones that are only interested in what they can get from you, rather than giving as well as taking.

I have, over the years, carried business owners with me, thinking nothing of it and passing them lots of business; but then received nothing in return. Not so much as one referral. So I’ve now relinquished my relationship with those businesses. They can find their own referrals!

Networking has been a big part of my working life. I love supporting other business owners, and I genuinely don’t ask much in return. And that’s why, last year, I decided to buy a franchise with Business for Breakfast – known nationwide simply as BforB.

What I liked specifically about BforB is that the meetings run along the same principles I had when I ran my own events: bringing together quality business owners and like-minded businesses who can do business with each other – but in a relaxed, friendly environment, free of any expectation, and certainly with no one ever under pressure.

Essentially, we all support each other, and benefit from each other’s knowledge and experience.

So here’s a question: would you rather attend an event with 50-plus businesses represented in the room, only a handful of which you really get to know or exchange referrals, or 15-20 quality business owners?

To have 15 quality business owners in a room is, in my opinion, far better to establish your credentials, and for you to both grow together. In my experience, networking with 50 business takes a lot longer to build relationships, and the chances are – as I found far too often – too many only want to see what they can get out of you, which is soul destroying.

With BforB you are joining a family; its nationwide, and as some of our members have found out, they are they getting referrals not just from within their own groups, but are also working with other groups in the country. This is a fantastic opportunity for all involved.

The groups I’ve launched are in Birmingham, Kenilworth, and Coventry are all growing at a steady but quality rate, and we would welcome any businesses who are serious about growing their business by developing loyal and reciprocal relationships to join us. I’m looking to open another group in Coventry, and one in Rugby.

I have worked in the sales and marketing industry since 1981, and have vast knowledge of many sectors. I have been around the business networking scene for more years than I care to remember, and experience has taught me what works and what doesn’t.

But I love it when I bring business owners together and of all the networking groups I’ve been involved with, I passionately believe in the BforB format.