Thanks Jordan, really great article.
I too struggle with the online "networks" and the time they can take. And how valuable is a potential connection on Facebook who adds you as a "friend" but can't even write a note to say why they want to be "friends"? (I swear I get one of those every day.)
One thing I like about Biznik is the combination of face-to-face with online. When you've seen someone at a few events, you really start to get to know them!
I know you're referring to BNI or LeTip type groups when you say "non-competing." I have seen those groups work better for some industries than others. I think this is the reason:
How many people need insurance of some kind? If you drive or own a home (or want renter's insurance), you need insurance! That's what, 98% of us? It's a no-brainer for an insurance agent to be networking in that way, especially with real estate agents, financial planners and mortgage loan officers.
People with more "niche" industries might not get as big of a bang for their buck from a group like that. If 98% of people need insurance an insurance agent, how many people perceive a need for a custom furniture refinisher or a recording engineer? 3%? 2%? 1%?
For some industries, it might make sense to find ways to cast a "broader" net than what can be found in a group of 20 or 30 people. It might make sense to meet as many people as possible, rather than meet with the same people week after week. It could make sense to attend multiple "meet-ups", events, and low-cost groups.
Or... it might make even more sense to stay at home and design a highly effective, targeted website or blog with killer SEO. And if you're an internet marketer, there might be no better plan than meeting a whole lot of people online.
I've been thinking about this lately... I'll call it the marketing maze. The best way to nagivate the maze and come out the other side with clients will not be the same for each of us.
But you raise some excellent questions here. No matter what your business, there is a difference between quality and quantity. (Even an internet marketer can benefit more from one quality joint venture partner than 10,000 low-quality "leads".)