Through my mentor, I was introduced to BNI Santana Row. Last week I attended my first meeting and met some fellow entrepreneurs. As soon as I walked in, I was handed a huge stack of member's business cards and encouraged to leave a stack of my own business cards for members to have themselves. Who likes a networking event where you gain contact information without actual contact? Me. Me.
The group has a family feel and the premise of the organization is to get to genuinely know people in the group so you can refer them to clients and friends. In turn, you gain referrals from other members. There are some quirky sayings like, "givers gain" and slips to show that you have been meeting face to face with members and making referrals. Overall, I thought it is pretty organized.
I'm not sure I will be joining this particular group because they have someone that has a similar business to mine already in the group. To preserve the integrity of the group, only one person in each field can join. I was assured that another group probably has room for me.
The community has been nice in the virtual world as well. My LinkedIn has blown up with added contacts.