The Branding Power of Business Networking

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For this piece I am interviewing Chris Pareja, founder of B2BpowerExchange.com, a leads group for “true B2B business developers”. Chris started the organization over three years ago as a means of cultivating substantial B2B (business-to-business) business opportunities for himself and others. Chris felt that normal business networking groups weren’t generating opportunities for him of the caliber he was seeking. To him, these organizations were primarily focused on exchanging retail-focused leads and not business-to-business opportunities which is where his focus was.

What follows is my interview with Chris…

Kevin: What does branding mean to you Chris?

Chris: It is the essence of how your business is perceived, not only inside your company but also by external audiences. I think too many people deliberately develop a brand independent of who they are and it winds up not being congruent. Brands are based in large part on one’s own personality and culture, and a brand should be an extension of you. It cannot be contrived. Your brand is how you are perceived, the words you say, the things you do, what you communicate on your website. It is what people say about your company when you aren’t around.

Kevin: Can you please talk about extending your brand through external parties?

Chris: There are two challenges to businesses extending their brand through external surrogates: first is how they articulate their value proposition to a customer – and, if they can get through to the second step – number 2 is helping others effectively articulate their brand for them. Some businesses struggle with succinct positioning. Those that can effectively articulate their value can equip partners, contacts, etc. with the ammo they need to sell their brand when they aren’t around.

Kevin: Do you have any advice for developing effective messaging?

Chris: A good rule of thumb I use to keep messages simple and easy to relay is to keep it “grandma playing bingo” simple. If your grandma can tell her friends at bingo what you do, and they “get it”, then it’s a successful value articulation.

Kevin: What made you decide to create your own networking organization?

Chris: Recognizing the power of third party branding and promotion, I started my own business networking organization to help businesses do just that. I wanted to help my business, prospects, marketing clients, and others extend their brands through other like-minded business professionals. In doing so, we all benefit from leveraging third-party branding support without doing all of the work ourselves.

Kevin: Tell us about your networking organization

Chris: B2BpowerExchange helps entrepreneurs, consultants, salespeople and others extend their brand to the right audiences through relationships with others who are targeting the same types of clients – senior level executives at B2B companies.

Kevin: What kinds of professionals belong to your organization?

Chris: Business professionals across the board, from marketing to sales to HR to service providers to CPAs and lawyers. We also have application developers, business process consultants, commercial real estate professionals, industrial solar power providers and much more.

Kevin: You said all of these businesses are targeting the same types of clients. Tell us about these potential clients.

Chris: Every member of B2BpowerExchange is selling to director-level executives and above in companies. This includes CIOs, CEOs, COOs, CFOs, VPs of sales/marketing, IT, HR, etc.

Kevin: Can you talk about the size and breadth of your organization?

Chris: Today we officially have 28 breakfast meetings a month covering 3 states – this is across several regional chapters. We expect to add two more states in the next 60 days and our goal is to increase our monthly meetings to 40-60 by the end of the year. We hold our meetings online as well as in-person based on region, metro area or according to specific interest areas. We are primarily U.S. based today but we do have individuals participating from Mexico, Toronto, Philippines, Ukraine and other countries. It helps our members reach into areas where they are not physically located and develop bonds with others around world that can bring them into deals they would otherwise not have exposure to.

Kevin: Can you give us an example or two of the power of your the organization

Chris: We had a consultant in the commercial energy space connect with someone in the commercial property space within his first month of membership. This business connection yielded him an $800K business opportunity that closed less than two weeks later. We recently had a marketing consultant, for example, bringing in an advertising sales rep for a half-million dollar deal. We have application development firms (technology) closing deals upwards of $250,000 based on connections they make through our organization. Our group provides our members with warm introductions to business prospects they otherwise might not be able to access or ever even know about. This dramatically shortens the sales process. In essence we’re providing business introductions to professionals through trusted relationships.

We also have many of our members partnering up to expand their own business capabilities with those of other companies. This in turn strengthens both brands. This teaming enables our professionals to deliver value to clients they couldn’t provide before on their own.

Kevin: You own your own business, aside from the B2BpowerExchange, correct?

Chris: Yes I do. My company is called LeadGenaires. We’re a marketing consultancy that breaks down barriers between sales, marketing and the management team resulting in measurable marketing programs.

Kevin: How has B2B extended your brand?

Chris: When I first started LeadGenaires and was in business for only one year, I was dong okay but not flourishing. After my first year starting B2B, I already was landing clients in multiple parts of the country. Today, I truly have more work than I can handle. Through B2B connections, I am also able to secure frequent speaking engagements, book writing opportunities and further extend my visibility – regionally, nationally and internationally.

Kevin: How many people leverage B2BpowerExchange today?

Chris: We have about 900 individuals participating around the world at various levels with 145 official members.

Kevin: How can people learn more about B2BpowerExchange and sign up themselves?

Chris: They can visit www.b2bpowerexchange.com, call 925-201-3410 or email me directly at [email protected] I’ll help get them connected right away. I really enjoy seeing people connect, collaborate, and mutually succeed.

By Kevin B. Levi
www.winningmessage.com
www.muckrakeronline.com

Comments

  1. Wow, great organization. I belong to two networking groups in Detroit. Both don’t have the audience that this one does. I will be seriously checking them out. Thanks for exposing them to us. I’m curious what is discussed during the online meetings. I am a charter member of a small group of companies from 3 states and a province who meet quarterly to discuss best practices. I find it extremely motivating. Good networking Kevin. This interview wouldn’t be available as a poscast would it?

  2. Sounds like you’re the one doing all the networking Ed! Glad you like my post. I think Chris’s organization is really something and continues to gain momentum. It’s already formidable in size and growing!

    I did the interview over the phone and did not record it. Sorry!

    Kevin