Not all networks are the same. If you’re in the wrong network, you won’t get the same results as being in the right network, even if you’re proactive and consistent. The network you pick has a lot to do with the results you get in return for your efforts in working with the network. There are several different propositions out there, like more members are better or organizing around industry niches. Each approach needs a common-sense analysis as to the value they bring. 

Associations, like FIATA or AZ Freight, are not networks. It’s a listing of companies. Networks are groups of companies, interconnected around a proposition that provides the possibility of generating business between members of the network with the help of programs, tools, and support. Networks are active, while associations are passive.

Many networks emphasize their commitments to quality, without defining what that really means. For example, a network that boasts about how big they are may end up generating tons of quote requests from all their members, but may only generate shipments with very little profit. In the end, the cost of non-stop quoting could leave you in the hole. Another example is how newer networks discount memberships or have very low standards of entry as an attempt to build up their network’s membership. 

For a network to work, it must have a minimum level of commitment from all its members. Everyone needs to have some skin in the game, otherwise not everyone is pulling the same weight. If someone pays nothing for their network membership, what level of commitment do you think they bring to the rest of the group? Likewise, if some members pay a deeply discounted introductory rate, does this create a common bond of commitment to everyone working together?

We’ve been in this network space for about 20 years now. We’ve never given a discounted membership, free trials, or free memberships. We might bring in a few more members if we did this, but we firmly believe that all members must have a minimum level of commitment to the group.

We’ve proven over time that good relationships with good companies build great business. This is done far more effectively with a group that's committed to the common goal of proactively building relationships.  

There are several other well-established networks out there that share this belief. It’s about knowing what works and sticking to your values, while ignoring the easy temptations to take short cuts.

So, before joining a network or another network, you may want to stop and consider their approach. If they are luring you in with low or no costs, then your question is whether this is really a network or a phantom network? Working in a phantom network is like working with two hands tied behind your back. You might get results, but at what cost? 

We all know that low cost doesn’t necessarily mean best value. In fact, in the end, it can suck up your time and waste your money.