Lots of our Marketing Mentor clients are members of Business Networking International. They attend a weekly meeting in a non-competitive environment where the goal is not to sell to the people in the room but to sell "through them" to their network.
This works for some and not for others. I have never attended a BNI meeting but I did recently join the Breakfast Network here in NYC which offers monthly (instead of weekly) meetings, plus cocktail parties and educational events.
One business owner I met last week at the cocktail party told me that the best way to use the network is to meet with people outside the group, one-on-one, and get to know each other that way. But some people don’t have time for that. In fact, for those who can’t commit to lots of extracurricular coffee and lunches, BNI may be the best bet. Their weekly meeting allows participants to get to know each other better through the more frequent meetings.