One of the first steps before starting networking is to determine your goals. Are you looking for clients? Do you want a certain number of qualified leads? Are you looking for vendors? Do you need a power partner? These may determine the type of groups that you’re looking for.
I went to the meetup.com website and typed in “networking.” This returned over 800 groups within 50 miles of my location. This does not include the chamber of commerce groups. Looking back on your goals might help narrow your choices. Here’s a quick overview of some of the types of groups.
Chamber of Commerce
A chamber of commerce is a local organization of businesses whose goal is to further the interests of businesses. Local chambers work to bring the business community together and to develop strong local networks. Many chambers have smaller focus groups (e.g., women in business, young professional network, various committees and teams).
Referral networks (e.g., leads groups, BNI)
These groups are limited to one person (or business) per business category. They typically meet once per week strictly for the purpose of developing leads.
These groups are focused on one industry. They help support and educate about industry specific interests.
Other networking groups
There are many other types of networking groups. Some are for women only, some are open groups that have no limitations on the number of members from any given category, There are even some faith-based groups.
With such a large variety of networking opportunities, it’s important to make time to visit different groups to see what is your best fit. You may get a good feel for a group on one visit or you may need a few different visits to a group to determine if it is a good fit for you and your business. After doing your “test drive” of groups, pick a few and focus your efforts on those groups. Find groups that can give information and education and support and leads.
We will dive deeper into this topic in the coming weeks.
- Promoting your start-up business – Part 5 – Networking (onourbikes.com)
- Want to Join a Networking Group (entrepreneur.com)