3 Keys to Finding and Utilizing Network Groups
I had the pleasure of doing something that I love but find nerve wracking...I joined a new networking group. The scary part is never knowing what to expect. Luckily, this crew is a solid group with a great support structure.
Over the years I have found the benefits of a networking group can go far beyond receiving leads from other companies. Having a group with similar interests to bounce ideas off of once a week can be invaluable when it comes to running a business. I also find there are many small business owners who want to meet people in their industry but don’t know where to find like-minded people.
I introduce to you…”THE NETWORKING GROUP CHEAT SHEET”.
Types of Networking Groups
Start your search by understanding how much time you are willing to commit to the group. Many of these groups are held on a weekly, bi-weekly, or monthly basis. Some are lax when it comes to attendance, but others can require consistent attendance in order for you to join.
Open vs Closed Groups
The biggest difference between an open and closed group is that an open group allows multiple attendees who offer the same services. Open groups are generally free and formed for people to bounce ideas off of each other. A good part of these meetings consist of a roundtable introduction and a guest speaker. Leads are handed out from time-to-time, but usually done on an individual basis.
A closed group usually requires a vetting process for each attendee to make sure there is no overlap with two companies offering the same services. Usually, once a person is in a group they have a permanent spot until they leave or are kicked out. An annual fee is sometimes required as companies prefer the exclusivity. A good portion of these meetings will consist of openly exchanging leads by offering prospects’ contact information for others to call on. Just remember, it is important to give as much as you receive when attending these meetings.
One-Time Hosted Events
If a weekly meeting is hard to commit to, there are also plenty of one-time events that can put you in front of a lot of people. Many of these events are casual and open for anyone to join for a small fee or purchase (food or beverage) at the event facility.
Tips for Joining Networking Groups
Know What You Want to Get Out of Each Networking Group
Are you looking for a lead engine? Are you there to gain input from people in your industry? Knowing what you want before you join can save you time and effort.
Try to Learn the Group’s Expectations Beforehand
It would be helpful to reach out to the organizer or other companies who belong to the group before the first meeting. Some groups have their own etiquette when it comes to exchanging leads.
Have an Elevator Pitch Ready
You will more than likely be required to provide a 1-2 minute elevator pitch during your first meeting. Have one ready and change it up every week by offering tips in your industry.
Promptly follow up with meaningful contacts and individuals who expressed interest in helping you.
Don’t let them forget you. Make sure you receive their card, and email them soon after the meeting or connect with them on LinkedIn. Many times networking is more successful on a one-on-one basis.
Where to Find Networking Groups
Since the birth of social media, the number of networking groups have grown exponentially along with the ease of finding them.
Meetup.com and Eventbrite.com
Meetup.com is free and possibly the largest online resource for finding network groups. Depending on your area, you can find an abundance of groups more than willing to accept participants.
Eventbrite.com is another option that also free and brings along a social aspect.
Facebook is very active when it comes to finding Groups and Events in your area. Simply search the term “networking” and filter the group/event by area and interest.
There are networking opportunities using LinkedIn Groups, however publicizing Events are not yet an option making it a cumbersome process compared to Facebook. There is, however, plenty of opportunity of making contact with the right people and building strong connections.
Want to build contacts and do good at the same time? Volunteering has proven to be a powerful way to meet people, interact with local businesses, and help the less fortunate.
The hardest part about networking is getting started. You will find that it gets much easier after talking to people and realizing how much help people are willing to offer. They all started somewhere, and so should you.