I’m aware that it’s not just the networking die-hards who may be reading my blog, and I wanted to post something that I think is very important for networking newbies. (Don’t worry, it’s a good refresher for you die-hards as well.) When you’re just starting out in the networking world, finding a networking group can sometimes be intimidating and confusing, but it really doesn’t have to be. For those of you looking to join a networking group, here are some networking group basics.
There are at least seven types of business networking organizations to consider joining to develop your business through networking. Depending on your time constraints, you should select at least two or three groups to participate in. There are:
- Casual contact networks. These allow many people from overlapping professions and meet monthly.
- Strong contact networks. Their primary purpose is exchanging referrals. They meet weekly.
- Community service clubs. They provide an opportunity to give back to the community you do business in while making contacts and getting PR.
- Professional associations. They tend to focus on one specific industry. The primary purpose is to exchange information and ideas)
- Social/business organizations. They combine social activities with business or networking.
- Online networks. Includes groups such as Ecademy, LinkedIn and Ryze, which are social networks for businesses.
- Women’s business organizations. They are non-threatening groups for women to increase business. Many also allow men.
Don’t let chance decide where you’re going to spend your time and effort. Diversify your activities and consciously select a well-rounded mix of organizations. If you have associates, partners or employees, consider their participation when deciding which groups each of you will target.