[hidepost=2]It’s time for your second lesson in the Networking Know How short course. I hope you found lesson one informative.
In this lesson we are going to talk about joining business groups for the purpose of networking.
Joining groups of other like minded people will provide excellent marketing and networking opportunities for your business that cannot be ignored.
Finding the right group and getting used to the experience is the key to maximizing your membership with any business group. Keep in mind that there are many different groups that you can join. What you need to do is make sure you join the right business group for you and your business needs, and then take steps to become an active member of the group.
As I mentioned above there are usually several business groups in your area that you can choose from and while joining more than one group is fine, you don’t want to spend all your time going to different business group meetings so it is important that you choose carefully.
When you are looking for a group to join one rule is almost always universal:
The bigger they are the better they are. Big business groups will pull more active members out to networking events. Generally the more people that are in the room, the better the odds are that you are going to connect with the right kind of person who could be a future sweet spot client.
Regardless of the exact business group you join you have to actually attend the meetings. You won’t make contacts through osmosis. When I hear someone say that they tried a business group and it didn’t work for them 9 times out of 10 they went to one meeting; for whatever reason they didn’t like the meeting and never went back.
Business group marketing is no different than any other type. If you are going to do a cold call campaign and the first person is rude and hangs up on you, do you retreat to the woods never to be heard from again? No.
Here are some tips to help you find the right group and make the most of your membership.
Don’t go into a meeting with a negative, intimidated or apprehensive attitude. This will show through to the business group members.
Check out all the business groups within a one-hour radius. Don’t settle on the first one you come across.
Go to at least two business group meetings before you decide it is right for you.
Be patient. Don’t go in expecting to meet your magic client within an hour.
Force yourself to move out of your comfort zone and mingle and schmooze with the best of them. Seek out other people who look awkward and start by talking to them.
Find the accountants, engineers, controllers, operations managers; all the analytical types who may not be tremendously social or who aren’t born talkers. All of these people make fantastic contacts for future referrals and business because a lot of them are the IT decision makers in small companies.
Business groups like your local Chamber of Commerce are always a good choice because they provide many excellent marketing opportunities. The members of these types of business groups are all business owners and many of them will make very beneficial contacts.
To maximize exposure for your business within these group meeting there are some basic rules you should follow, including;
Don’t simply join a business group and remain a passive bystander. To get the most out of your business group experience you need to get involved. Here are some tips:
When you join a business groups immediately make yourself known to the Executive Director, the office staff and the officers, as well as the people on the board.
Volunteer for a committee. This is an excellent way to meet and really get to know some of the local small business owners.
Speak at the meetings and events.
Exhibit and take out a little table at the next expo or event held by the business group. These are usually inexpensive and are a low risk proposition.
Send an introduction letter to the business group members on the master list briefly describing your company and your services to them. Offer them special privileges or discounts.
Invite the whole business group membership to seminars or events you are holding.
Attend and network at the business group meetings regularly; 8 or 10 a year is a good number.
Always keep in mind that active members of a business group, the board, and the committee chairs tend to be loyal to the inner circle of their fellow business group supporters. It’s almost like a fraternity or sorority.
The most important thing to remember when using business groups to network and build your business is that what you put in to group experience is what you will get out of it.
And the key to getting the most out of a networking group is to:
– Find the right business group to join – Be an active member – Make the most of every meeting – Keep your name in front of the members. – Remember to do your follow up. – Don’t give up at the first sign of disillusionment.
You want the group members to know your name and think of you first whenever they need something. If you are patient and persistent your group membership and networking efforts will reap many rewards.
In our nest lesson we’ll talk about the proper rules of engagement at networking events. Look for Networking Know How Part 3 one week from today.