Professionals in the business world who are short on free time often ask us which networking organizations provide the best return on investment. There are five primary varieties, each with its own set of advantages and disadvantages depending on the industry and target audience.
Informal social networks
These are broad professional networks that welcome members from a wide range of related fields. Monthly get-togethers and casual “mixers” are the norm at these gatherings. Meetings may include talks by industry experts or discussions of legislation, community initiatives, or local business programs.
The hundreds of chambers of commerce that operate in North America and across the globe are prime examples of such organizations. Meeting other local businessmen at these events is a great way to expand one’s professional network. Attending chamber events is a great way to network and form early connections that can help you build your referral company.
You’ll need to put in some more effort into casual-contact groups if you want to receive recommendations from them. Being a chamber ambassador, for instance, is a voluntary role that doesn’t take up much of your time but gives you plenty of visibility. If you want to get to know other members better, join a committee. The single most important thing you can do to build the connections you make is to consistently show up to events.
Intensive social networks
Strong contact referral groups are associations whose members primarily aid each other by providing each other with business recommendations. Weekly breakfast and lunch gatherings are common for several of these clubs. Typically, just one person from each occupation or field is allowed to join.
You and your colleagues may start building successful referral marketing campaigns on the back of a solid contact network. A gathering like this won’t introduce you to hundreds of professionals, but everyone there will be carrying your business cards. The end outcome is the equivalent as employing up to 50 salesmen. The connections you make and maintain via such a scheme will be important down the line.
There are a few things to bear in mind if you’re thinking about joining a strong-contact group:
- All or almost all of the meetings need your presence, so plan accordingly. Attending meetings on a consistent basis is essential for making connections and learning about the members’ companies.
- If you want to help your team succeed, you must feel at ease attending networking events and actively seeking out potential new contacts. Generally, the success of a strong-contact networking group may be gauged by how much business is recorded. To put it bluntly, if you’re not “pulling your weight,” you’ll either be asked to leave or will cease receiving recommendations.
Social groups that do good in the neighborhood
A primary goal of service clubs is not referral networking like that of business groups, but rather community service. Volunteering, on the other hand, helps you build strong connections with other people, both in your personal life and in your professional life. The social capital you build by giving rather than taking will pay you in unexpected ways, including new business connections.
Groupings of Experts
Members of professional associations are often concentrated in a single field, such as finance, architecture, human resources, accountancy, or medicine. A group of professionals coming together to share knowledge and experience.
The point of participating in such networks is to connect with your target audience. If you want to narrow your focus on the right demographics, just ask your most loyal customers who they fall into.
Vendors are often excluded from some organisations since participation is restricted to people who already have certain certifications in the business. A rising number of organizations, however, have developed an associate member category, whose members aren’t involved in the company or profession for whom the group was founded, in order to produce extra cash or to provide their full members a well-rounded slate of possible suppliers.
To stand out among these groups, you need to provide value beyond just making a sale. If you’re a social media consultant and you join an organization of professional business coaches, instead of attempting to “sell” them on your services, why not offer to manage the organization’s social media accounts instead? Taking ownership of their social media accounts is a terrific way to get to know them and demonstrate your worth.
Websites and other online social media
If you’re using social media for commercial purposes, you should be using it to provide value to your connections and followers in order to grow your brand and trust among them. Credibility and connection development remain essential components of networking, whether in person or online.
The secret to being successful on social media is to plan ahead, taking into account how much time you have to devote to your online marketing activities, and to stick to that plan. Create a weekly plan detailing when you intend to work on your social media plan. Determine what is practical and appropriate for your business.
You’ll want to see results from your social media efforts immediately after you’ve implemented your approach. Remember that networking, whether online or in person, is more about farming than hunting. It’s all about making connections with other individuals. Credibility in your brand is essential, and it takes time to earn that trust.