This blog is based on an excerpt from our webinar, Cultivating your Network for Maximum Profit, hosted by renowned sales coach Mitch Harris.
One of the easiest and fastest ways to expand your network in a targeted way is to join networking groups. Networking groups are available all over the place, and there are a few creative ways you can go about finding and joining these groups. In this blog we’ll look at a few of the ways you can access and join groups of people that are like-minded and can really help your business.
Online Networking Groups
The fastest and easiest way to find networking groups is through online and social channels. LinkedIn in particular is suited for creating and joining networking groups for your industry or offer. There are lots of groups for people who are doing the same thing you’re doing that provide tips, advice, and education.
I highly suggest using the LinkedIn search feature to find networking groups you can join within your industry. Often these groups will even send out newsletters to keep you updated on the things going on, and some really great conversations can happen there.
Facebook communities are also a great way to connect with other business professionals, although there isn’t quite as much selection or engagement as there is on LinkedIn.
Business Networking International (BNI)
There is a huge networking group that spans the globe with chapters established nearly everywhere you would want to do business called BNI, which stands for Business Networking International. Admittedly, sometimes this organization gets a little bit of a bad wrap just because they are so large and there are so many chapters, but I encourage you not to write them off. You can find tremendous contacts there, and can be a great resource to check out.
BNI often hosts networking events and meetings, so take a chance and go to a meeting as a guest to explore it and meet people regardless of whether you are going to participate or not. It is a great group with a lot of really great professionals that you can look into.
Speed Networking Groups
Taking a page out of the speed dating book, speed networking works the same way. I have heard a lot of great things about these events from my colleagues. One of the most difficult things about traditional networking events is that you only have so much time to discuss and connect with people, and there are often a lot of people that you miss. With speed networking, you have a set time limit and get to talk to a larger number of people, which can be great when you’re prospecting for new business.
Take a quick search on Google for any speed networking groups in the area. You just might find a match!
Local Chambers of Commerce
In most states or jurisdictions, the Chamber of Commerce will have some sort of structure and organization to help people connect with like-minded business professionals. These groups have gatherings and meetings, and can be a great place to meet new prospects and share more about what you do. Many of these people may also need help in one way or another, so it’s a great chance to discuss business or even just create some good will with new connections. Take a look at your state chamber of commerce site to find out how you can be added to their directory, and find out what events are taking place in the near future,
Alumni Associations are excellent places to find people that already feel a sense of connection with you because of your shared experience at a school. Alumni events and newsletters are a great way to stay connected with like-minded people from your alma matter that may spark some mutually beneficial relationships.
A note I’d like to make on this topic is that the alumni association you engage with doesn't have to be your own. You can come as a guest to another alumni association, and try to make connections that way. Depending on the area this will vary, but some cities have an Ivy league club, and you don't have to have gone to an Ivy league school yourself to attend. It’s definitely worth a shot.
Connecting with networking groups is a great way to break up the monotony of your own outreach, cold calling, and other prospecting methods. These groups are loaded with high-quality contacts that could be beneficial to you in a number of ways.