As a business professional, you may not have much spare time and it, therefore, makes sense to look for networking groups that will give you the best return on investment for your time and money.
There are five main types of networking groups and which one will be most suited for you depends on the type of business that you run and also the objectives that you wish to accomplish by being a part of a network.
Casual Contact Networks
People from overlapping professions usually become a part of this general type of business group. These groups also hold mixers where participants meet informally on a monthly basis. Guest speakers are invited to such events and they present on important business topics.
Issues relating to community affairs, legislation or local business programs. There are thousands of chambers of commerce which are active across the United Kingdom and other parts of the world.
Participants are given an opportunity to establish contact with other business professionals in the community. Making these initial contacts can prove to be extremely valuable and may aid you in the development of your referral business.
But these casual contact organizations are not directed toward helping you get referrals. To achieve this you may have to put in additional efforts from your end. If you wish to gain greater exposure you can even consider taking up the position of a chamber ambassador.
It may require you to invest a little time on a regular basis but it can get you in touch with more business professionals than you would be just another member. It will make it necessary for you to attend the event regularly and in this way, you can take advantage of your regular presence to further strengthen the relationships you have already formed.
Strong Contact Networks
Strong contact referral groups help members to exchange business referrals and it is the primary purpose of such organizations. Group members usually meet on a weekly basis and socialize over meals. The membership of such groups is usually restricted to one business professional from each field or specialty.
The opportunities that are presented to you are highly focused as they can help you and your associates develop referral marketing campaigns. Such types of groups do not hand out invitations to hundreds of business professionals but each existing member will be carrying around with them your business cards.
Community Service Clubs
Service groups are quite different from other business-oriented groups as their primary purpose is not referral marketing but providing a service to the community.
By taking efforts and giving time to civic causes you can establish long term relationships that deepen and broaden your business as well as personal networks.
If your basic intention is not to benefit but to contribute, you will eventually accrue enough social capital and this will reward you in many other ways out of which business will also be an aspect.
Affiliating with professional associations will get you in touch with only those belonging to your industry which may be personal, banking, accounting, health or architecture. Exchanging ideas and information is very much the primary purpose of a professional association.
These groups usually contain your target markets or potential clients and the primary goal of every member is to tap into these untouched business prospects.
Asking your best customers and clients which group they are a member of can be an easy way to target key groups. Certain groups do not welcome vendors and require their members to have specific industry credentials.
However, a growing number of associations have formed associate member categories with the aim of generating greater income or giving their members a diversified slate of vendors.
Social Media/Online Media Networks
From the perspective of a business, building your credibility and brand is usually the basic purpose of using social media. It gives you an opportunity to provide value for your followers and connections. Building credibility and relationship is quite critical to the process of networking and can be achieved by both online networking as well as face-to-face networking.
Besides networking, there are several other crucial aspects of handling a business that need to be addressed such as protecting your business with insurance or safeguarding it by writing a Will using a free Will creator.