HOW TO CHOOSE THE RIGHT NETWORKING GROUPS

In looking for the right networking group, do these sound familiar to you?

  • Unsure of where to start the search
  • Spending lots of time researching but still none the wiser?
  • Lacking the clarity of what type of group best suits you?

Networking is a large piece of the puzzle when it comes to growing your business and personal brand. Your time is precious, so it’s essential to get involved in groups and organisations that are the right fit for you and your business. There’s nothing worse than wasting valuable time and money joining a group (or groups) that aren’t going to help you achieve your professional goals.

It can also be overwhelming when you look at all the different networking groups out there, and it’s not always clear which will be the best investment of your time and money.

The first step is to understand how you work/network best, and based on these results; you can narrow down the options.

How do you work best?

  • Small or large groups – Do you work better in a small or large group? As an introvert, you’ll most likely prefer one-on-one conversations to a large group, which can drain you of energy. The extroverts are more likely to get energised when surrounded by groups of people and activities. Either way, it’s important to remember that introversion, just as extraversion, is simply a preference and a tool. Consider where you feel most comfortable and at your best.
  • Best time of day – Networking groups happen at various times, from early breakfast to late evenings. Consider when best suits you and how often you can commit. Are you an early riser or work better later in the day? What are the external commitments needing consideration? Narrowing down days and times will help focus your search.
  • Online/In-Person – Again, this all comes down to how you work best and your preference for interacting or where you are based. Having a hybrid mix works well. Networking online can also help broaden your reach if you’re looking to expand from local to national or international.

What do you want to achieve?

This question should probably be the first consideration, and it’s one you need to answer before starting your search. Without knowing your business goals and objectives, it can be challenging to know what group to search for and to align your networking strategy.

Perhaps it’s to develop:

  • Community of like-minded people/Peer support / Accountability
  • Local / National / International growth
  • New clients / Business referrals
  • To learn / Gain advice and ideas
  • Improve skills and build confidence

Who do you want to network with?

Consider the type of people you want to meet and whether the networking groups have those types of people. Are you looking to:

  • Connect directly with clients or with people who share similar clients to you (i.e., strategic partners)?
  • Attend networking groups targeted at a specific industry / or interest?
  • Join a mixed or single-gender group?
  • Meet with like-minded people?

Joining a networking group will allow you to meet people you might not otherwise meet in your day to day activities or who are in your current network. But remember, it may take being a part of more than one network to meet the people you want to meet.

What type of networking group suits your needs?

There are many different types and styles of networking groups. However, your answers to the above questions will help you refine the search. I’d recommend engaging in between 1 to 3 groups but be sure you can commit the time to this investment.

Research

When researching groups, be sure to reach out to your current network who may already be networking in these groups and can add intel to your decision making. Once you’re clear on what you want and the groups which will help you achieve your goals, move on to the next step.

Try before you buy

Pick a few different types of networking groups before you invest and try them out. There are three types that everyone should consider:

  • Peer group for brainstorming, advice and sharing experiences
  • A professional business group for career/business development, and
  • A group that holds your ideal target market or who works with your market.

Something to bear in mind, they may not reap the rewards immediately, but you should be able to get a good feel/idea as to whether they’re a good fit and whether you’ll be able to build meaningful relationships. Regardless of the groups you choose, they should become a part of your Networking Strategy.

And on that last note, if you’re a small to medium-sized enterprise working in the B2B space anywhere in the world, you have a personal invite to join us at The Networking Hub events.

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