Updated: Oct 22
Not all are born with expansive networks or capital. Finding the 'right' business networking group can take your business to the next level. It begins by identifying business networking groups aimed to bring people together (via webinars, conferences, lunch and learns) with mutual business goals.
More the quality business relations, the easier it can be to find leads and customers. Right from Walmart to local bakeries, business networking helps drive businesses across industries.
‘ABC Approach’ to identify the right business network groups for you
Remember, not all are right for you. While every Google search will present you with plenty of business networking group options, you can skip the ‘kiss many frogs to find the prince' approach. Kick-start with the A-B-C approach to find the right ones – right at the start.
A - Align Goals
Does the group align with your goals? If your goal is to drive customers towards your business, then a group focused on client acquisition/ referrals will make a good match. However, if you’re looking to gain perspectives on learning, technology, or sustainability; then a group that hosts varied speakers who've 'been there, done that' will suit you better.
B - Bandwidth of Group
The larger the pool, the better chances of gaining leads and clients. Ensure that the group involves a large pool of members (who can become the prospective clients for your business). One example is BNI. It houses a globally diverse, massive member pool used by thousands to obtain referrals.
C - Cost of Joining
Before you join, make sure that the group transparently shares all its membership costing plans. And since time is money, it's also important to find out how often do they conduct meetings. Make sure that you can dedicate the required time.
Take a peek into the categories
Check out these business network groups that can be the catalysts for your business growth.
1. Community-based service groups
The primary focus of these groups is to support and advance business in the local community. For example, local Chamber Of Commerce hosts events with other local business owners. Rotary International or Lions Club International conducts community projects in local chapters to bring business owners together. FICCI FLO is another organization that works towards overall L&D, mentoring, and other support to women owned businesses.
2. Mentorship groups
Every business strives to learn, grow and advance in its processes. For example, a lending business might be on the lookout to improve & automate its lending data management by installing new software. Mentorship groups connect upcoming & seasoned business owners to aid in co-learning.
3. Large-sale business networking groups
Many organizations focus on not only developing local connections but also provide a wider, diverse scope. Due to the expanse, one can gain mighty referrals and increase chances of conversions. Business Networking International (BNI) is one such referral networking firm (over 10,000 global chapters).
4. Special interest groups or Industry-specific organizations
As the name explains it, these groups connect businesses based on their specific interests/ industry. For example, Retail Associations, Trading & Manufacturing Groups, Travel & Tourism Networks, Media Associations, Advertising Forums, Women's Business Groups, F&B Groups etc.
This platform hosts many groups categorized by topic – it's always worth exploring if any topics relevant to your industry are making the rounds.
Every connection. Make it count.
Below are a few tips to make your business networking efforts aimed towards conversion.
As soon as you begin making connections, they will be checking out your LinkedIn profile - hawk-eyed! Make sure it's up to date and creates a powerful impression of you/ your company.
Make the first move. Be open to introduce yourself to the group & actively exchange relevant information.
Be open to reaching out to your connections 'outside' networking hours of the group. Drop them an email or a follow-up text message to schedule a time to talk and pitch.
You will meet people from all walks of life. What’s more, be yourself. Staying true to your business values and culture, while helping others solve their business problems is the proven way to upscale your business.