How to Choose the Right Business Networking Group to Join
Business networking is often seen as a daunting yet rewarding task. Today referral business is more important than ever to have as part of your marketing strategy. In fact, a Nielsen study reported that 92% of consumers trust their families and friends’ referrals over traditional advertising! Combine that fact with a BrightLocal study that found 88% of consumers trust online reviews as much as they trust recommendations from their personal contacts - and you quickly realize why and how networking continues to be a strong lead generation strategy.
So how do you network to grow your business? One way is to consider joining a local business networking group. With so many networking groups available, how can you make the right choice for yourself and your business?
Here are four tips that can help you determine if a business networking group is right for you.
1. Determine your business and/or professional goals.
When business owners and professionals network with peers, they generally hope to gain one of the following:
Feedback and advice on business ideas from other professionals in the same market and/or specialization
Develop and improve their professional presentations and public speaking skills
Connect with people who share a similar client base
Obtain direct leads to help their business grow
2. Identify individuals you wish to meet
Once you have determined your professional or business goals, you will want to identify specific individuals you would like to meet and who you believe would be good referral partners.
First, start with identifying complementary industries in your business.
Next, identify those positions that would likely interact with your ideal customers.
Make a list and prioritize it.
For example, if you are a general contractor specializing in custom homes builds, your top referral partners might include building and landscape architects. If you are a fiduciary financial advisor, then one of your top referral partners might be a CPA.
3. Block time off in your calendar
Once you have identified those individuals you wish to meet, you should block off time in your calendar to research and visit a few local business networking groups. Keep in mind, networking groups can run anytime between early sunrise to evening. Your schedule and willingness to commit to a specific day and time might impact your availability and level of engagement. A quick Google search for business networking groups near me or business referral groups near me should provide you with a good starting list.
4. Choose your business networking group
Now that you’ve started researching your local business networking groups, you’ll want to make a final choice and decide if you are going to carve out the time to fully commit. Remember, you’ll want to consider your goals, individuals in the group and if they also interact with your target customer, the time of day the group meets, and your schedule. It is usually okay to visit a group at least twice before making a final decision. Visiting a group at least twice allows you to get to know the existing members and gauge the group’s energy, as well as your growth potential.
Joining a local business networking group is a great way to grow your business through warm referrals. East Bay Business Exchange is a local group of like-minded professionals who wish to grow their businesses through referrals. We meet each Wednesday at 8:30 am via Zoom. Attend our next meeting to learn more.