As you know, this month, we’re talking all about the power of networking. Last week, I shared the why of networking. So now, let’s talk about the where.
Set an Objective
Before you can know where to network, you must identify what it is you’re trying to accomplish. Are you trying to find new customers or clients? Or are you hoping to connect with other, potentially synergistic businesses for collaboration and cross-promotion? Or are you wanting to learn and grow professionally or even personally, building or strengthening a skillset?
Once you figure this part out, finding those audiences is much easier.
Find Those People
Here are some ideas of networks you can join:
- Business Associations: Yes, of course, your local Chamber of Commerce or Board of Trade is what they call a “no brainer”. It’s such a great networking opportunity. Chances are your local Chamber has a monthly networking event. These are highly productive networking opportunities. You could also join your local tourism association, if appropriate, or a BNI Chapter.
- Industry Associations: Almost every industry has an industry-specific association, whether formal or informal. Find and join at least one!
- Clubs: Most communities have special interest groups and clubs. I find the website “Meetup” a good place to find out about these, but there are other ways to discover these gems as well. If you sell pottery, for example, ask at your supply store if there is a club for potters.
- Virtual “communities” (a pandemic growth industry that has really gotten legs. If you’re interested in this, talk to me! I have a lead on a great one)
- Special interest groups on Facebook, LinkedIn, Alignable, or Clubhouse. Social networks are amazing networking tools, if done well. I have made some amazing friends, gotten business, and formed business alliances using social networks.
An Early Tip
As I said, I’m going to share about the how of good networking over the next few weeks, but for now, let me just give you one VERY important early tip: Do not join to sell. Join to network.
If you are networking in person, it is unlikely that you would walk into a networking function, zero in on someone and launch into a sales pitch. So why do we do this online? It’s so off-putting! This is farming, not hunting. So – engage. Ask questions. Be an encouragement. Be genuine. And enjoy the journey!
And, of course, as always, Stay on Point!