Are You Joining the Right Business Networking Organization?
We all know that networking is an essential part of the modern business relationship. It’s a process that started with a handshake and a verbal promise, eventually evolving into a mutually beneficial structure where everyone’s diverse talents can inspire growth.
Although all networking formats offer benefits, the five places where people gather to build these relationships matters more than some professionals realize.
You need to know more than the right people or have a silky-smooth elevator pitch. Where you choose to gather also matters.
Types of Business Networking Organizations to Join
When you sign up to join a networking event, you’ll want to review the expected structure to ensure that your outcomes meet your goals.
1. Casual Contact Networks
The best example of this network is the after-hours events held by local Chambers of Commerce across North America. These events offer professionals the chance to make a valuable contact while enjoying a relaxed environment.
Since a casual connection isn’t tailored to generate a referral, it takes more work to create results. You might need to become an ambassador, sit on a committee, or attend multiple events throughout the year to strength the relationships formed.
2. Strong Contact Networks
This contact network’s purpose is to have members exchange business referrals. Some groups meet weekly to accomplish this task, while others prefer a monthly event that involves dinner and cocktails.
These networks often start with business memberships. One person from the company gets to attend based on their specialty or profession from each organization.
Everyone will be carrying contact information with them at these events. What does this mean for you?
The goal is to give people more resources to sell clients. If a customer doesn’t want to convert because the sales rep doesn’t offer what you have, they can bring you into the conversation to avoid losing a sale.
That’s why networking organizations like this one are invaluable. You can establish a powerful long-term connection that expands your horizons.
3. Community Service Networks
Service groups focus on helping their community in some way. The focus is rarely on business or referrals.
It can be lots of fun to join this business networking organization because it lets you give back with your time and effort. When you’re working with others who follow the same approach, you can build relationships that transcend the professional landscape.
Even if the only thing you produce is social capital, you can get rewarded in other ways because of your volunteerism or activism.
4. Professional Associations and Networks
This networking option often connects you to other professionals in the same industry. The primary purpose of these relationships is to exchange ideas, share information, and create diverse conversations.
The goal of tapping into this network is to join a group where your target markets or audience is already active.
Since most associations limit their membership to specific professionals with industry credentials, you’ll need to prove your expertise during the application process. Vendors aren’t usually welcome.
If you don’t qualify for membership, some associations are moving to an “associate member” status where you can still join the group without being active in the desired areas.
5. Online Networks
Social media provides unique networking opportunities that weren’t available to previous generations. You can stay connected to people around-the-clock with this option.
That also means your credibility will always get questioned. You must have a realistic and practical strategy to implement when communicating online. A good rule to follow is that you’re doing more development than customer hunting here, so focus on creating relationships.