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  • Writer's picturePunit Gajera

Types of Business Networking Groups

Updated: Oct 10, 2020

Business professionals who don't have a lot of spare time often ask us which networking groups provide the biggest bang for their buck.

There are five main types, and what works best depends on the business they're in and the prospects they want to meet.

1. Casual contact networks

These are general business groups that allow many people from various professions. They generally meet monthly and sometimes hold mixers where everyone mingles informally. They may also hold meetings where they invite guest speakers to discuss on important business topics or organize talks on industry specific issues, community affairs, awareness or local business programs.

For examples thousands of chambers of commerce active across India and across the world. They offer participants an opportunity to make valuable contacts with several other business people in the community. By attending chamber events, you will build initial contacts that will be valuable in other aspects of developing your referral business.

But, as a result of casual contact networks aren't tailored primarily to help you get referrals, you have to exert effort to make them work. For example, you can volunteer to be a chamber committee member, a position that that requires little time commitment but provides much exposure. Sitting on committees helps you get to know members better. Most of all, you need to attend events frequently so you can take advantage of every opportunity to strengthen the relationships you form.

2. Strong contact networks

There are organizations whose purpose is principally to help members exchange business referrals are known as strong contact networks groups. They meet weekly, typically over lunch or breakfast in banquets or conference halls and their membership limited to one member per profession/business or specialty.

These networks provide highly focused opportunities for their fellow members and help to developing their referral marketing campaigns. These are paid membership group you don;t find hundreds of business people, they are limited to 60 to 70 members, but they all will be well dressed, ready to get more business and carrying their business cards around with them everywhere they go. The net result is like having up to 50 salespeople working for you! You'll be establishing powerful long-term relationships.

If you're considering a strong contact network, you'll want to keep a few things in mind:

  • You need to have a schedule that make you regular and you attend all the meetings. Regular attendance is very important to developing a rapport with the other members and getting to know their businesses.

  • You need to feel comfortable going to a net­working event and being on the lookout for prospects who bring business for other members. A good strong contact networking group typically tracks the amount of business, passing referrals that's conducted. If you're not "pulling your weight," you'll be asked to leave or referrals will stop coming your way.

3. Professional associations

Professional association members tend to be from one specific type of industry, such as IT, textile, diamond, accounting or health. The primary purpose of a professional association is to exchange information and ideas about their Industry.

Many associations limit their membership to the members from that specific industry only, others can't join that association. However, to generate more income or to serve their members well, a growing no.s of associations have created an associate member category, where vendors can join but can't active in the business or profession for whom the group was formed. Your goal to join such networks is that contain your potential clients or target markets.

In these type of networks, You stand out by finding ways to help without selling to members. As an example, if you are a social media consultant and joined an association of professional business coaches, rather than trying to "sell" them on your services, how about volunteering to run the association's social media platforms? Taking charge of their social media pages would be a great start toward building relationships and showing them your value.

4. Community service clubs

Community service clubs aren't set up primarily for referral networking like more business-oriented groups, service groups; their activities are focused on service to the community. However, these type of clubs members give time and effort to civic causes, as a member you build long lasting relationships that broaden and deepen your personal and business networks. If you go in not to benefit but to contribute, the social capital you accrue will eventually reward you in other ways and from other directions business among them.

5. Online/social media networks

From a business perspective, the ideal use for social media is to build your brand and your credibility with the people you're connected to by providing value for your connections and followers. Whether you are talking about physical or online networking "credibility and relationship building is still critical to the process".

With social media, the key to success is define a strategy that considers the dedicated time you can realistically spent to your online marketing efforts and being consistent. Make a weekly schedule that outlines times you'll spend developing your social media strategy. Figure out what's realistic and what makes sense for your business, and go from there.

Once your strategy's in place, you'll no doubt be anxious to start seeing a return on your social media investment.

It's vital to remember that networking is more about farming than it is about hunting, whether online or face to face. It's about cultivating relationships with people. It's about building the credibility of your brand and that doesn't happen overnight.

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