By Diane Helbig
We all know that networking is a key to business growth. And we know that there are a lot of opportunities to network. There are the places our friends go, the places in our communities, online, offline, and industry-related organizations.
Sometimes the sheer number of options can feel overwhelming. So how do we decide where to invest our time and money? Try this 3 step plan:
1. Determine what you hope to achieve. What do you want to get out of your membership or involvement in an organization? This is a huge question. Sometimes we confuse our goals, and that can cause us to join the wrong group or organization. For example, The Rotary is a philanthropic organization first and foremost. Yet, some people join it thinking they will be able to sell to the other members. Not, in my opinion, a good reason to join the Rotary.
So, be clear on why you are joining that particular organization. And if I may add, your reason should align with the main purpose of said organization.
2. Explore what is out there. First do your research. Discover what exists that matches with your goals. Take a deep look at them.
a. What do they value?
b. Who else is a member?
c. What kinds of events do they have?
d. What do they expect of their members?
e. What is the investment, both in time and dollars, to be a member or participate?
You may find that some are worth exploring for membership while others are good to just visit periodically as a guest. And don’t be swayed by your friends. Just because something works for them doesn’t mean it is the right solution for you!
3. Once you’ve narrowed your list, go visit. When you are there be open to really experiencing what it’s like. What are the people like? The programming? The structure? You are really trying them on for size to see if they are a good fi t for you and your business. Visit twice if you can. First impressions can sometimes be deceiving.
Now that you’ve found where you think you should be, join. And get involved. Give it all you’ve got proportional to what they expect. You can’t just join and expect good things to happen. You have to be participating; you have to build relationships. I hear it all the time, “I joined the Chamber but didn’t get any business out of it.” Did you go to the events? Did you get on a committee? Did you follow up with the people you met at the luncheon?
Right! Networking is an investment of time and energy. You have to work it. When you are looking for different venues to network, think about exploring the different types of organizations. There are chambers, industry associations, constituent specific groups (like women’s groups), and structured networking like BNI. There are also group coaching like Business Opportunity Network, mastermind like Vistage, and affiliate groups.
There is a lot to explore out there. Use the 3 step process above and get started. The sooner you are connecting with others on a deeper level, the sooner you will be growing your business.
Copyright© 2016 Seize this Day
Diane Helbig is an internationally recognized business and leadership development coach, author, speaker, and radio show host. As a certified, professional coach, president of Seize This Day, Diane helps businesses and organizations operate more constructively and profitably.