Local Networking Groups
There are numerous associations or groups specializing in business development and networking. Their purpose is to give their members a formal opportunity to network with and learn from other professionals. When used properly, they can be an invaluable resource, especially if you feel unsure of yourself in this area.
Over 40 percent of Americans ask their friends and family for advice when shopping for services. This makes word of mouth one of the most effective sources for business referrals. Are your clients talking about you? If so, what are they saying?
Networking groups are a great place to learn and hone your networking skills. You will receive newsletters, books, workshops, and other forms of training. The information you learn and the contacts you make can really help you grow your business. They are especially helpful if you are new in town or do not have a large warm market.
Organizations with Proven Track Records
For a fee of $200–$400, you can join a local networking group. These groups typically meet once a week and are an opportunity to meet people who can help you get referrals. One very popular group is the Business Network International (BNI). BNI was founded by networking guru Ivan Misner, and has been around for over twenty years. Their approach has been proven to be successful, and they currently have over 80 thousand members. For more information, log on to
The average person knows approximately 250 people. Every time you meet someone and build a relationship, you increase your list of potential clients by 250. Even if this person does not need or desire your services, there is a good chance one of the 250 people she knows will need you.
You can also join your local chapter of the Chamber of Commerce. The Chamber offers numerous opportunities for its members to meet and network with other professionals. In addition, your business will be listed on an online search engine where people interested in your services can look for businesses in their area. They also offer free seminars and extensive online information.
There may be other local groups in your area who charge a lesser fee, but they will likely be smaller and may not offer the extensive perks that the Chamber and BNI provide. Check the newspaper or yellow pages for local listings. If your time allows, you might consider joining a smaller group in addition to one of the more established groups. Just be careful not to overextend yourself.