Business networking – groups
Business networking tips – Part 1 which groups?
As a busy networker and marketeer, I attend many events and meet lots of people. One common question from those new to networking is “What’s the difference between the different groups?” Whilst I’m not an expert on each group, summarised below are some of the features of the different groups I am aware of. Only you can decide the benefits of each one for YOU.
Location: Can you get to where the meetings are held, on a regular basis, from where you live / work? Can you park or walk from the station? Are they in the same place each time or do they move around? What do you prefer?
Time of day: I’ve seen –
- breakfast / late breakfast (7:00 to 8:00am start)
- brunch (9:30 or 10:00am start)
- lunch (anywhere from 12:00 to 1:30pm start)
- afternoon (3:30 – 4:00pm start)
- early evening / evening / late evening (5:30 to 8:00pm start)
Frequency: weekly, bi-weekly, 4-weekly, monthly, less regular
Formality of meeting: how set is the agenda? what does it include and do you like it? the agenda may be set, yet the meeting isn’t formal. A few events I’ve been to have a guideline agenda and are very informal or casual.
Pitch or not? Are you expected to do a pitch at each meeting – 20secs to 60 secs is common – or not? Are you expected to do a 5 minute pitch every few months? If so, is there a suggested format?
Expectations: Their expectations from you: Are you encouraged / obliged / expected to:
- bring guests and how often?
- provide referrals and how?
- attend every meeting?
- attend training at specific times?
- attend other meetings / events in the same group?
Cost structure: What are the TOTAL costs and how long do you have to commit for? Is it fixed price including the meetings, or plus each meeting? What is cost of visiting other meetings / events in the same group? What other services do they provide for free / at a discount? Are you expected to offer favourable prices to members? How often can you go as a guest, at what price, before you have to commit?
Who goes?: Can you find out beforehand what sort of people / businesses go? Is there a “non-competitive” restriction, so you can’t have two of the same businesses there? Is there an industry focus which makes it an ideal group for you?
When you get there: How warm and welcoming are the people? Does it feel right for YOU? Although you will need to keep going for a while and make time to meet people, before you know how useful the group is to you, that first impression is important.
If you want to know more about some of the skills you need to think about, talk to us about Business networking training or have a look at the articles in the Blog.
If you’d like more information or guidance on finding the best group for you; or help developing the skills you need to be a successful networker, please contact Sue.