This internet thingy is brilliant, but you can’t ignore the business that good old fashioned face-to-face networking can drum up. Our friends over at Colprint are big fans of networking groups. You can read their top tips for finding good networking groups on their blog.
When your business deals in services, or trades physical products which can be expensive to ship, a large bulk of your business will come from local customers. Networking groups, where you get to meet other local business people over a drink or two, are far from being killed off by the internet – in fact, they are booming. They are a fantastic way of meeting lots of like-minded business people, giving you the potential to find a new supplier, and to promote yourself and your services to people in a position to buy. There is a plethora of business networking groups to join, so how do you know that the ones provided by Business Buzz are the ones for you?
In any networking group, you need to look for what appeals to you. The nature of your business should be the primary driver of your decision-making. Find a networking group that:
- operates in your geographic area
- is attended by people from your target market
Being able to meet in person with decision makers from local companies who would be interested in your services is a real boon. Not that you should go into the networking meetings making a beeline for a particular someone and use a sledgehammer sales technique – networking events are not the time or place for hard sell. But having the opportunity to chat to them, get to know them, and make them aware of your services is useful. It’s certainly more useful than choosing a networking group where no-one is attending who is in your target market.
Another aspect to consider is the time and place of the networking meet-ups. Choose one where you can at least spare the time to attend, and is at a time when others can do so too. Joining a group where the meetings fall during your busiest trading period does not make sense if it means having to shut shop. Many networking groups run breakfast clubs, lunchtime groups, and evening socials, while some find that operating during office hours gives the biggest attendance levels. It’s sometimes a trade-off between personal convenience and maximum exposure for yourself. Shutting shop can be far from a crazy plan if the networking meeting helps find customers with even more money to spend.
Cost is a key factor. If you know you can definitely make it to every meeting, then a regular subscription with added benefits such as discounts in local shops can work out very economical, while some people prefer a pay-as-you-go approach. If you’re not sure if you will like the meetings, or know you can’t make every one, then pay-as-you-go could be a good option. Business Buzz’s events are pay-as-you-go, which is fabulous for those who would like see how fruitful networking events can be before committing.
Once you’ve attended a meeting or two, you can get a feel for if the group is the right for you. All this is down to personality and how relaxed you feel. Some people prefer formal meetings with speakers and presentations, and group exercises, while others like the more informal approach with mingling and drinks. If you’re in a situation you feel comfortable in, then you can relax and let the networking happen for you. No networking group is right for everyone, so it’s a case of looking at what Business Buzz can offer, considering if their meetings are convenient for you, and coming along to see what it’s all about. What have you got to lose?