The Power of a Local Networking Group

Reach out and connect with people for the sales process to work. You can spend small fortunes on direct mail, television ads and print ads, but the best way to build your business is by expanding the network in which you operate.

Join an Existing Networking Group

Search online and check out local newspaper websites for a community calendar of a networking group in your area. Calendar listings, a networking group’s website and their Facebook page will tell you about upcoming meetings.

Become an active member to create the valuable connections you need to run a successful business. Membership dues to the networking group may cost $50 to $200, and these dues usually help pay for the meeting space or food at the event. Paying $200 a quarter is inexpensive when you look at the potential sales that can come from joining.

After 3 months, if you do not feel that your membership is fruitful, try and stick with it for at least another 3 months. I belonged to my first networking group for one year before I really started receiving referrals. Referrals will come once trust regarding you and your business is gained. And, trust can take time to develop.

Usually, networking groups are made up of one representative from each type of profession in order to eliminate competition within the group. Check to see if your profession is available. Remember that the power of networking groups is that you have the audience of 10 - 20 professionals every week or month. These individuals become your sales people. Sooner or later, they are going to tell people about you and your business. Referrals that are made by people we know and trust are the most successful. These leads are always the easiest for me to turn into sales.

Start Your Own Group

Consider starting your own if you’re a good leader and do not have a networking group in your area. Start your group by contacting a number of other business owners that you know and find out if they would be interested in starting a referral group. The goals of the group would be to generate qualified leads for others in the group. This education process would occur at each weekly or monthly meeting. A weekly breakfast meeting, beginning at 7:30am, would be one hour long and follow this format:

  • Each woman business owner introduces herself and her business.
  • New or prospective members are introduced, and each woman will have 1 minute to talk about her business.
  • The elected president will call the meeting to order and discusses upcoming events.
  • Discuss and plan group activities to increase membership and gain exposure in the community.
  • Have one group member prepare a speech (15 - 20 min) about what their business’s services or products. Members can ask questions.
  • The president asks for referrals to be passed around. Use business cards or forms with contact information on them as referral slips.
  • Conclude your meeting with each woman saying what would be a good referral for them that week.

Getting a Group Motivated

After the first couple of weeks, many groups go through a blah period. This is normal. Try to spark things up by bringing in a speaker on sales or plan a social event on a weekend with spouses and/or children. Create goals for increasing referrals and new member to give the group something to work toward.

Every week email an agenda to the members with last week's minutes and encourage attendance. Have a pizza party and go door-to-door in surrounding business offices, inviting owners to a free lunch to get to know your group.

The group that I formed in my little town has been running for over a year now and has between 18 and 22 members at any given time. We usually exceed our quarterly goal of 80 referrals, and we have a great time at quarterly social events with our spouses.

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