Networking is a Necessity

While social media allows us to forge new connections around the world, there’s still no substitute for old-fashioned, face-to-face networking. When we gather in a room with like-minded small business owners with the shared goal of forging new alliances, amazing synergies are possible. Networking groups like BNI require a big commitment of time and resources and don’t always serve the needs of a small business owner. (Let’s face it; the handyman in the group is the one that gets most of the referrals.) Focused meet-up groups are often a more strategic way to grow your network and make strong connections.

Here are our recommendations for how to grow your small business with networking meet-up groups.

Be in the right company: If you’re just starting out, network with business people just above your current level. Otherwise, you’ll either end of commiserating with others in the same place you are right now.

Control the conversation: Websites like make it easy to create your own networking group. Rather than inviting people to simply network, create a theme for the evening or offer a central question that will become the basis for meaningful conversations and not just trading business cards.

Make networking a revenue stream: People who are willing to pay to play are usually more serious about making great connections. Use Eventbrite for their great SEO or Peatix which has the lowest service fee of any service to advertise and collect admission fees for your networking event. You’ll attract people who are willing to invest in networking, cover your costs and earn revenue.

Get creative: Have you ever gone speed dating? Then maybe try speed networking so that everyone has an opportunity to connect and the schmoozers won’t be dominating the conversations and overshadowing the natural introverts.

Create the right atmosphere: Have you ever gone to a networking meeting at an Applebee’s at 7am? It’s depressing. Instead consider renting beautiful, state-of-the-art meeting space at Jay Suites. Your guests will be greeted by a receptionist, catering is available and a professional atmosphere will set the tone for the high-level connections you want to make.

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