Today you can find a business networking group or event that’s happening every other day. It’s hard to decide which ones are worth your time and your money especially if you’re new in business or organized networking. You can’t go to all of them, you have a business to run. It can be difficult choosing a business meetup group that is right for you.
Look at the cost
You will find free business events but more often than not these are more social events than they are structured for networking. You have to find a way to network without annoying the other attendees. You can avoid being annoying by not trying to sell to everyone that you meet, and yes you’re likely to meet people like that at these events. You need to look at these events as a way to build long term relationships with other business people.
Organized networking events usually have a fee to join or sometime of annual membership with a per-event charge for each networking event. These types of networking groups are a lot more organized, there are refreshments, a nice location and the groups are generally very well run. I would see if you can attend first as a guest before committing to paying money.
Is there a structure to the group?
Some networking groups run a very tight ship. You are expected to attend regularly and generate referrals. Others are much more casual and they are just as much a social event as they are business networking. You want something a little more middle ground, enough structure so that some networking is done with enough flexibility to allow for some variation. Some events are hosted by a member where they offer “expert” advice on whatever their business specializes in. You should consider hosting an event yourself.
Consider the other members
Before you join a meetup group think about what you have to offer the other members in the group. Who will you be networking with? If you need to speak to large company directors you won’t likely find them at a local breakfast meeting. Go where you’re potential clients are going to be. for example a search engine optimization group would be good place to go to meet fellow seo experts!
There are groups better suited to those in the trades rather than someone in a consultancy position. Each meetup group is organized differently, with different hosting styles and contacts. Once you do join a group make sure that you inform the host of your business and the type of clients you are seeking. A good host will help put you in touch with the right members.
Take the time to find the right group for you, it will save you some time and money. You want to meet potential clients and make the group worth your while.