Not sure where you should be marketing your business?
As the author of an information product on networking aptly titled “Pumped Up Networking”, I’m often asked a question that goes something like this… How do I decide where to network and which networking groups should I join?
I hate to do this to you however I can only answer that question with another question. What do you want to accomplish by networking?
Don’t worry… I won’t totally leave you hanging here. In lieu of waiting for a response from you, first let me start you off with some of the basics to consider.
- Your budget… Networking events and memberships can get expensive so determine how much of your marketing budget you can afford to invest on it.
- Your time… Networking can become very time consuming as it takes time to establish and nurture fruitful relationships so determine how much of your time each month you can afford to invest here.
- Your comfort zone… Networking can be intimidating and quite frankly a waste of money and time if you are not ready to network in certain situations or circles. Yes, the coach in me will always try to get you to stretch your comfort zone a bit however, going from zero to sixty in six seconds flat is typically not the wisest choice to stretch you and position you for success. Patience is a virtue here.
- Your gut… Learn to trust it. Does a particular networking event or group feel good to you? Do you like the other attendees or members? Is there good chemistry amongst the group? This is critical because if you’re not excited about where you’re networking or who you will be networking with, your heart won’t be in it. And if your hearts not in it, fruitful relationships won’t happen.
- The logistics… Times, dates, and locations are critical; wherever you choose to network must make sense from a logistical standpoint.
With the basics now factored in, let me present you with a few of the more common reasons for networking and where you can look to network to meet that need… hopefully one of these fits your scenario.
- If it’s to acquire new prospect to sell to… if possible, your best bet is to network directly where your target market hangs out, wherever that may be. Some possibilities may include events for charity or awards dinners if you’re marketing to the affluent; or Chambers of Commerce if you’re marketing to small businesses. If getting in front of your target market presents a challenge for you, you can approach it indirectly by networking with others who can ultimately connect you with your target market. For example, participate in lead exchange groups such as BNI, LeTip, or smaller but effective local groups such as in my neck of the woods, the LI Rainmakers.
- If it’s to establish your presence locally in your community or as I call it, become a ‘rock star’ in your own backyard, then maybe try your local Chamber of Commerce, Civic Association, or maybe even your local Church.
- If it’s to connect with your peers in your industry… maybe attend industry specific seminars and trade shows; or join a trade organization related to your specialty or industry (e.g. if you’re a professional speaker maybe try the National Speakers Association or if you’re a Chiropractor consider joining The American Chiropractic Association (ACA)).
So in closing, I have to say that I’m a firm believer that a person’s success can be determined by their ability to network effectively. And yes Jim Rohn is right… You are the average of the five people you spend the most time with… so choose your networking wisely.