There’s no doubt that the ideal way to network would be that every event you attended would be filled with people who were interested in your goods/services and had the money to pay for them.
The reality of it is that unless you develop some screening techniques for advertising, you are going to end up discouraged and won’t have much to show for your time and effort.
I’ve included some of my experiences and what I learned from them (and you can too).
Joining a Chamber of Commerce
There are chambers of commerce at the local, state and national level. As far as I know, all of them cost money to join. For the average small business owner, it simply it’s an option to spend that kind of money. Which one to join? Here some guidelines on what to consider:
Attend an event at a couple of different chambers in your area.
- Which one’s pressured you the most to join – Don’t join this one
- Which one’s gave you a clear agenda on how THEY can help YOU – Consider joining this one
- Ask the other member’s how the chamber has helped them grow their business – If you get great responses from other members, definitely join this one
Many chambers post their member directory online. Check that directory to see if there are companies you could do business with.
- How many companies are in the directory?
- How long have the companies been members?
P.S. The primary purpose of the Chamber of Commerce is to increase THEIR membership. That’s ok. Just keep that in mind before you give an organization your $$.
Joining an organization for your industry, interests or specialty.
There are thousands of organizations to join and pay for. Realtors, fly fIshing, orthopedists, CPA’s – the list is literally endless. As a small business owner, you only have so many hours in a day. Teach yourself to expect and achieve maximum value from everything you do.
- Join one organization that matches your license (if you have one) – lawyers, cosmetologists, etc.
- Join one organization that matches your industry – beer brewing, construction, etc.
- Join one organization you feel passionate about – global warming, volunteering, etc.
Choosing a limited amount of memberships encourages you to fully participate in each one. One of the number one hazards for a small business owner is spreading yourself too thin. You will end up getting nothing done to your satisfaction and you will be wasting time and money.
I wasted a LOT of time attending ‘networking’ events that had nothing to do with my industry or my interests. I met a lot of great people and bought some great specialty items, but my ROI (return on investment) was zero.
Do the right amount of research on the front end and think before you buy in EVERYTHING!
Todays favorite: http://www.jeetendr.com/