Business Networking Tips from guest blogger (c) David Coblitz
In the previous two articles in this monthly series, I discussed why to network & with whom to network. Now I’d like to help you know how to go about finding people with whom to network. This turns out to be very easy. Many organizations are devoted to helping business people network with each other. It’s a good idea to network with more than one, but how many depends on how much time you want to devote to networking. Give each several months to develop relationships with the members, since networking is all about building visibility, credibility, & trust and these take time. Don’t be in a rush for results. Give it at least 6 months before judging effectiveness.
BNI (Business Networking International) – This is the largest, most successful business-networking group. With chapters all over the world they are likely to have many chapters in your local area. A chapter typically will have 15-50 members. Only one member in each profession is allowed in a given chapter. Once a member, you can visit any other chapter as well. They will be anxious to do business with another BNI member who “gets it”. By that I mean BNI provides excellent training in the business networking process, so you can feel comfortable when meeting a BNI member that the chances are good that they understand the “Givers Gain” philosophy & will be anxious to learn how they can help you.
Yellow Tie – A similar organization to BNI.
Local Chambers of Commerce – These are different in nature to BNI or Yellow Tie. They do not restrict to one member in any given profession, and don’t provide the same formalized training, but they do provide an opportunity to meet many other businesses in your local area.
Meetup groups – These are very low cost. You simply go to meetup.com & search your local area for groups with a common interest with you or who represent types of people you want to network with. If there is not presently a group meeting your desires in your local area, it’s easy to start your own. Meetup.com has the purpose of providing a place on the web where you can go to find other people with a common interest and meet locally. Each meetup group will provide opportunities for the members to get together on a regular basis out in the real world.
Local professional organizations – Your local chapter of the Professional Photographers Association (PPA) or Association of Media Professionals (ASMP) are good resources to meet other photographers & share ideas about photographic technique and business practices. Getting involved with local arts and camera club organizations will also lead you to fellow photographers.
Linkedin.com – Linkedin.com is a web site where you can post a profile giving your profession and experience and meet others in any profession you want to find. Look for groups where members of your customer or referral partner tribe would hang out. For me, that’s interior designers (ASID, IIDA). For you it will be other groups who contain your ideal customer types. Join some of these groups & introduce yourself & what you do. You can participate in their discussions to share things you know that will be helpful to them & develop a reputation as an expert in your field.
To learn more about the author, visit CoblitzPhotographicArts.com