Networking is a social activity, so it's no surprise that people do this in groups. Here are 5 main types of business networking groups you might want to consider joining:
1. Casual Contact Networks
These networks are the open group or Chamber of Commerce type in networking. You get to meet people across different professions (informal meetings), and discuss local business, legislation, community relations, and issues. These are not made primarily to help you get referrals. You have to exert effort to get them (examples: volunteer, be committed, attend events regularly).
2. Strong Contact Networks
These networks are focused on sharing referrals with a small to medium-sized group of professionals (smaller than casual contact groups). People meet more often than casual contact networks which is a good way to get to know other people or members better. There is lesser competition within the group, since most limit to one member per profession or one representative per business.
3. Community Service Clubs
As the name implies, these groups are focused on giving service to the community or for the benefit of others (example: volunteering). Giving or getting referrals is not the primary goal. However, you build long-term relationships that expand your personal and business networks.
4. Professional Associations
People with common interests and passions gather in this type of network. Usually, members belong to one specific industry (examples: banking, health, education, etc.). These networks are focused on exchanging or sharing information, knowledge, and/or ideas. (Pro tip: Join groups that contain your potential clients or target markets).
5. Online Networking
Blog sites and social media platforms are used to form relationships (example: LinkedIn). This kind of networking provides you digital connections for future reference and helps recruiters weigh you personally and professionally based on your posts or social media presence. Online networking is only useful as you make it, but make sure it leads to a face-to-face meeting.
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