Professional networking can be one of the best ways for your business to obtain leads, find vendors and develop a group of trusted advisors that can assist with questions and challenges that arise as your business grows and develops.
At TOTUS, we are proud of our numerous clients who have been able to successfully develop relationships with other clients in the center, and often refer leads, customers and even offer up entrepreneurial advice to one another. At times, these relationships have developed organically, as people run into neighbors in the corridors or common areas. Other times, these relationships have formed after clients have attended one of the many networking options available to them through the center.
As the summer winds down and we all head back to our businesses with a refreshed energy, our team is looking forward to hosting several new networking events during the remainder of 2019. Until then, we have developed our top three recommendations on how to get the most out of any networking event you may attend.
- Sign up for Appropriate Groups
We can’t stress this enough. Make sure to do your research on a networking group before you sign up to attend. Is there a list of members online, and are those members individuals who could be beneficial for your business? If not, move on to another group.
Also, reach out to the group’s organizer with your interest, but ask for a complimentary pass for an event or two first, before you make a decision to join. If you don’t feel the events are right for you, or your business, you will have avoided paying an annual membership fee or paying to attend an event that won’t benefit your particular business.
- Join Committees
Walking into a room of hundreds of individuals who are all looking to network with each other can be intimidating. We’ve found that the best way to get around this once you’ve joined a networking group is to sign up for a specific committee.
These smaller committees often meet outside of the larger group’s events. It’s easier to form more meaningful and personal relationships with other committee members whom you’ll be working with more intimately, than it often is to walk up to a stranger in a room and pitch your business.
- Don’t Be Afraid to Walk Away
One thing we’ve learned from our networking efforts over the years, is that these groups often change over time. While these changes aren’t necessarily bad, they may not be right for your business anymore, and that’s okay. Walk away, and don’t feel the need to stick it out because of an allegiance to the group.
For example, if a group you’re a member of broadens their requirements for accepting new members (i.e. adding new industries to the list of accepted members), and those new industries won’t be beneficial to your business, it might be time to leave the group. While this change certainly benefits the networking group’s membership numbers, your time is your most valuable asset. Don’t waste time continuing to attend this group’s events with new industries that may not be compatible with your business networking goals.
What tips do you have for achieving networking success?