Business networking groups are an excellent way to meet new contacts who can provide referrals for your business from their existing customers, friends, and family. The groups meet on specific schedules with a focused purpose to learn about each other’s businesses and share general business tips. Networking can easily put you in touch with dozens, if not hundreds, of business owners who have the same goal as you – find qualified referrals to grow your customer base.
So, the question is: “Do I need to focus all my networking time with one specific group, so I get to know them really well and they know everything about me and my business, or do I need to belong to many groups?” This is something to carefully consider because there are both time and money investments involved in this decision.
Depending on your industry and the size of your business, you might do really well in a networking group that sends repeat business to each other. Think of groups like realtors who need trade services for their home buying clients on a regular basis. This type of focused group could be a good fit if you also need to limit how many weekly meetings you can attend and you have a limited marketing budget for membership fees.
Other industries do better when they visit and join multiple networking groups. This allows them to continuously meet new people with new customer bases that can be expanded to yours. Your industry may benefit from a regular influx of new customers versus repeat customers who only need you once in a while. Consider your industry and what new contacts would mean growth in your business.
Multiple networking groups also allow you to engage with others and refine things like your messaging and “30-second commercials”. It helps you stay sharp and focused as you learn how your business can benefit a wider customer base. Complacency can make us lazy in our approach to our business, so consider the benefits of staying engaged and intentional growth with other business owners.
If you’re only participating in one network group, at some point you all know each other and may even begin to take each other for granted instead of being focused on finding and sharing qualified leads with each other. Ask yourself whether it’s become more of a social meeting or if the focus is still on sending new customers to other businesses.
As a business owner, your goal is to increase your numbers the most efficient way possible. Consider travel time to and from networking meetings, in addition to the actual meetings. Factor in one-to-one meetings with other business owners and keep track of what new business is generated as a result.
What is the best option? Only you can answer that with certainty for your business. Take time once a quarter to examine your numbers and results and try a new networking opportunity from time to time to see if it makes a difference for your business.