Look for new creative and innovative events or host your own…
There are many opportunities to network for your business ranging from the conventional after-work mixer to more innovative or industry-specific events. The first step is to have a firm understanding of the type of network you would like to build and the people you would like to meet. It’s a good idea to ask yourself what type of event would be best to grow your business.
Many cities have multiple networking groups and events. Conduct an Internet search to see what available opportunities exist in your area and/or profession. Ask your coworkers and friends what types of organizations they belong to. Is there a Women in Business group in your area? If not, consider starting one amongst your female colleagues. Check out Business Network International (www.bni.com) to join a regional chapter where your profession is well suited. In addition, there are many networking and support organizations which tailor specifically to one or more professions such as an Arts & Crafts guild.
You can also look for unconventional networking or support groups. Although the main objective of a local knitting circle may not be to acquire referrals, you can talk with others about their similar business struggles and success. If you put in the effort to build strong relationships at the outset, when a bigger project comes up down the line, a fellow knitter may enlist the help of your business or vice verse.
Another type of networking group where many have found success is a business breakfast or brunch. Typically taking place one morning each week or each month, these small groups tend to stay focused on business and objectives as opposed to a happy hour cocktail mixer where you may end up only gaining a handful of business cards but no genuine connections. A brunch or small group may also be more appealing for someone who is a little nervous about being in large group settings with new many new people.
Another idea is to host a networking event or group of your own. Think about a common theme to unify the group – this could be as simple as a monthly club that reads and discusses a short business development book at each meeting. If you feel up to holding an event, you can invite a number of professional contacts to your home. You could try to diversify the guest you invite. For example, if you want to host a fashion/beauty industry event, invite one or two make-up artists, stylists and boutique owners and share your contacts to grow your network.
NYC SOUP can help you expand your business network, make genuine connections and gain valuable referrals. Visit us at NYCSOUP.org and join us at our next event.