On Networks Groups (Part One)
I was trying to think about how I could talk about this topic and address it in a way that would be fair and balanced without injecting too much personal opinion and decided to talk about the types of groups and then later more specifically. It is important to remember that you will have preferences that cannot be linked to me, but that each of us has a common purpose in our network. More business and possibly more friends.
So we can begin to analyze the different kinds of groups. There are many different types of groups, but it is easier to categorize them according to the meeting format rather than using individual categories such as rooms of commerce or women’s groups.
Most groups fall into one of 4 main categories. These are Social Network, Business Network, Leadership Groups and Networks with a Program.
Social networking is part of our daily lives whether we realize it or not. Each time we attend a feature involving a group of people, we are social-level networks. Whether we’re attending a charity event, going to a friend’s party, going to a religious service, or attending an organized social networking event, we’re in a networking environment.
In most cases, a great deal of participation in these groups is not related to business. However, there are always opportunities to meet people who can or know prospective clients. When you attend these types of features, it is advisable to have a few business cards in your pocket if you meet someone else who is networking for their business, but remember that business networking is not the primary purpose of the feature, so be very coincidental in the way you approach others about your business.
Social Networking Tip:
Don’t assume that any individual at these features is not a good prospect for your business. You will get many opportunities there. It’s just good to remember that people are there for many reasons and may not want to talk about business.
network Believe it or not, there are very few groups or organizations that are merely “business networking groups”. This category, for the purpose of our discussion, is reserved for groups that do not have speakers or programs. An example of business networking will look like a room after trade. In business networks, you just gather with other business partners to talk about your businesses.
I find it much better to have a lot of time talking to people about my business, rather than talking for a short time and then sitting down and listening to a program. This format enables you to get to know many people within the allotted time. In some cases, you can even do business with someone you’ve met for the first time.
This format enables you to get to know people very well and sometimes helps to start the relationship without having to meet for lunch or coffee later. The only thing that makes this format difficult is if you are ashamed. For the shameful individual it is sometimes not easy to just walk into a room and talk to people they don’t know.
Business Network Tip:
Build a core contact group of people you see at several different meetings. This gives you a broad base of contacts through these people, as they build their networks. Always know the “most popular people” in the room. They will often know most of the others and can help expand your network quickly.
Leads Groups are highly structured. This is the largest segment of business network. There are several formats to guide groups that vary in slightly different ways. In most cases, the main group involves a large table. Usually, a leadership group is limited to one person per industry. So if you want to be part of a leading group that already has one of your kind, you won’t be able to join that group until there is an opening created by that person who leaves.
Groups usually lead about 5 to 20 people. In most leading groups, you get a fixed amount of time to get up and talk about your business, ranging from 2 to 5 minutes, depending on the size of the group. It is a dedicated time, no one else speaks and you turn turns.
Leadership groups are good for people who are ashamed or for those experiencing problems in a non-structured meeting. If you are a member of a good leadership group, members are actively seeking referrals for other members. This can lead to many issues if you consider the fact that everyone has a personal network of about 200 people. This does not mean that it is the best format of meeting or not a good format, but rather it is good for you if you prefer structure.
Leaders generally meet early in the morning or for lunch.
Leaders Groups Hint: Leadership Group
Make sure members are assisted to help you. Give them tools they can carry to represent you when they meet someone who needs your product or service. Make sure everyone understands what you are doing and who your best prospects are.
Network with a program
Many trade associations and rooms of commerce follow this format. The meeting usually starts with an open network for a period of 15 minutes to an hour. This is then followed by a presentation by a guest speaker or a current member.
In this environment you will not have much time to really get to know people unless you always attend the meetings. In most cases, these meetings are best suited for initial contact by meeting prospects for coffee or lunch. It is recommended that you use a system to take notes and qualifying prospects for later follow-up.
Generally speaking, these meetings end after the presentation and people remain asleep for 15 to 30 minutes before cleaning the room.
Network with a Program Tip:
Get to know the leaders of the organization. In most cases, they will know a lot of the members, as they will have a leading role. These individuals can be of the greatest help when looking for prospects or references.
As I said at the beginning of this article, your feelings about these definitions may differ from mine. This is important when you are looking for meetings to attend or share groups that have defined your goals on what you are trying to achieve. Be specific when setting these goals.
Remember business doesn’t always come in the first contact or meeting. Be consistent for best results. Try balancing your network with a combination of the types of groups and meetings you attend. Each one has its own unique benefits and can help you with a well-rounded presence in the business community.