Networking can be an opportunity to meet and form business relationships with like-minded businesses and entrepreneurs. To share information, ideas, opportunities and find possible partners or collaborators.
Types of Networking
There are several types of networking. Our advice would be to try out a range of meetings and find ones that suits you and can fit in with your business.
- Formal contact networks – there will generally be less competition as they usually only allow one person per industry in each group. This can be beneficial as if you are the only person in that group then you will be the first choice. The meetings tend to be weekly and can consist of very early breakfast meetings or lunch meetings. Example – BNI
- Relaxed contact network – they tend to be bigger than the formal contact network groups but with less frequent meetings, usually either fortnightly or monthly. There maybe multiple people from one industry, however this shouldn’t be seen as a negative as it may open new doors for you. Meetings can either be online, or face-to-face breakfast or lunch meetings. Example – Pink Link Ladies, 4N
- Online networks – these groups are purely online and they give you the opportunity to make connections with people from all over the country and the world. If you are a busy person and struggle to make face-to-face meetings then these are ideal for you. They also tend to be lower in cost or occasionally free and you can join multiple groups within the network. Example – Mums In Business International, Unpretentious networking
- Community Service Clubs – These groups are focused on humanitarian causes and giving back to the community. It may take longer to build business relationships, although you may have a chance to do business with other members. Example – Rotary International
- Professional Associations – these are created for specific professions, such as accountants, health and social, estate agents. They tend to more focused on building contacts and sharing ideas and advice with other members. Example – Institute of Certified Bookkeepers, Professional association of self-caterers
(the majority of meetings are currently being held online due to covid-19)
Each networking group also targets different skill sets too – there really are a vast quantity of groups out there!!
BNI is focused around referring people – pros are loads of contacts, cons are that the leads aren’t necessarily quality ones as there is pressure to constantly refer…
Other groups such as Spark focus on developing your selling skills – great if that’s not something you’ve done much of in the past, it can be quite fast paced so may be daunting for someone who is introverted and never tried networking, however the team are really friendly.
There are several women focused groups which are useful as the dynamics can be very different, they focus more on helping each other which is fantastic.
I am not aware of any male focused groups but then I’ve not looked!
As we’ve discussed before it really helps to know who your ideal client is and head to the networking groups where they hang out – this may not be where you feel most comfortable initially.
If you’re targeting businesses then BNI or The Business Network may be a great place to start.
Both Lou and I have contacts with a lot of the networking groups so if you would like a friendly introduction and someone to go with let us know and we’ll happily introduce you and give you some pointers.
Most groups offer one or two visits free, some are always free others are a subscription to join the club.
In all instances you will be asked to do a quick introduction – usually between 30seconds and a minute so it is useful to have something prepared, feel free to practice here!
Top Tip for networking: type your contact details in word before the meeting then you can copy and paste it into the chat after your introduction!
Here are some to a small selection of network groups:
Pink Link Ladies – https://www.pinklinkladies.co.uk/
Unpretentious Networking – https://www.facebook.com/unpretentiousnetworking
Spark Networking – https://www.sparknetworking.co.uk/
4N – https://www.4nonline.biz/
CWS Creatives – https://cwscreatives.co.uk/
BNI – https://bni.co.uk/
Louise & Su x