Any successful professional knows that networking is an important part of any business. No matter how many individuals you have met in the past or how far along you are in your career, it is always important to keep networking. Entrepreneurs and small business owners in particular can benefit from constant networking and finding new business partners, clients or avenues for professional growth.
However, many people struggle to find the best places to network. Not every event is a networking opportunity and it can be easy to think you are reaching out to network only to find that you are wasting your time in an unrewarding place. With this in mind, it is important for any professional to learn about the best places to network so they can start making connections and reaching out to new people.
Business Networking Groups
Business networking groups are a great place to start when it comes to finding new places to network. Chances are there are several networking groups in your local community, focused specifically on your industry or on small business owners exclusively. Another great place to check is for a local BNI chapter. BNI (Business Networking International) was founded in 1985 and has more than 150,000 members across the country. This networking group helps people come together to increase their exposure and share referrals with one another.
Many communities have local meetups that help people reach out to other professionals in their community. The organization known as Meetup is normally for social groups, but they have a chapter that is dedicated exclusively to small businesses. The U.S. Small Business Administration also has their own local meetups in cities and towns across the country. At Eventbrite.com, you can look for meetups that are both fun and provide networking opportunities. While some events may have a social aspect to them, such as a hiking trip or a sports league, they are all focused on helping professionals meet other professionals and should not be overlooked.
Business Networking Sites
While most people think of LinkedIn when they think of business networking sites, there are actually a number of different online portals meant to foster professional relationships. LinkedIn of course is a great place to start as it can help you reach out to others in a professional manner, and showcase your career accomplishments in a professional setting. Twubs is a Twitter-based site that lets you find conversations centered around whatever topic you wish, while BranchOut is a networking companion meant to work with Facebook. Other sites, such as PartnerUp (via Google+), focus exclusively on business owners and entrepreneurs and can be a valuable resource for those who own their own business.
Retreats and Conferences
While retreats and conferences may seem like a big time commitment, they are some of the best networking events available. These events bring together other people in your industry, or simply other business owners in an environment meant to be fun, educational and an opportunity for people to meet others. Chances are you will be surrounded by hundreds or thousands of other people with the same interests of goals as you, which means countless opportunities to reach out and network with others.
Keep these places in mind as you work on your networking skills and start reaching out to new people. They can be of great help to any person as they grow their brand and grow their business in today’s market.