Finding Networking Opportunities Is Easy!
By Leni Chauvin
Business networking is all about forming strong relationships built on mutual respect
and trust. Those relationships are the basis for the single most important tool
that we all need if we want to survive in the competitive 21st century.
I'm talking about referrals.
And today's savvy business professionals know that--just as night follows day--networking
leads to referral business.
Opportunities to network--to meet people for mutual support (and eventually referrals)--are
everywhere. Here are just a few places to consider starting your networking efforts:
Join your professional association. It's a powerful source for richly rewarding
contacts that can result in a tremendous number of referrals from people with a
different specialty than yours.
If possible, join the professional association of your target market. Form those
relationships. See and be seen among them and before you know it, you will be considered
the "go-to" person in your industry.
Special interest groups
Whether you're interested in sports, the Internet, politics, crafts, poetry, theater,
travel, or underwater basket weaving, there are other people who share your interests.
Ask around, look at your local newspaper listings or search the Internet for groups
you can join.
If you're new to a city and haven't had the chance to meet many people yet, you'll
be delighted to learn that a lot of communities all over the world have clubs for
people just like you.
Type your town or city and the term "newcomers club" into your favorite search engine
and you'll be able to tap into people who can help you start networking in your
Again, go to your favorite search engine. Type in your locale and the term "networking
Your Local Newspaper
Review the business section of your local newspaper. Often they list upcoming events
for the week in Monday's edition. If you can't find any networking opportunities
listed there, call a business reporter and ask him or her to point you in the right
direction. The call itself can be a very powerful networking moment.
These are structured networking organizations usually limited to one person per
occupation. The purpose is primarily to exchange business referrals, and the amount
of business that comes from a well-run group can be staggering. I started and ran
my own leads groups for over a decade and I know how powerful they can be in accelerating
Again, ask around for a good group in your area or search the search engines under
"business networks," "leads groups," or "referral groups" plus your town or city's
Workshops and Seminars
These can be wonderful networking opportunities, especially the ones that run over
several days. Take advantage of the interactive exercises and the breaks to get
to know other participants. Staying in touch after the event is over is key in deepening
Do something good for others while creating lasting relationships with your volunteer
colleagues. Knock people's socks off with what you do as a volunteer and it will
give people an indication of how you conduct your business. This will make you incredibly
attractive to potential referral partners in the group.
Chamber of Commerce
Check out the networking opportunities that your local Chamber of Commerce offers.
Also use them as a resource for finding other networking events in your community.
Opportunities abound to meet people through your children. Weather you're leading
a Scout troop, chaperoning a dance, attending a soccer game, setting up carpools,
or manning a booth at a bake sale, doesn't matter. What matters is that it's pretty
well impossible not to create relationships with other parents when you are surrounded
The Best Place to Network
The best place to network is always where members of your target market hang out.
Bottom Line: If you want more business, you need referrals, and if you want referrals,
you need to network.