Not all networking groups are created equal, and not all of them will be right for you and your business.

Some can help you meet the right clients and prospects, but others can be so frustrating that you might want to give up networking altogether.

If you’re feeling overwhelmed trying to decide which networking groups to join, watch this week’s video below.

We’ll talk about the different types of networking groups available, and how each type can help you and your business:

There are a few different types of networking. The categories below are targeted more toward online networking, although many of the factors apply to offline networking as well.

General Networking Groups: In some groups, you have the ability to talk to a small number of people at a time – it’s similar to what would happen if you went to an event in person, and joined a conversation with the group of people around you. This gives you an opportunity to get to know each other on a deeper level. 

In other groups, each person has around 30 seconds to introduce themselves and tell others about your business. It gives you a broad idea of who’s around you, but you don’t get to know them on a deeper level like you would in a smaller group setting. 

Oftentimes in general networking groups, you can put your contact information and some information about your business in the group chat. This is incredibly valuable because you’ll be able to collect contacts, get to know other members in the future, and it’ll help you find good prospects and connections. 

Even if you don’t seem to find any good prospects at first glance, use the contact info that people provide in the chat to get to know them further. Check out their LinkedIn profile (this is my favorite as you get a lot of information on the person’s Linkedin profile) or other links they provide and see if you can find anyone you’d like to meet. 

Free or Paid Networking Groups: Free networking groups can be a great way to get started, but you may not find as many serious prospects, since there’s less commitment and no downside to joining. 

If you have to pay, even a few dollars, you’re more likely to find qualified prospects. If they’re willing to invest money into themselves, they’re more likely to be willing to invest in other products and services too. 

If you’re concerned about paying the fee for a networking event you’ve never been to, try contacting the organizer. Let them know that you’re checking out the event for the first time, and oftentimes they’ll let you join the first event for free. 

Local, National, or International Networking Groups: Where is your ideal prospect located? If your clients are local, you’ll want to make sure you join networking groups specifically for your area. If location isn’t an issue, there are groups that have meetings all over the country. Some do both online and in-person events, and some are exclusively online. What you choose here will depend on your business and what fits your needs best. 

Ongoing Networking Events: These networking events are created by organizations, affiliations, or other groups of people, and usually offer memberships with additional benefits. An example of this would be the National Association of Women Business Owners. These events are usually paid for to make up for the expenses and labor involved, but what’s most important is deciding whether or not your ideal client will be in these groups. If so, the cost of admission may be well worth it. 

Referral Networking Events: These events are built primarily to help people give leads to each other. Business Network International is a great example of an international organization that uses this type of networking event. They usually screen members before they join, and the events are paid. However, if you pick the right group with serious people, you can use it to build a personal network that’ll refer prospects or valuable connections to you. 

The end goal: No matter what type of networking event you choose, what’s most important is understanding who your ideal client is, so that you can make sure you join groups that they’re involved in. Try out new groups, and experiment with what works best for you and your business. Don’t let one group determine how you feel about networking, and keep trying until you find your perfect fit. 

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