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Dec 22

Marketing with Networking Groups

Social networking has become an important way for a business to expand its customer base.  Your campaign should utilize it, but should also contain other strategies including some that are offline.  This post will address one offline strategy, the networking group.

Business networking groups have been around for awhile, and because they are around, it demonstrates that they work for businesses.   A group of people meet on a periodic basis, usually weekly, discuss their respective businesses with each other, and in so doing educate others to be on the lookout for possible customers for each of the others in the group while pursuing their course of business. A strong bond with another person to help refer your business to others can be a very helpful tool indeed.  There are three things that you should look for when looking for the group for you.

  1. Are the members compatible with your business?  Yes, it is important that your personality fits with others in the group, but more importantly, does the business they conduct on a daily basis put them in front of the customers that you are trying to attract?  In order for a networking group to work for everyone, you must be able to deliver leads, and they must deliver leads to you. Will each of you be able to complete that task?
  2. Do the members of the group seem to be active networkers, or are they just coming to the meeting for fellowship?  This is hard to evaluate in just one or two meetings, but as you attend keep mindful of the amount of leads that are being generated through the whole group.  If you want you can list the members and check every week as to who is giving and receiving leads. If there is only a select few that consistently generate leads, or if the quality of lead you are receiving is substandard, then you may want to reconsider rejoining the next time it is time for dues to be paid.
  3. And thirdly, speaking of dues, what is your return on investment with the group?  Generally, networking groups have a membership fee, and you may have to buy a drink or a breakfast, so you are going to be incurring expenses as a member of the group.  I know of one group that in order to entice someone to join actively promotes the dollar amount of business that is generated for a period by the leads in the group.  This means nothing as a whole, but everything to you individually. If you do not receive any leads that generate an amount of business to make attendance profitable, then perhaps it is time to leave this group and find another.

Another thing should be mentioned.  You cannot be a member of two groups and be effective. Many will disagree on this point, but it should be asked:   If you have a lead that is good for someone in two different groups, to which person do you give the lead?  And if someone else is a member of two groups with a lead, and there is a matching business in his other group, does he give that to you, or the other person?  That is why we recommend that you ask if membership is exclusive. Membership dues and other expenses add up, and you have less of a chance making your ROI positive if membership in more than one group is allowed.

 

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