Do you want to start a business networking group from scratch? Or you need a sample business networking group business plan template? If YES, then i advice you read on.
You sure would have lost count of the number of times you have heard that networking is the best way—or one of the best ways—to grow your business and constantly attract new clients or customers. This point can be proven by the huge number of business networking groups out there—such as Original Tuesdays, Meet-up groups, and many others.
Business networking groups bring together businesses within an industry or geographical location to enable members share experience and best practices, support each other, and find mutually beneficial opportunities. Business Networking Group is a group of like minded people that come together to share the same business interest.
This is different from Business Associations in the sense that association is of a wider circle, and most time impersonal. While business group meeting is of a small circle, and everybody have a sort of business relationship with one another; and there is no necessary dues to be paid for joining Business networking groups unless member of the group are raising money to achieve a goal or contribute to a charity.
It is said that joining business networking groups is one to advance one’s career fast. There are thousands of business groups out there that you can join to challenge yourself and advance your career, but you can take a new route by starting your own business networking group and build it to any level you wish.
In this article, I will start by outlining the importance of joining a business networking group and how you can start your own business networking group. At the end of this article, you should know all it takes to start a business networking group.
So, if you have been looking for a means to promote your business without parting with huge advertising costs, join a business networking group. But what if you can’t find a group that fits your needs among the many groups in your locality? If this situation is the case, then starting your own group is a good option. However, it’s also a risky proposition because achieving it requires a lot of time and effort.
If you are really bent on starting your own business networking group, then follow these guidelines to increase your chances of building a group that will last long and make a strong positive impact on many individuals and businesses.
3 Benefits of Joining a Business Networking Group
- Career Growth-: As I mentioned above, business networking groups helps to advance one’s career. This is because business groups are always made of people from the same line of career and you get to learn practical tips for advancement of your career and new happenings in your career world from older professionals in your group.
- Business Growth-: If the business networking group is for people running the same type of business, it will help in your business growth as members of your group will refer clients to come when necessary. So you can get new business deals from your networking group members.
- Fun-: Apart from all the business and monetary benefits that comes with joining business groups, there is the fun or mixing up with successful people and the occasional group lunches and dinners adds to the fu derived from joining such groups.
Now you have seen the benefits of joining business networking groups, its time to discuss how to start your own business networking group.
Starting a Business Networking Group – Sample Business Plan Template
1. Research-: This is the first step to starting your own business networking group. You need to make a choice on the type of business networking group you wish to start, remember to narrow your choice to make your exact career or business.
For instance, if you are in the structural architecture career, your business networking group has to focus on structural architecture. After you narrow down your choice of focus for the group, you can carry out a research to know about other related business networking groups in the area and how they operate.
2. Define your group’s purpose-: Your first step towards starting a successful business networking group is to write down what you want in the group, why you are starting it, and what you hope to achieve in the short and long terms.
Also, write down what makes the group different from similar groups in your locality, and why you think people will be interested in the group. Then write down how you plan to build the group from scratch, listing the first members you hope to start with.
3. Communicate with potential members-: After writing a list of people who you think will be interested in joining your proposed business networking group, contact them to inform them of your plan. Send them a copy of what you have penned down in the previous step, and ask if they would be interested in joining a networking group with those features.
Don’t expect everyone to be interested in your group. Some people will most likely not be interested. What you should do—rather than develop hard feelings—is to contact such people to ask why they are not interested. Their answers can give you great ideas for making the group more interesting and enticing. And they may even reverse their decisions after you have implemented some changes they want to see.
4. Plan an Event-: The next step to kicking start your networking business is to plan an event. The event will serve as a medium for getting your first members for the group. The event shouldn’t be held in a very extravagant location, it can be a 2-hour meeting in the weekend, just to officially start the group.
5. Look for Venue-: At this stage, you must have made up your mind on the type of business networking group you wish to start, and you have decided to have an event to formally launch the group. It is time to choose the venue of the meeting.
You can book a few hours weekend lunch in a popular open coffee shop or a restaurant that can accommodate between 20 to 50 people. However, you must bear it in mind that not all invitees will make it to the meeting. Also, the venue you pick should be close by so that your invitees can attend without much stress and inform them on time on the location f the venue.
6. Schedule a meeting with interested members-: You should now pick a date for the event. Call a meeting with all interested members of your proposed business networking group. Choose a venue everyone will be comfortable with. During this first meeting, members will get to meet each other, and you will be able to allocate responsibilities for recruiting members and organizing the group’s activities.
Also, remember to inform your invitees well ahead of time for an upcoming event to allow them clear there schedule for the date. The date should be a weekend day preferable on Saturday to allow your invitees attend without job interference.
Also during this meeting, you will review the objectives of the group, the geographic area or industry the group will cover, the schedule of meetings, and the modality for recruiting new members. However, you can schedule another meeting to discuss these aspects.
7. Invite Members-: The date and venue of the event is ready, it is time to send out invitation to invitees who if every thing go as planned would be the first members of your networking group. You can start with your professional friends on your phone contacts and email contacts.
Stating in your invitation that ‘an important business meeting will be holding on (date of the event) in (venue of the event) followed by time of the event. Also, you must remind them to come with their business friends to the event.
8. Event Agenda and Registration of Members-: Fast forward to the event day; you should go to the venue some hours before the starting time of the event to ensure that everything in the venue is as planned. Remember to come with a registration form where people who show interest to join the group can drop their details officially.
After your invitees arrive and are settled, you start by stating the agenda for the meeting. Letting them know that it is your intention to form a business networking group, where members will come regularly to share ideas and help each other and mention other agendas of the group.
Share the registration form for people that indicate interest in joining the group. Before the end of event, members can decide to choose a date and venue for another event. This way, you have officially started your own business networking group.
9. Hold another meeting to fine-tune your plans-: After the first meeting, hold another meeting, where you will review the objectives of the group once again. Choose basic social objectives if members just want an opportunity to meet and exchange views or build business relationships.
If members want more from the group, you can consider setting educational aims, offering courses or sessions if members want to improve their knowledge or skills. And if members want to raise the profile of an industry or geographical area, or represent their interests with agencies or regulators, operate as a pressure group.
You will also decide on the format of the group’s meetings as well as other avenues for interaction among group members. You may want to hold some group meetings online using private chat rooms or smartphone chat applications like Whatsapp.
Most importantly, outline and demonstrate all the benefits of membership. Invite experts to network meetings and arrange briefings on important business issues. Also, give members the opportunity to network with potential business partners (this is a very good incentive for keeping them glued to the group).
10. Spread word about your group-: The only way to attract more members to your group is to promote the group through advertising and awareness campaigns. Send invitation emails to prospective members, emphasizing the benefits of joining your group. Publish press releases in local newspapers and magazines. Hold a colorful launch event and offer reduced membership fees to those present at the launch.
In this article, I have mentioned the importance of joining business groups and steps involved in starting a networking group. You can follow these steps listed above and launch a new business networking group for you and your colleagues, and who knows, it may grow to something big tomorrow.