Do you belong to any entrepreneurial networking groups?
I just launched my new business focused around running corporate events. I love my job, but I don't have as much familial support because my schedule is pretty demanding right now. I want to join an entrepreneurial group to meet some people in the same position as me and get some guidance. Do you think entrepreneurial networking groups can grow your biz or are a waste of time? Any ideas on which ones to join?
Thanks for the advice!
If you want a group to help you grow your business, you want to join a networking group. I belong to numerous networking groups, plus my local Chamber of Commerce, and I find them all quite valuable. One good resource to try is Meetup.com, where you can find groups related to any interest you can think of, including entrepreneurial and small business. What you want is a group that blocks two members from the same trade. A lot of what you'll get from these groups, besides advice, is networking, and that is critical to a small business. You will turn all the other members of that group into your sales people. Never underestimate the power of people who know people.
Hope this has provoked some thought.
I really empathize with your lack of familial support but many times family members are not as fired up as we are or are just not capable of giving the type of support we need.
I started a network recently that has provided me much of that support. Over the years, I had kept in contact with the people that seemed to have similar views on getting work done and professionalism in general. These people also had different (complementary) skill sets but all appreciated what the other did.
I invite these people out once a month or so and they make time because they find it useful as well. Not all are entrepreneurs, some are contacts from companies that I have dealt with but they have challenges as well that can be addressed in the group. They also make me laugh which is also very important.
One of the most important things I do to keep the group going is to capture ideas in a quick summary. This provides a record, brainstorming ideas, of what people said that they would enjoy doing as well as providing a progress report and foundation for the next meeting.
It takes me about an hour or so to get all the points down in a summary and get email confirmation on the points covered but it is worth it. I always come away from these sessions with a renewed sense of focus.
I know you are proud of what you provide and the way you provide it and this should be the foundation of your group. Go ahead, pick from some of the great ideas already posted or contact people you admire who may be caterers, accountants or tradespeople, tell them what you are thinking and invite them out for coffee.
If you can commit to being the scribe who captures any worthwhile ideas, it will also serve you well.
Have fun with this! Make it your own.
I'm not very active in this group yet...I'm a travel agent, really wanting to grow my business.. I'm disabled, so joining free networking groups online is the way I want to go.. Any thoughts?
Networking can be productive but time consuming. Consider strategic partnerships to get introduced to people you really want to meet and do the networking virtually. I like www.connequity.com. They find matches for your ideal client and professionals already calling on them
Meeting Planners International would be a great organization for you to join and they have a number of chapters: http://www.mpiweb.org/. I've also looked into local Meet-up groups in my area that are geared towards entrepreneurs. Hope that helps and best of luck!
Not sure where you are located, however, PowerCore is the most fruitful closed -ended networking group I have experienced.
It really depends on the kind of help you're looking for. A lot of entrepreneurs are working on technology-focused businesses and can be a good source of technical advice. You're not likely to make clients out of them for your corporate events business, but you might get referrals - you can't have too many friends.
I've found the Business Networking International (BNI) very helpful for my networking.
I have joined many and it is like going to church seeking salvation. You meet, socialize share each other's business opportunity and hope someone is interested in adding additional income to their financial portfolio, with your business. Most of the time. it is if you scratch my back.I'll scratch yours, which are pretty much empty promises.
For networking groups I would look to your local Chambers in your town and other around you. A good chambers has at least one networking meeting a month if not more. They would let you attend a couple before deciding on becoming a member. That has been the most effective networking groups for me. There are others. You can go to meetup.com and it will show you some networking events around you. Bni is one of the most expensive out there. If you want to grow your business via the web we can help your site get visible when people are searching for services.
There are tons of meetup groups designed for those starting a business. The trick is to find one that is Micro-enterprise focused. There are lots of people who tell you that are about helping people start businesses but they have no actual experience doing it. They are ex-corporate folks who volunteer or teach in academic venues. They can be very helpful once you've grown into an organizational size. It's the paradigm they know well. But, micro-enterprise is not the same. We don't have the resources to apply "organizational" strategies as solutions to our problems. If you'd like more information connect with me. I'd be pleased to share what I've learned over the last 35 years of micro-enterprise ownership.
I have found business networking group to be very beneficial. There are networking events put on by the chamber of commerce, BNI, as well as other, independent groups. LinkedIn might be very effective as well.
I think that all entrepreneurs require support of a network. You have to try different options until you find the right fit. Look into local incubators, meetups, women's groups, or just search on different terms until you find something local. Like everything we do, we have to experiment until we find what works.
Absolutely yes Morgan, the events industry is so reliant on specialist providers technical, creative and operational that a strong network of preferred suppliers that understand what you like and how you work is essential. The most effective way to gather the resources you will need to rely upon is to get out and meet them face to face, and let them know how you can contribute to their enterprise’s success. Be generous with your time and attention (never give your services away), any network is only ever as good as you give!
There is a very small percentage of business owners who actually understand the purpose or commercial value of networking group participation. The vast majority ether have erroneous preconceived ideas or have simply missed the point of networking entirely. Those nay-sayers are easily identified by their very evident (and commercially misguided) responses to your question.
Visit each of the industry alighted networking groups that are active in the Boston area, join the industry associations like ISES, definitely visit a few local BNI chapters and your local chamber of commerce too. See where you are comfortable and do not expect any networking group or very many of their participants’ to be “entrepreneurial”, this is a globally misunderstood term that has nothing to do with the processes you can adopt and employ in your business.
I highly recommend local Meetup groups focused on startups and entrepreneurs. They tend to be peer driven and you have a mix of founders, advisors, and capital providers. Most cities have something going on.
I run a meetup in Silicon valley and our goal is to really just help startups and entrepreneurs.
As others have said, a group with others in your same position may not be the best thing for support, but a mastermind or business coach may be a better choice for you. However, I have been part of a networking group that meets weekly for 9 years, and a significant portion of new business comes from referrals by the members. It could be a very good idea to join one if you are looking for referrals.
In terms of the support, I would also suggest an accountability partner. I've had one for 4 years and we talk almost every week about our challenges, successes and goals. I have also done business coaching and mastermind groups and those are also helpful. It's important to find the right fit (you connect well with the coach/members). Joining the wrong group just to be part of a mastermind won't work too well.
Good luck with your new business!
There are a zillion ways to grow your business, and there are a lot of suggestions already in this thread. Choose wisely. Take your time and evaluate the give and get from all of the groups and associations you find interesting. A mentor is the best way to begin the entrepreneurial journey, and score might help, but know this. Score has a lot of retired business executives providing advice that may or may not be pertinent to your business segment. If you need to start at the very beginning, you might want to find a mentor that is already successful at event planning. If you are seasoned, business formation is relevant. It takes a lot of planning and thinking, not rushing into things. As for marketing advice, that is another story.
As an author, presenter and business owner offering digital marketing services, there are a lot of free ways and low cost ways to generate leads (the key to staying in business, by the way), but you need to follow a plan that is suited to your goals.
If it's free advice you seek, you now have one more piece. If you are looking for help, that is another. My suggestion: find a mentor, and go from there. Call it a coach, advisor, counselor or mentor, you may have to pay to play.
I provide a no obligation, one hour consultation for start ups, and would be happy to provide my 2.997 cents.
Feel free to reach out, or check me out on LinkedIn.
Best of Life!
David J Dunworth
Marketing Partners LLC
There're lots of good thoughts here. They are pretty diverse but that's because, as Mike points out, there is a difference between a networking group for marketing purposes and one to mingle with peers and/or advisors to improve yourself and your business. Both are worthy goals, but are different.
Given that you're just starting, my recommendation is that you network for marketing purposes like crazy. If it's of any help, you can obtain my free ebook on "Networking...for Those Who Hate it", which might be of use to you. Copy and paste this link to get it.
http://bit.ly/NetworkingEbook (don't forget the capital letters).
When first starting, ideally you would obtain a coach for ensuring initial success. In addition, find as many mentors as you can, i.e. people more experienced or knowledgeable than you are in key areas, reach out to them, and have regular discussions. , but if the cost is prohibitive, consider a group like what Mike describes, A totally no-cost option is to join appropriate LinkedIn Groups, where business owners help each other.
Hope this helps, and good luck.
Lots of great advice on here already. Based on the type of business you have, I would also add the American Marketing Association to your list to check out.