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7 Networking Groups Every Small Business Owner Should Join

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There are many elements that go into growing a successful business, and connecting with the right people is an important part of that. Building relationships can help you find new opportunities and accelerate your business growth in ways you wouldn’t otherwise, especially if you find the right people to surround you with.

Most people understand the importance of networking but have no idea where to start. Or they have a distorted view of what networking actually is. Fortunately, there are many effective and fun ways to network with other entrepreneurs.

The right networking group can help you build connections and learn from like-minded individuals. If you’re looking for some ideas, here are seven networking groups to consider:

Related: 5 Ways to Connect and Network with Other Entrepreneurs

1. Local Chamber of Commerce

A chamber of commerce is a local group that exists to support its members. You will join a chamber of commerce in your city and the group will advocate for the needs of business.

Joining a chamber of commerce is a great way to meet entrepreneurs from all different sectors. Most of these groups provide resources for business owners, including networking opportunities and the chance to hear from guest speakers.

You can consult the United States Chamber of Commerce directory to: find your local branch. However, there may be a monthly or annual fee to join, so make sure to plan accordingly.

2. SCORE

If you are looking for a business mentor, SCORE is a good resource to explore. SCORE has an extensive network of free volunteer mentors and provides workshops, webinars and information about starting a business. The organization is supported by the United States Small Business Administration (SBA).

3. Chef

chef is a networking group focused on supporting women in business, and membership ranges from Fortune 500 CEOs to successful startup leaders. You don’t always know what you’ll get when you join a networking group, but Chief provides access to a vetted community of professionals.

As a member you end up in a peer group that is facilitated by an executive coach. Members also have access to workshops, member meetings, and community groups. If you want to know more, you can request a membership.

4. The National Association for the Self-Employed (NASE)

The National Association for the Self-Employed (NASE) is a group for small business owners and entrepreneurs. NASE provides access to learning resources typically only available to larger companies.

For example, members can go for advice in the field of corporate law, healthcare and tax management. And if you need capital for your business, NASE offers grants and grants for small businesses.

Related: 8 Ways to Get the Most Out of Networking Events

5. Business Networks International (BNI)

Business networking internationally (BNI) is a global networking organization with more than 10,000 divisions around the world dedicated to referral activities.

When you join, you begin to build relationships with like-minded individuals and find opportunities through referral marketing. BNI is especially useful for service-based business owners who rely heavily on referrals. If you want more information about the group, you can: search for your local branch.

6. Entrepreneurial Organization (EO)

Entrepreneurs’ Organization (EO) is a peer-to-peer network group for entrepreneurs. Founded in 1987, EO currently has more than 17,000 members in more than 60 countries. The group offers mentoring relationships, online networking and local meeting opportunities.

There are two different membership options to choose from: a local chapter or a bridge chapter. Local chapters organize monthly events and forums, while bridge chapters meet quarterly. Bridging chapters, on the other hand, allow you to form regional connections and participate in interest-based discussions.

7. LinkedIn Groups

If you’re looking for online networking opportunities, consider joining a LinkedIn group. LinkedIn groups are a great way to build your network and create professional connections.

You can search for relevant groups directly from the search bar, or you can use the LinkedIn Groups Directory. Start with one or two groups in your industry and look for ways to contribute.

Related: 3 Ways to Creatively Connect with People After Networking Events

Effective networking

Networking can be helpful in growing your business, but only if you start it with a strategy. Here are a few tips for networking effectively with other entrepreneurs:

  • Network online: The easiest way to get started networking is to start online. Networking in LinkedIn groups or on Twitter is free and can be a great way to build authority in your industry.

  • Attend personal events: Networking online is convenient, but the best way to build relationships is to meet in person. Search for relevant events in your industry, such as conferences or trade shows. Show up for the purpose of meeting and connecting with other professionals in your industry.

  • To stay in touch: Any time you meet someone at a business event, make sure you get their contact details. Having their email address and/or LinkedIn profile makes it easier to contact that person later.

  • Be selective: Finally, you can’t attend every event or talk to everyone, so you need to focus on quality, not quantity. Spreading yourself too thin will only dilute your efforts, and you can make more of an impact by choosing which networking events you strategically attend.

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