What is a Networking Group?
Did you know that 80% of business professionals believe that their career and success can grow through professional networking?
A networking group is a low-cost means of marketing by developing strategic business relationships in the form of sales contacts, business referrals, and meeting other business professionals through networking events.
For small business owners, networking organizations provide a goldmine of opportunity. Building relationships in this way can drive a significant impact for both new and local businesses looking to grow. Whether you’re an up-and-coming HVAC contractor or wanting to grow your roofing business’s clientele, networking groups are sure to help your business reach new levels of success.
Should Your Business Join a Networking Group?
In short, yes! Taking advantage of networking opportunities is vital to business success.
If you’re wondering whether or not you should join professional networking groups and need a little bit more convincing, here are just some of the benefits to consider:
- It widens and strengthens your business connections: Networking allows you to build a professional network based on trust and mutual growth goals. For startups or new businesses in the home services industry, this is a great way to grow by partnering with other professionals who can introduce you to key players and help build your clientele.
- It can lead to referrals and increased business: Small business networking grants the opportunity to grow customers through referrals from trusted sources. This ultimately increases your chance for a new customer and a sale!
- You can get fresh ideas from your peers: Your network will be varied with both young professionals and older ones, carrying different experiences. Some may already be running a successful business, and others are just getting started. It provides a great learning opportunity and window into fresh perspectives you can apply to your home service business!
- You can better understand industry trends, challenges, and opportunities: By frequently attending business networking events, you will be more on top of what’s happening in your industry. This will refine your business planning.
- You will meet professionals in your industry who share the same passion: The contacts and business relationships you make will most likely be with professionals with similar goals and passions as yours. It’s a great way to meet like-minded people and support each other.
- You will gain communication skills and confidence: By actively networking, meeting new people, and pitching your business, you will build your interpersonal skills and grow more confident about your business. In the long run, this can help you build lasting relationships with strategic stakeholders.
The Top Networking Groups Your Business Can Join Today
Once you’ve decided to join a networking group, the next question is which one?
Fortunately, there are several you can choose from, each offering its own perks and scope. Here are a few you can get started with:
Your local Chamber of Commerce
A chamber of commerce refers to a network of local businesses in a particular market or those within a particular industry. The organization offers various member benefits, hosts networking events, and works toward furthering each company’s business potential in the network.
Each chamber of commerce is different. The U.S. Chamber of Commerce is a nationwide network followed by statewide chambers and, finally, smaller chambers for local communities and businesses specific to a particular niche.
Getting started with your local Chamber of Commerce is a great way to start exploring networking groups. It will allow you to immediately connect with other local businesses and you can start building a foundation closer to home. It’s also an excellent way to get involved with your community!
SCORE, which stands for the “Service Corps of Retired Executives,” is a go-to resource for many small businesses in the country.
SCORE partners with the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA), making it more affordable and accessible for small businesses and is known for its free mentoring services.
Businesses are allowed to connect with mentors face-to-face or online, participate in local networking events, workshops, and even do courses to grow their various skills.
Rotary Club International
Rotary Club International is a global network of 1.2 million business professionals, community leaders, and service-oriented individuals alike. It works with business owners specifically interested in giving back to their local community. Rotary Club is known for and has a hyper-focus on community service and development.
It’s a great way to meet other business owners with similar interests, network, and help grow your local community. To get started, find your local Rotary Club chapter.
Entrepreneurs’ Organization is a global network comprising more than 10,000 businesses that actively participate in its various programs.
Each local chapter provides offerings that are fine-tuned and built specifically for their demographic, and the network has garnered tons of positive feedback from its members.
Offering programs built for new entrepreneurs and even young graduates looking to make a start in business, EO provides value for all its members no matter what they’re looking for.
BNI: Business Network International
Are you focused on creating more business referrals? If so, BNI (Business Network International) is a great network to join.
Adopting a more transactional approach, BNI works on the philosophy of “giving is receiving,” and helps their members share referrals that will benefit their partners in the network and receive ones on the same basis.
The more referrals a business gives, the more it gets back.
BNI is one of the most extensive global networks for professionals. If you’re looking for referrals, BNI is undoubtedly your go-to resource. Find your local chapter here.
Facebook and LinkedIn groups
With over 600 million users globally and 165 million in the US, LinkedIn is one of the world’s biggest professional social media platforms to leverage. With profiles that go beyond functioning as a resume, LinkedIn has allowed several businesses to connect globally with valuable business partners and grow their customer base.
LinkedIn offers businesses the opportunity to join groups, message other users, follow popular threads and even publish their articles (content marketing, anyone?).
It acts as a safe space to grow your business, network, and establish yourself as an expert in your niche while building long-lasting, strategic partnerships.
On the other hand, you can use Facebook to start your own business community through Facebook Groups and connect with prospective customers through a Facebook Business Page.
With Facebook groups, you can either create your own or join an existing one for your local community or industry by doing a Facebook search. Groups generally offer updates on news, conversations around hot topics, and more. This gives businesses the opportunity to ask their own questions, give and receive advice, and more!
Local, regional, and national trade associations
Joining a local, regional, or national trade association not only helps your business network with others in the same industry or trade, but it allows you to develop functional knowledge and learn from one another. Here are some trade associations your business can look into!
- If you’re a plumber, consider: Plumbing-Heating-Cooling Contractors Association (PHCC)
- If you’re a roofer, consider: National Roofing Contractors Association (NRCA)
- If you’re an HVAC professional, consider: Air Conditioning Contractors of America (ACCA)
- If you’re an electrician, consider: National Electrical Contractors Association (NECA)
DIY: Build your own networking group!
Last but not least, you have the option to build your own network!
This is an excellent opportunity for home services businesses to form relationships with realtors, inspectors, contractors, and more.
For example, if you work as a plumber, it would be advantageous to have a good relationship with the local community council, establish yourself as a prime service offered within the community, and forge relationships with other related businesses that don’t directly compete with yours.
When setting up your own network, you have more control over the kind of businesses and professionals you interact with, can host your own events, and grow the success of your business on your own terms.
For more inspiration on how you can do this, check out this Forbes article!
Let Signpost Support Your Home Service Business
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