We hear it everywhere: eat local, buy local, support local organizations. It is a great trend, this way you are supporting your fellow entrepreneurs within your community. It is a win-win.
What about networking? Local networking groups and events deserve to be promoted everywhere as much as local restaurants. In fact how about combining the two? But I am really getting ahead if myself here.
So, what are the advantages of local business networking?
- It is right here.
There is no need to travel far to find a great place to network. It is right in your local area. You can easily attend group meetings or events after work.
- It is affordable.
Joining a local networking group is typically free or low cost, depending on the group and the industry. Local business networking events will not break a bank either. Sometimes a local networking group can partner with a local venue (a restaurant or a hotel) and charge a minimal admission fee or allow the venue to keep the food/beverage profits. This allows you to network while supporting local business.
- It is for everybody.
Regardless of whether you are looking to start a business or you are a seasoned business owner, pursuing local networking opportunities will benefit everyone.
Ok, you are now convinced that this is a right move for you. What’s next? I am sure there are many options for networking in your area right now, both online and in person.
First up, search Facebook for online communities and networking groups. They don’t have to be exactly within your industry. Remember the rule of networking: it is not what others can do for you; it is what you can do for others. You are looking for driven and passionate people who are looking for ways to help others and grow their business. They are most likely already networking.
Another great portal is called Meetup.com. You will have to dig a little to find networking groups among the gardeners and book-club meetings. But the advantage of this service is that you are going to be meeting face-to-face at the end. Talking in person is still the most powerful tool of networking.
Don’t forget to visit your local chamber of commerce to see how much they are doing within the community. If you are lucky, you can score some valuables seminars with the local or invited top-managers.
Offline networking and trade groups are helpful too. They schedule regular meetings to keep you updated on what’s up and coming in the area and in your industry. At least, find out what you have to do to join their mailing list.
Some may say that they live in a small town and they got nothing going on. Well, it is up to you now to create a networking group and have talented business professionals in your area gather and help each other grow. At the end of the day, you are all contributing to the same community. By the way, 100AM has a great tool to create your own local networking groups, add participants and interact with each other. Check it out.