How do I choose the right networking events for me & my business?

I go to LOTS of different networking events and am asked to speak about networking all over the UK.
For quite a lot of the people who I speak to, choosing the “right” networking event for them, and their business.
And there are a lot to choose from. Locally you most likely have a Chamber of Commerce, as well as independent networking groups. There are also likely to be a local chapter of BNI and a 4Networking group, in most towns in the UK.
You may also have come across other organisations such as Rotary, Round Table and the like.
So how do you choose what’s best for you?
My advice, particularly if you are just starting out on your networking journey, is to attend as many of the local networking groups as you can, and talk to other members.
Work out which one feels right for you. Where you enjoy the setup and culture. Make sure that you can attend regularly, so ensure that it fits around your business and lifestyle too.
And importantly, work out whether you get on with the people there. I know you don’t always have to get on with everyone in business, but the people around you at networking events are going to be important. They are the people who might work with you, they are the people who may refer their contacts to you. So being able to build strong relationships with them is going to be part of the key to your networking success.
Organisations such as BNI and 4Networking charge for membership, and both will let you have at least one visit to see if it’s for you. Take advantage of that and talk to as many members and team members as you can whilst you’re there to try to work out if it’s the right fit for you.
Once you’re in, commit. Turn up regularly. Learn from experienced members how to get the most from the events. And stick at it. Networking isn’t an overnight fix. Put the effort in and you can speed the process up, but expect it to be weeks, at least, before you start making sales, if indeed that is what you are going along for.
If you’ve read this – which networking events have worked best for you? you can let me know in my Facebook group – The Networking Retreat. If you’re not already a member, no problem, apply to join and I’ll let you in!

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Claire McTernan – Employee to Business Owner

“within two months I went from an average of one client per month from networking, to five clients”
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