Anyone have experience starting a local networking group?

10 replies
Anyone have experience starting a local networking group?

No direct sales or anything like that... All members will be business owners and the goals to keep business in the network for lack of a better phrase...

Anyone have any experience in starting a networking group? Any recommended reading?

Thank in advance for replies. I look forward to the dialogue.
#experience #group #local #networking #starting
  • Profile picture of the author ShayB
    I ran a local biz networking group for several years. Loved it.

    If you aren't very experienced, I would recommend using to start your group. It's a nice platform for groups, not expensive, and they have a TON of resources to help you get your group going.

    They are also very willing to help you if you have any troubles getting started, have waiting lists for groups - and they'll mail out an announcement to that list about 72 hours after you start the group - and they help you with promotion and such.

    I'd be happy to help you if you need anything.
    "Fate protects fools, little children, and ships called Enterprise." ~Commander Riker
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  • Profile picture of the author iwillbeontop
    Thank you Shay for replying. In fact the networking group is for Woman Owned Businesses. I handle the Web Development and SEO for a local marketing firm and the owner of the firm is a woman. I'll be handling the website and internet marketing. So far we they already have several woman owned businesses.

    I already had started a "MeetUp" in my notes to bring up to them. So far I have these talking points to bring up:

    -Create a board of directors or advisors.
    -Create mission/purpose.
    -Create a program/itinerary for the year.
    -Start a MeetUp.
    -Create campaign to recruit new members.

    We have:
    -Brand/Visual Identity
    -Website in progress
    -Meeting Space
    -Ability to create and print, print material
    -Strong core of founding members

    I would appreciate any and input you and anyone else may have. Maybe we could create an official Free WSO for people interested in starting a local networking group!
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  • Profile picture of the author Scheherezade
    While I have not started my own, I've been part of several networking groups, and on the board of one.

    All groups had membership fees and were supposed to promote business and referrals within the group... Unfortunately many members are juiced about self promotion and never reciprocate. How to prevent that would be a great consideration.

    In one group, it often took forever to set up the next committee meeting or to accept the previous minutes... I squawked on that one. Have a gate keeper, someone who keeps the membership on task and on topic. Remember that everyone's time is valuable, including yours, so use it wisely!

    Is the purpose of the group to mastermind? If not, consider having a couple meetings or subgroups for the purpose of masterminding. Each member gets a turn sharing a challenge and the group brainstorms solutions or makes suggestions, or shares what works for them. All topics are considered private to group members and no one shares what's been said outside the group confines.

    If I were starting my own group today, I would set up email communication with group members and conduct surveys for voting of topics of import to membership. The more ideas you can generate pre-meeting, the easier to keep the meeting on task and productive.

    Consider a pet project for the group... either a charitable drive, or a scholarship award, or something like that. A group with a purpose that does some good, is going to a) make the members feel good about belonging to something with an altruistic goal, b) gain good press and coverage for its members based on free publicity of their good deeds which will then promote both the group and the members in terms of good will.

    That's all that comes to mind at the moment and may be stuff you've already considered.
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    • Profile picture of the author ShayB
      One thing you might do is to have an incentive for people who provide leads. In our group, dues are waived for those who have a large number of leads given out.
      "Fate protects fools, little children, and ships called Enterprise." ~Commander Riker
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  • Profile picture of the author iwillbeontop
    Great stuff so far guys/gals.... Ive been taking notes and will be sharing with the group soon!!!!
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  • Profile picture of the author jacquic
    You need to think about:

    Structure (informal, formal, somewhere in between, how much time on each activity, etc)
    Cost (covering your time, the venue, refreshments)
    Membership fees (if any) and what they get in return
    Expectations of the group
    How often you meet
    The time of day you'll meet


    Try not to have a large committee - that will be death to the group!

    Good luck
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  • Profile picture of the author sdentrepreneur
    I have been part of Business Networking and Business Referrals by LeTip International, Inc. and BNI International - Business Networking and Referrals Networking groups for many years. Was very successful with them. You can start your own but you may consider starting a new chapter with one of these groups, the leadership will funnel people to you.

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    • Profile picture of the author sprks79
      Starting a networking group is very exciting.. and has some troubles. I was a co-founder of a young professionals networking group in my last location. It was a ton of fun to be part of. Most of the issues have already been listed, times, dues, structure and the sorts. MeetUp is a fabulous site, it helped us get started before I moved us to a completely localized site with all of the same functionality. The largest problem we had was some people were not team players. We tried to have incentives for dealing inside the group, but unfortunately it was not enough. If you can somehow get around that obstacle, then you would have an amazing group. Hope it all works out for you.

      PBN site builder. Expired domain scraper. Website Hoster.....Oh, and an amazing guy. :)

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  • Profile picture of the author CoachManny
    I go to networking events including BNI and have found value in growing by home business.

    Did you ever start an event? I have thought about it but that's it.... thought about it :-/

    Anything to share?


    Manny Rodriguez Blog:

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  • Profile picture of the author localvseo
    I have found the most successful groups in terms of building long-term relationships were the ones I belonged to that did not focus on spending the whole time doing "commercials" for each business. Sure time is set aside to learn a little about the business, but the more valuable part of the meetings are the discussions on topics relevant to group members. It's a great way to bond with others and not feel like you are being pitched. Then have smaller meetings with 2-3 members of the group and take time to learn about their business in detail. Then you will know what type of customer/client that they are looking for and you can refer. You will find that over the long term you will have stronger bonds that will lead to more introductions for everyone.
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