Choosing the Right Network

Joni Farthing, Regional Director of The Athena Network, advises that choosing the right network group to join is crucial.

Networking is everywhere these days. How do you decide which events to attend when they all take time and many take money too?

There are three main types of network: deep, broad and niche.  Join one network from each category as they all bring different benefits to your business.

Supportive groups

Typical of deep-networking is the members-only group where each member represents a different profession.  This builds loyalty and members swap ideas, advice and recommend suppliers and potential clients to each other.  In the past it was usually men who networked like this in groups such as the original Rotary clubs but today it is a common form for women’s networking e.g. The Athena Network.

Big busy groups

Broad networking gets as many people together as possible.  People swap business cards, introduce their business and ‘work the room’. This is a great way to meet lots of people very quickly.  But they won’t easily remember you, so ensure you put in the time later to follow up the potentially useful contacts and arrange individual meetings.  Business Biscotti, and Lloyds Business Breakfast (Bristol Golf Club) work in this way.

In the know groups

Niche networking looks for numbers too, but where an industry or aim is shared.  These meetings are a great way of looking for finance, staff or getting a new job.  They help you understand the way the industry works and get the latest information and news.  The Wedding Tweet-up (Goldbrick House) is a delightful example of this as is Media First Tuesday (The Square Club).

You simply won’t have time to do more than this.  After all networking is just one part of your marketing strategy and you have to run your business too.  As with all initiatives, research online and ask others.  Most groups allow you to visit so go along to several in each category before deciding which to commit to.  Remember that it’s not the number of people you meet but the relevance and ‘quality’ of those contacts that makes a network cost-effective over time.

Joni Farthing, The Athena Network

joni.farthing@btinternet.com

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One Response to “Choosing the Right Network”

  1. chris@Bristol Builders Says:

    Good thing about networking now is that you can do it anywhere, be it at forums, blogs, convention, meetup or social media. I also believe that this is essential to your business success and another way of marketing strategy.

    Like

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