Article by Jane Tweedy, Business Advisor, Western Sydney Business Centre
February is a great time to commence your 2017 networking strategy. Over the next three weeks we’ll cover why network, how to locate and attend networking events, and how to network online.
For first time networkers, networking is not as daunting as you may think! Most groups are very welcoming and many people are as nervous as you!
– meet potential clients and referral partners, including people connected to the attendees
– learn and ask questions
– meet fellow business owners and local influencers
– build relationships and practice your elevator pitch
– get out of the office – especially important for home based businesses!
Consider whether a group could meet your desired goals and if they suit your style, as there are so many different networking groups, from highly structured to casual. You could network all day and night, so your purpose for joining is important, as well as allocating time and money to spend on networking.
Costs – Networks range from free to thousands per annum. Free groups are usually sponsored (find out by who, could be a competitor), and may have up to 50% no show rate. Often there is an expectation to buy a coffee to cover the room cost. This certainly doesn’t mean free groups are bad, but allow for these factors! Paid networks may be per meeting, per annum or a combination of the two.
Where do you find networks?
– your local Business Chamber and Council will be a good starting point, especially for local businesses
– check the community Noticeboard section in The Western Weekender
– meetup.com has thousands of groups, so filter by area and business and/or your target industry e.g. property
– search Eventbrite and other ticketing services
– Facebook Groups often advertise local networking and events
– industry associations for your target market (you may need to be admitted as a guest or associate member)
– from your business advisor – we network too, plus we run Gen YQ in Penrith for 18-35’s
Next week we’ll cover what to do at and after the networking event.