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Networking can expand your business reach. You can find more clients and customers by attending networking sessions.
A networking meeting brings together business people, owners, professionals, and others to meet each other. You want to build a network of people who get to know you and what you do.
This means that you engage people in conversation about what they do, concerns they might have about business in general, problems they face. An effective networking group does much more than just exchange business cards.
Many networking groups exist. Some are local, others are national--or even international. Look for networking groups in your area. Some of them will be listed on MeetUp.com.
Most networking groups let you attend the first meeting without actually joining. You can get the "feel" of the group and how it might help you. Others limit membership to a single business in each sector. Some are open and relaxed, others are tightly regulated.
You can start your own networking group. It's easier than you might imagine. You started your own business, didn't you? Starting a networking group is much easier, and I speak from my personal experience of having done both.
Example: Ralph is a chiropractor who runs a wellness center. He has been expanding over the past several years--adding a nutritionist and healthy foods experts, a certified hypnotist who does classes in weight management, a massage therapist, and more. Ralph tried several networking groups and was disappointed in all of them. They were too structured or they were too limited or they charged too much for the benefits offered. He decided to hold his own networking sessions at his place. He put the word out on social media, and he set up his own site on MeetUp.com. Once each month, his place is filled with local business people and professionals anxious for a relaxed evening out, meeting new people, discussing problems with regulars, etc. Ralph gets local caterers, bakers, cafes and others to furnish hors d'oeuvres and other goodies for the monthly meeting. There is no cost to Ralph, and it gives them the exposure they otherwise would not have.
Networking meetings are a good way to promote your business. If you have the space, consider starting one of your own. Restaurants, wellness centers, fitness operations, artists' studios, and many others have space that can be effectively used for networking meetings.
Networking sessions are not places to sell your goods and services. They are meant to expand your sphere of influence, get to know others, pass the word around, and get referrals.
Many promotional methods are scattered throughout these write-ups. You can promote your business at no cost, or at very little cost, in many ways. Social media is the new way to promote, but don't ignore the older methods which still work.