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Moore About Business: Which networking group do I join?

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Every business benefits from networking—when it’s done right. Even if you have a referrals-driven business, what do you do before you’re in business long enough to get referrals? How do you pick the organizations to network?

There’s plenty of places in Southwest Florida, including about 15 geographical Chambers of Commerce! Then there’s ethnic and minority-focused organizations, trade associations, and groups set up for building referrals and/or networking.

I guarantee you are going to join organizations that never bring you any business. It will take awhile before you find the best fit. Even each Chamber of Commerce has its own specific goals and identity. Shop around. Visit free events to get a feel for the members. Don’t just go to one Chamber event, go to two or three events at different times with different themes so you get a “feel” for each “part” of the chamber. See how you “fit,” how you feel, your comfort level when you are networking in that organization.

As with everything in life, you only get out of an organizational membership what you put into it. So don’t blame the organization that didn’t work out for your business—look at your own actions and decide if YOU put enough EFFORT and TIME into the membership. Every year, before I renew a membership, I look at my return on investment. I compare my current client list with where those contacts initially came from. And remember, it’s not the size of the group that matters, it’s whether or not the organization is a good place for your business to be networking.