Which networks should I join?

Before you can answer this question, it is best to answer the following questions:

* Which networks are your current clients and prospects attending?

* How much time do you have available each week/fortnight/month to commit to a network?

* Based on your current commitments, what is the best time of dayand the best day of the week  for you to attend a networking event?

* Why do you want to attend a networking event?

* What specifically are you wanting to achieve?

* How will you make this happen?

Once you are totally clear on your answers to the above questions your choice will be easy. My rule of thumb is to try before you buy. Most professional networks will allow you to attend one or more meetings as a “guest” . May I suggest that you attend with an open mind – the first time you attend anything you can feel a little out of your comfort zone. However, if you thought the network had potential, always return at least once or twice to see if this network really suits your criteria for prospects before you decide whether you will become a member.

Personally, I find if I see clients at a networking event, it is great to reconnect in a non-pressured and informal way. And if this is a network that my clients are attending, chances are there may be some potential prospects there too. And if I am ever pressured to join a network, it is usually my exit sign. No one wants to be sold to – and if the network is professionally run, attracts lots of interesting people, there is no need to sell it – there will be queues to join.

Some of the networks that I have attended in the past and encourage others to attend include:

Womens Network Australia –  www.womensnetwork.com.au

  BNI Business Network International – www.bni.com

BRG – Business Referral Group – www.brg.com

Associations Forum www.associations.net.au a network for the Executive Officers of Not For Profit Associations

Meetings Events Australia – www.mea.org.au a network for people in the Meetings and Events Industry

Network Central – www.networkcentral.com.au

Terri Coopers Network – www.terricooper.comm.au

And I encourage you also to consider the Business Enterprise Centres and the Chamber of Commerces throughout Australia.

Of course there are industry specific networks – Institute of Chartered Accountants, Banking and Finance Professionals, Women in Technology, Women in Finance etc. and again it pays to be an active members of your relevant institute or association.

From past experience, I have found that every now and then, you walk into a new network, and decide “This is my TRIBE” – these are the people that I am wanting to network with forever. You join on the spot and become a very active member. Where do you find these networks? Well you might like to start with answering the questions from the start of the article and use your answers to guide your choice.

You may also think a little bit laterally about your choice of networks – consider networking is also possible at sporting events, special interest groups, political groups – wherever you find people with mutual interests.

And finally, no matter which networks you attend, always remember the basics:

*Act like the host not the the guest

*Ask question and listen to the answers

* And most of all follow up without being pushy.

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