Networking groups can be very useful for the self employed. These can be purely social or heavily pushing leads, can be formed for educational purposes, or may even have charitable goals also. The membership may be large or small, open or restricted. You may thrive in the strong referral atmosphere of a group like BNI or find that much too pushy and competitive for your personality. Personally, I like a small, socially oriented group much better, but chances are you can find something to fit your needs. There are even on-line communities like Sohodojo (Home of the nanocorp and small business revolutionaries) and Ryze Business Networking.
Or start your own group. This can be hard to do if you don't have a core of at least a few people who are committed to showing up. Too often groups like this break down because there aren't enough "regulars" - people who can be counted on to be there. New members often don't feel comfortable if they don't see a good head count; having a core group of dependable people helps keep attendance up.
Restaurants like IHop, Denny's, Bob's Big Boy and similar places are usually very happy to have a small networking group that shows up once a month or even once a week, especially if you do it outside of their peak hours. Often they can give you a table or tables set off from the other patrons, perhaps in an area they normally don't open until they are more busy.
If you do start a group, make sure that you send reminders if it isn't as simple as "every Wednesday at 10:00". Even every other week will confuse people and they just won't remember if this is the "on" week or the "off" week. Send reminders a day or two before and perhaps a week before also.
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More Articles by Tony Lawrence © 2009-11-07 Tony Lawrence