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umans throughout their evolution have been united in social groups. In the prehistoric era, it helped us to survive. Moreover, in the modern world, with their help, we satisfy our need to belong to a certain community, share experiences and even grow professionally. Do you want to exchange with others too, but you don't have the right circle in your city? This article will help you! Below I will tell you how to start a networking group and ensure that it develops properly.
Step-by-step instructions on how to start a networking group
Step #1 Basic research
As soon as you have the idea of organizing a networking community in your city, research the subject first on the Internet. Use a Google or Bing search for this purpose, explore hashtags in professional and social networks, look through the city forums. Perhaps someone is already engaged in similar activities, and it will be easier for you to join an already functioning organization.
Step #2 Analyze and interview your target audience
If no one has closed a particular niche with networking events before you, or if such things are not popular in your city, then you need to find out why. You can do this by searching on LinkedIn, setting suitable parameters.
Here's how to start a networking group by doing the proper research:
- put your city in the filter;
- select the size of the company;
- choose a company's field of activity from the list (tourism, manufacturing, journalism).
You can view the members on the company page and see how many experts in your field will be interested in the new community. Also, you can do the same with Twitter, Facebook, or Instagram research. Many professionals list their city, position, and interests in their profile descriptions. There is even a tool for Twitter called Followerwonk.
Step #3 Set goals and grow slowly
When you've found your target audience, made sure there's demand for a networking society in your niche, you need to set a goal. What will your group do? Sometimes such communities are created solely for socializing and having a good time. You may also have a more global plan. For example, you want to gather all young businesspersons to exchange experiences or take writing workshops.
Another thing to keep in mind is that you don't want to invite everyone to your party and do large-scale advertising. Better to gather a group of 5-15 motivated and interested people who will not miss meetings. In such a close circle, it will be easier to connect and help each other professionally.
Always choose quality over quantity. When you ask yourself how to start a networking group this is the most important rule.
Step #4 Choosing the right website to interact with group members
Another important rule of how to start a networking group is choosing the right platform for interaction. You won't physically have time to run a Facebook group, tweet regularly and create visual content for Instagram. Choose one platform where you will make announcements, share news, and post dates for your next event.
The advantage of Facebook for the networking community is creating a professional page, putting a meeting date on the calendar, and sharing the event with other people. At the same time, you can communicate easily on Twitter, and on Instagram, it is faster to create a branded page and post photos from meetings.
Step #5 Channels and advertising options for the event
Above, we argued that quality is more important than quantity. It is true, but you still have to inform others about the upcoming networking event somehow. It is the essential action in the instructions on how to start a networking group.
To accomplish this, you can create an advertising campaign on social networks, send out emails, print posters, call your colleagues and acquaintances. You can't do entirely without advertising, at least free advertising like reposting on social media and distributing invitations to the event on Facebook.
Step #6 Make a clear schedule and timetable for future meetings
Always schedule upcoming community events on your calendar. Preferably, all members of your networking group should have access to it. Your sessions can be once a month, but others need to know precisely when it's going to be. Without a schedule, the community will disintegrate, or members will change all the time. While considering how to start a networking group, don't forget to choose a method of notifying participants of scheduled meetings.
Step #7 Pick your guests, activities, and entertainment
To attract top professionals to your networking community, you don't have to offer them permanent membership right away. It would help if you started by inviting the pros to the event as speakers or for a master class. Maybe in the future, they will want to become part of the team. It's also essential to create other fun activities for attendees. It can be something not even related to your profession or business.
Step #8 Space and time for accessible communication among group members
It's also essential to give some time for members to talk freely. It's how bonds within your networking community are cemented. At the same time, a favorable attitude will cause other members to come more often because they have already made friends and acquaintances.
These were the basic steps of how to start a networking group. Besides organizational moments and research, do not forget to listen to the members of their groups and consider their opinions. And for the proper organization of contacts, use the relationship management app to organize the interaction with business contacts conveniently.