Business networking means establishing mutual relationships with other business people.
Its benefits are mostly the intangible gains formed from the communication you establish with other professionals or industries.
Establishing a strong network is truly the right key to business and career success.
However, getting the right people to connect with is not easy for most people, especially those who are rather conservative in business.
Let’s help you find the best business networking groups to belong to while you run or start your business.
We’ve put together the different types of professional business networking groups for all business niches. Joining them will greatly boost your business or improve your career.
Follow through the table of content below for easy navigation.
What is Business Networking?
Business networking is the act of building a mutual relationship with other professionals like potential clients or customers.
Often, it is the networking efforts of a business owner and the clients or customers that yield the most results, especially in small businesses.
In another way, business networking refers to meeting other business owners, potential suppliers, or other experienced business professionals, to help you grow your business.
Networking gives you a pool of experts who go from the competition to the customers and allows you to offer them something. Hopefully in exchange for their services, advice, knowledge, or contacts.
How Does Business Networking Work?
Local networking events or business luncheons give you the opportunity to meet other people in similar circumstances as you work to grow your business.
These events are usually organized with the aim of introducing new concepts and methods used while also providing a platform for local entrepreneurs to meet and exchange ideas.
When you meet someone, be sure to exchange business cards and then follow up by discussing any points or topics that have come up in conversations you have had with that person.
After a few conversations, you may be able to talk about the problems you are facing.
By opening discussions first, you may be able to start exchanging information, searching for acquaintances, or exchanging business contacts.
Most business people are upbeat and positive. Regular association with these people can be a good morale boost, especially in the difficult initial stages of a new business.
You will find that many, if not all, business owners have experienced similar proof of ownership.
Not only should you attend your networking group meetings regularly, but you should be prepared to offer something of value to the group.
Hence, choose the network medium that best suits your needs.
Types of Business Networking
Business networking is basically in different types, depending on your business niche.
An event planner and digital marketer may not have the same type of business network due to their respective niches.
Hence, getting the right type of business networking group to join is very important to the success of your business or career.
Here are the different types of business networks:
- Networking Groups
- Business Seminars
- Social Media Network
- Professional Associations
- Community Service Club
What Are the Benefits of Business Networking?
Developing relationships as a business owner and offering help to others does more than just bring you leads or generate referrals.
Networking helps you identify opportunities for partnerships, joint ventures, or new areas of expansion for your business.
In addition, professional networks can allow you to promote yourself or stay abreast of the latest trends or technologies in your industry.
A network can also provide you with professional mentors or contacts who could help you with any issues you need help with.
For example, if your company requires the services of an accountant, accountant, or lawyer, you can find the ideal candidate through your network.
If your business is in need of equity financing, you may be able to find an angel investor or venture capitalist through networking groups.
Networking is great for expanding your knowledge by tapping into the perspectives and past experiences of others.
For example, if you plan to export your product or service, you may be able to get valuable advice from someone else who has done similar business internationally.
15 Best Business Networking Groups to Belong to in 2021
Networking groups bring together like-minded people who hope to advance their business by cultivating new strategic relationships.
Not only can your network help you reach more potential customers, but it can also help you take your business to the next level as a small business owner or freelance professional.
But how do you build a professional network beyond your existing contacts?
Small business networking groups can bridge the gap by bringing together entrepreneurs who want to move their businesses forward.
Of course, not all network groups are the same, and not all groups are suitable for all small businesses.
Here are 15 of the best networking organizations for small business owners, both online and offline.
#1. BNI – Business Networking International
BNI is one of the world’s largest business networking groups.
Basically, they operate on the philosophy of givers gain. This means the more referrals you give to fellow members, the more referrals will be given back to you.
Your BNI Membership is designed to develop long-lasting relationships that deepen and evolve through their core value – Givers Gain®.
Each member of your referral network contributes to your success and you to theirs.
Your BNI Membership gives you access to mentors, other business professionals, And a whole host of courses through our proprietary learning center, BNI Business Builder, to help you build your skills and confidence.
In addition, you’ll have the power of a global support team to help you grow.
Now more than ever, building trusted relationships is critical to business success.
#2. Chamber of Commerce
Your local chamber of commerce is a great place to start.
These exist almost everywhere, so the chances of you having access to them are pretty good. There are a variety of chapters in different regions, towns, and villages.
Most cities have one, so you can start networking regardless of where you live or what other business networking groups may or may not be available.
The chamber of commerce is a more community-based networking group. The number of members ranges from a dozen members to tens of thousands.
Depending on the size of your venue, there will be many networking opportunities.
While every chamber of commerce is different, many offer small business networking events, mentoring opportunities, and other tools to help you grow your business.
The subscriptions are affordable and I am confident that you will get the net benefits they offer.
#3. Masterminds Networking Group
Getting involved in a mastermind group doesn’t limit you to just business-related matters.
The main goal here is to motivate, share varied perspectives, and help with available skills members have within the group.
In addition, MasterMind Groups bring people together around a common goal or set of shared goals, like a better business.
Also, MasterMind Groups allow you to tap into other perspectives, gain support in achieving your goals, and create a level of responsibility to take action to achieve them.
In a Mastermind group, they have the opportunity to brainstorm and get instant feedback and suggestions.
They can cultivate an inner camaraderie and hold each other accountable for setting and achieving goals.
You can find more information about Brains Group here.
LeTip is the oldest and most trusted business networking group in the world.
Lead generation and word-of-mouth advertising are where LeTip shows its strength.
This organization is about cultivating strong business relationships and providing ample networking opportunities.
The LeTip website also offers you a host of additional resources to peruse so you can get an idea of what this group is about.
Most importantly, LeTip reduces competition by inviting only one representative from each industry to the chapter.
Business tips are passed in a competition-free environment.
Show your worth and become part of a golden circle that generates leads.
#5. Rotary Club International
Rotary Club International is not a traditional group of contacts.
Instead, it is a global services organization focused on hyperlocal projects.
However, it tends to attract a lot of entrepreneurs who want to give back to their community, which can be a great place to meet like-minded small business owners.
The Rotary Club is not strictly a group of business contacts, it is more than that. The goal of this cooperative is to promote positive change in local communities while developing strong leadership skills.
Different chapters exist all over the world, so access shouldn’t be a problem.
Through Rotary, you will gain practical experience in changing local economies, as well as in personal growth as an active member of society.
Doing something for a good cause will bring you closer to other people who are motivated by a positive impact on the world.
In this way, great personal and professional relationships are born that will have a lasting impact on life and work.
If you prefer to build your own network while helping your community thrive, Rotary may be the right choice for you.
#6. Young Entrepreneurs Council
This business networking group is only for entrepreneurs and it’s strictly by invitation.
To qualify as a potential candidate in this group, you must meet certain criteria.
The Young Entrepreneurs Council gives you access to a wealth of resources that can help with business promotion and a quality list of potential candidates to network with.
You can access and communicate with thousands of YEC members, as well as view upcoming events through the mobile app.
It is one of the most exclusive business networking groups out there.
#7. American Marketing Association
The American Marketing Association is one of many business networking groups you may want to join.
You cannot run a successful business without the proper marketing approach.
Whether you work for a large marketing company or operate your own business, marketing will play a large role in your ability to be successful.
The American Marketing Association is there to introduce you to marketing prodigies and successful entrepreneurs.
There is no better way to learn than to interact with those who have risen to the top of your industry; that’s where AMA shines.
Establish new relationships with innovators and advocacy experts that will make you a marketer extraordinary.
The giant of virtual networks is LinkedIn. LinkedIn is an online business networking group.
It’s a social media platform like no other that is meant to connect budding professionals and industry veterans from around the world.
Recently, LinkedIn has become a great place to connect with other professionals online as it has over 600 million users, with 165 million users in the US alone.
While it was once a place to simply create a profile. Which could function more like a resume, LinkedIn has become a platform where many people are active every day.
You can connect with up to 30,000 other users, join groups, follow threads, send private messages, post articles, and much more.
You can also search for connections using a number of filters including job type, location, and industry.
Similar to other social platforms, there is a newsfeed where you can share content related to your business and interact with updates from others.
Once you have established a profile on the platform, you will be able to market your business, promote yourself and your skills, start professional relationships, or join specialized groups.
It’s a space where you can grow your network, establish authority in your industry, meet new people, and build meaningful relationships.
Signing up is free – you have nothing to lose, but a lot to gain.
#9. Facebook Groups
While you can generally use Facebook to check for updates from family and friends, you can use it as a business networking place.
If you use Facebook, you will know that more and more business-minded people are creating communities on the platform in the form of Facebook groups.
You can click the icon in the menu bar with three people in a circle to search for groups on Facebook in your industry, location, profession, etc.
Within these groups, there are usually daily messages and conversations related to the purpose of the group.
You can ask questions, give advice, find partners and even find work, although direct mail is often prohibited.
For example, the Small Business Networking Facebook group. it currently has more than 90,000 members, averages more than 1,500 posts per month, and aims to connect businesses, share knowledge, and grow together.
You can find more general and larger groups, as well as those that are very specialized and more intimate.
Also, you can search local, national, or global. Facebook groups can be a great place to meet new people and grow your network.
SCORE, the Service Corps of Retired Executives, has been a valuable resource for small businesses for more than half a century.
The organization is a resource partner of the US Small Business Administration (SBA) and offers free business training and advice.
You can connect with a mentor via the website (remotely or in-person). In the same manner, you can find small business networking opportunities, and participate in local workshops, live webinars, recorded webinars, and on-demand classes.
If you want to share your experience, you can also volunteer.
More than 10,000 trained volunteers to dedicate their time to SCORE and its members.
These volunteers help to run workshops, webinars, and one-on-one conferences that will make you much more competitive in the business environment.
SCORE tops the list of the most effective business networking groups.
#11. Women In Business Networking
If you are a female small business owner, you may want to join the Women Entrepreneurs community.
This international organization offers training workshops along with digital and face-to-face conventions designed to help women succeed.
The highly active community offers numerous networking opportunities to find referrals and gain valuable support as you build your business.
#12. Entrepreneurs’ Organization
Just as the name is, the Entrepreneur Organization is exactly a union of motivated entrepreneurs and motivated businesses working together to achieve greatness.
EO has attracted more than 12,000 successful businessmen and women from around the world to share ideas, promote collaboration and support each other.
EO organizes networking events, business conferences, and programs that are intended to help you develop as an entrepreneur.
You will need to apply if you want to join your local chapter.
Feel free to become a part of something great and in no time you will be able to reap the benefits it offers.
#13. Local Merchant Associations
Many cities have a development or merchant associations that focus on growing business districts in different neighborhoods or cities.
If you have a downtown store, your local downtown development association can be a great place to find local business networking opportunities.
Depending on your location and the nature of your business, you may even be able to join an existing event. For example, an art walk on Friday nights or a monthly farmers market sponsored by a local association.
Also, depending on where you live and what industry you are in, you may find a local business, merchant, or industry-related association in your community.
For example, if you are a general contractor, there may be a local association that focuses on your craft.
Many of these groups exist and host weekly or monthly seminars and participants often choose to go out for dinner or a drink afterward.
If you are looking for an easy way to grow your network without pressure from a few professional networking groups, your local professional association may be the place to start.
#14. Meetup Groups
Meetup.com is a massive platform for creating local community groups based on a shared interest.
There is an entire section of the site dedicated to small business networking, listing groups from around the world that meet for the sole or primary purpose of networking.
Each group is free to set its own agenda, hours, membership requirements, and other details. So you may need to try a few to find the one that looks best for you.
Your local Convention and Visitor’s Bureau is responsible for serving tourism. So if you don’t have a business that also caters to tourists, you may not be a member.
You can join them and stay active, for two reasons:
First, build local business relationships that can generate new business for you.
Secondly, an improved tourism industry means an improved local economy, which means more profit for you.
In a professional environment, it is essential that we surround ourselves with quality people who stimulate growth and development.
In this sense, a business networking group can help fill this gap.
Networked workgroups come in all shapes and sizes. They are there for you to use as a resource to help build strategic relationships.
I’ve compiled a list of the essentials of networking – an oasis of knowledgeable people who will set you up for success.
- invoiceberry.com – Networking Groups You Should Join to Grow Your Business
- nextinsurance.com – 9 best business networking groups for new businesses
- business2community.com – Top 10 Business Networking Groups You Should Join
- thebalancesmb.com – What Is Business Networking?