There is really no wrong way how to network effectively. Anytime you’re putting yourself out there and making contacts is good, but there are certain areas where you should be spending more of your networking energy.

Networking Group/Agency Association

A great way to start building your contacts list is by joining networking groups or agency associations. These groups are filled with like-minded individuals who are also trying to grow their business by cultivating new strategic relationships with other professionals.

Many associations are independently owned and require members to meet certain income requirements to join. Not only do they allow you to network, but they also help support the needs of owners, while giving you an avenue to collaborate with other members on projects and receive feedback from other professionals.

Joining a networking group or agency association is the quickest way to grow your business. Here are a few groups that I recommend:

Local Chamber of Commerce

Joining your local Chamber of Commerce is a great community-based networking opportunity. Your membership depends on the area where your business is located. Membership is very affordable and will give you access to business development events, guest speaker conferences, and other local events.

Masterminds Group

A local Masterminds Group will help you stay motivated while sharing business perspectives with other professionals in your area. It will allow you to develop strong relationships by helping other group members with their professional obstacles.

Business Networking International (BNI)

Business Networking International is a worldwide networking group that will connect you to the resources you need no matter your location. Membership is a bit more difficult to achieve, as only select individuals are invited to join and the fees are pricier. However, it is worth it, as there is much more personal interaction.

Young Entrepreneurs Council

This is another invitation-only networking group that requires members to meet certain criteria to be invited. It is one of the more exclusive groups, but gives members access to many resources to promote their business/service. It also has a mobile app where members can communicate with thousands of YEC members and view upcoming events.

Entrepreneurs Organization

This group is a syndicate of self-starters and motivated business people who meet and help each other achieve success. In this organization, you can share ideas, collaborate, and support other members. They also host networking events, business conferences, and offer other programs that can help you develop the skills you need to be a successful entrepreneur.

American Marketing Association

The AMA is perfect for marketing-specific networking. You can forge new relationships with marketing professionals and successful entrepreneurs, as well as innovators and promotional experts.

LinkedIn

Knowing how to network on LinkedIn is only slightly different than in-person networking events. It gives you the option to connect with professionals and industry veterans from all around the world. With over 450 million users, there are so many opportunities to connect and build professional relationships. You can join niche groups or connect on an individual level while promoting your own skills and services at the same time. You have to create a LinkedIn profile to participate, but membership is free.

Biznik

This social network comprises CEOs, freelances, and solopreneurs. It encourages users to share ideas with one another without too much self-promotion. It is mandatory for all users to use real name and supply real data so that all users get the most of the network. There are three levels of membership starting at $10/ month for basic to $24/month for supporting membership.

Entrepreneur Connect

Entrepreneur Connect helps you connect with other entrepreneurs. It’s the perfect way to share innovative ideas with other businesses and gain knowledge about how to improve your business.

Social Media

In addition to LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram are great platforms for networking. Facebook, in particular, is a great resource for forming niche specific groups where you can connect with contractors and develop partnerships.

In niche groups, you can ask questions, share industry news, and workshop ideas. Cereal Entrepreneur has our own public Facebook group where our members have helpful discussions regarding digital marketing and entrepreneurship. If you’re involved in web development, SEO, copywriting, and more, there are groups out there that you can join.  

Social media groups are a great way to build trust within your niche. By engaging with content and commenting on others’ posts, you are getting your business’s name out there and helping others find you—this generates inbound networking.

Referral Network

While it’s important to connect with people who are in the same or similar position as you, it’s also good to network with people that are peripherally involved in your industry. Partnering with service-specific agencies could lead to a great opportunity to build a lead generating referral system.

Building a relationship with these agencies, such as SEO-specific or ad-specific agencies, can help you generate business. When a customer inquires about a service that they do not provide, your agency is top of mind. Search for agencies in your area and cultivate a relationship that can be beneficial to both of you.  

One of the keys to becoming a successful entrepreneur is realizing that you can’t do everything on your own. By networking with other small businesses, agency owners, industry leaders, and business professionals, you will find people to consult with on projects, get feedback on work, and hear from those who understand the day-to-day frustrations, challenges, and support needed to grow and be more successful.

For more information on how to start and grow your own social media marketing agency, enroll in our online Digital Marketing School course today!