Joiner or LonerI’ve always thought of myself as a social person. In high school and college I joined everything. So of course if you should ask am I a joiner or a loner, I’d roar, “I’m a joiner!”

So, what happened between college and empty nest? I was so busy being super mom that joining took a back seat. All of a sudden, my circle of influence to build business – or build friendships – was nowhere to be found.

When life gets in the way, how do you re-join to support your what’s next journey? Narrowing the field of choices can help you find the groups that best suit your needs.

Ivan Misner, the king of business networking and founder of BNI, suggests that you choose from six types of business organizations in order to develop your business through networking.

  • Casual Contact Networks. These networking groups generally hold monthly meetings and include a large membership base with minimal restrictions for participation. Chambers of Commerce fall into this category, offering the opportunity for you to meet hundreds of business people in your city.
  • Strong Contact Networks. These groups often meet weekly with a structured agenda and often restrict membership to one member per profession. In Kansas City, BNI and Accelerent are industry exclusive referral groups.
  • Community Service Clubs. Community service groups such as Rotary, Kiwanis and Lions Clubs exist to serve the community; however they provide ample opportunity for developing valuable relationships that are the foundation for word-of-mouth-based business growth.
  • Professional Associations. Professional associations provide opportunities for business growth, thought leadership, skill development and staying current on industry trends. Depending upon your goals, choose an association within your industry or an association where your target clients are members. Check out some Kansas City professional associations here.
  • Social/Business Organizations. Often targeted to a specific population, groups that combine social activities with business networking – such as EnCorps45 – allow you to build friendships as well as business relationships.
  • Women’s Business Organizations. With the continued proliferation of women-owned businesses, women’s business organizations began in the late 1970s, shaping the nature of today’s networking.  Often structured and well-organized to provide professional support, many of these groups now allow men into their membership. Kansas City provides vast opportunity for education and professional development in women’s organizations such as Central Exchange and the National Association of Women’s Business Owners.

Which groups should you join? First remember, networking is not called “net-sit” or “net-eat.” If you want to build your business through word-of-mouth, you must put in “work” in order to “net” results. To get the most out of networking, be prepared and have a plan before each meeting.

  • Set goals.
  • Think about who you want to meet.
  • Know how you will answer the question: “What do you do?”
  • Be interesting and interested.
  • Once you’ve made a connection, follow up consistently the following day.
  • If you agree to provide something, be sure to do it.

In addition to the links provided within this article, check out these websites for other networking opportunities in Kansas City: KC Source Link, Experience KC and Sandler Training.