Grow Your Small Business by Attending Networking Events


It is very important to get the word out when you start a new business. One way is advertising. A second way to grow your small business, that can be more fun and less expensive, is by attending networking events. The type of networking I am talking about is face to face, in person networking events.

Networking is about making good connections and building new relationships with other business people.

Weekly Group Meetings

One of the most effective types of networking events that you can attend are the ones that are well organized and meet on a weekly basis. These groups typically consist of anywhere from 8 to 30 people. The people who attend these meetings are business individuals, like you, that want to talk about business and socialize.

Meeting on a regular basis helps you to quickly get to know other people.

Some groups meet for breakfast or lunch, others meet for dinner and an evening out.

In these groups you will meet fascinating people from many different types of businesses. Businesses that you may never even have thought of. You will learn about their business, and you will have an opportunity to share things about your own business.

Referrals for New Business

When you attend small business networking events try to get to know people that may share the same clientele as you. You might be able to form an alliance with them and refer clients back and forth.

As you get to know other members of your group you may also find that you know people who need the products or services of one of the people in your group and you can pass on referrals for them.

For example, there may be a lawyer in your group that specializes in real estate. If you have a friend or relative that is selling their home and will need a lawyer, you could pass on a referral for the lawyer in your group.

In return, as people get to know you better, they will do the same.

Referrals are a great way to grow your small business because people typically trust a business that was referred to them versus a business that they find online or in the phone book.

When I owned my own small business quite a few of my clients were referrals that I received from other members of the networking group that I attended each week.

Keep in mind that each networking group usually has a membership fee. Check out and compare those costs when deciding which group to join.

One of the largest networking organizations is BNI.

BNI is an International Networking Organization with Chapters (groups) meeting all over the world.

Depending on where you live you may also find other local networking organizations that you could join. You can do an online search as well as check your local newspapers.

Meeting Tips

Dress to Impress

networking eventsAppropriate dress for most groups is business casual. You want to make a great impression every time you meet with other people. Remember that they are deciding whether they will tell others about you.

Be On Your Game

Greet everyone you speak to with a positive and friendly attitude. If there is an opportunity to walk around and mingle take advantage of it. Ask people questions about their business before you introduce your own.


Networking meetings usually include some sort of presentations.

The Leader of the group may do a presentation and then the members may have an opportunity to stand up and give a quick 30 second infomercial about their business.

Be courteous and do your best to focus on the person speaking. They may be nervous in front of a crowd and if they see that people are not paying attention they may loss their motivation and train of thought.

Exchange Business Cards

Some groups have a set process for exchanging business cards. Others don’t.

If the group you attend does not have a process then a good rule of thumb is to try to meet at least 5 other people and exchange cards. With 5 people you have a better chance of remembering who they were and what they said. If you try to meet everyone in the meeting in one session you may not remember too many.


If you have a genuine interest in the people you met then make sure to follow-up with them the next day.

Send each person a personalized email or phone them. Perhaps you can setup a lunch date to get to know each other better and share business ideas.

Go out and have fun at networking events, and make great connections.


    • John S @ Frugal Rules

      John S @ Frugal Rules 01/14/2013 7:03 a.m. #

      These are some great tips Sicorra! We do this ourselves as a part of running our business, in fact we need to find time to do more of it. Networking and getting new client is a vital part to the overall health of a small business.

      • Tackling Our Debt

        Tackling Our Debt 01/14/2013 3:01 p.m. #

        It is a good way to keep the pipeline full instead of having good months and bad months. I use to love going to my weekly meeting.

    • Edgar @ Degrees and Debt

      Edgar @ Degrees and Debt 01/14/2013 9:57 a.m. #

      Networking is huge! I am a REALTOR as a side income stream and that is a business where networking is a must. I use an app by LinkedIn called CardMunch at all events. The app lets you take a snapshot of the person business card and it will extract the data, add it to your phone book and invite you to connect on LinkedIn all automatically. This is a lifesaver as you don't have to carry and organize business cards nor do you have to then go back and manually type each persons info into your digital address book.

      • Sicorra

        Sicorra 01/14/2013 3:06 p.m. #

        I have never heard of that app, but it sounds so cool. What a timesaver and a great way to instantly connect on LinkedIn if you choose to. I remember coming home with piles of business cards. But now people will not have to pay to print as many because you can just take a snapshot of it and give it back to them. Love it!!

    • Grayson @ Debt Roundup

      Grayson @ Debt Roundup 01/14/2013 9:58 a.m. #

      I think many business owners overlook networking because they "don't have time", but it is essential. I have scored many large contracts through networking.

      • Sicorra

        Sicorra 01/14/2013 3:08 p.m. #

        Yes, me too Grayson! Actually my best business has happened through networking weekly.

    • DC @ Young Adult Money

      DC @ Young Adult Money 01/14/2013 12:05 p.m. #

      I work for a large corporation so my situation is a bit different, but referrals are important for SO many things. If someone refers me to a small business or contractor, I am MUCH MUCH MUCH more likely to use them vs. some other company I found online.

      • Sicorra

        Sicorra 01/14/2013 3:10 p.m. #

        Exactly! And word of mouth\referral is really the best marketing a small business can have, because as you said, you tend to go with that referral instead of shopping around.

    • Pauline

      Pauline 01/14/2013 12:18 p.m. #

      Great tips. I write on the back of people's card a small reminder to know who they are a few weeks later. Physical detail, a conversation starter, anything that struck me about them, it helps a lot.

      • Sicorra

        Sicorra 01/14/2013 3:11 p.m. #

        Very good point! And that is what makes you stand out at future events, is that you remember people and things about them. It speeds up the relationship building process, which is so important.

    • Corina Ramos

      Corina Ramos 01/14/2013 1:24 p.m. #

      This is a great idea Sicorra!

      I never thought about this approach, and that's why I love reading your post because you share great information and I great meeting tips. A great reminder that networking in person is different than online.

      Hope you're enjoying your day.

      • Sicorra

        Sicorra 01/14/2013 3:12 p.m. #

        It is different in person for sure. And it can be a great way to make new friends in your city too.

    • krantcents

      krantcents 01/14/2013 2:23 p.m. #

      When I had a business, I frequently attended networking meetings. I was a member of the local chamber of commerce and did various promotions with local universities/colleges, schools and employers.

      • Sicorra

        Sicorra 01/14/2013 3:14 p.m. #

        Yes, the chamber of commerce. I forgot to mention that. Very important place to go when you own a business.

    • Money Bulldog

      Money Bulldog 01/14/2013 6:19 p.m. #

      I used to attend these events when I was working in mortgages. Always early morning events but I guess the early bird catches the worm. Good tips here Sicorra!

      • Sicorra

        Sicorra 01/14/2013 8:09 p.m. #

        Oh yes I remember the ones that started at 7AM. That was difficult for me. I preferred the lunch time ones.

    • KK @ Student Debt Survivor

      KK @ Student Debt Survivor 01/14/2013 7:57 p.m. #

      I have to admit I've never been much of a networker. It's something that I'm learning to do, but it's not something that really comes naturally (especially selling myself). Great tips.

      • Sicorra

        Sicorra 01/14/2013 8:10 p.m. #

        No, it wasn't natural for me either. I was fortunate that the people at the very first event I attended were quite friendly and very welcoming.

    • Kim@Eyesonthedollar

      Kim@Eyesonthedollar 01/14/2013 9:47 p.m. #

      I was in BNI for about a year and a half until my schedule conflicted with their meeting time. I made lots of great contacts and learned how to summarize what I do in a minute speech. If you can't define what you do and what you are looking for in your business, you need to work on it.

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