TIPS & TOOLS
10 Steps To Start Your Own Networking Group
Diane, I have been thinking about starting my own local networking group. How do I get started?
Maybe you are like this young woman and you have a desire to begin a local women’s business/networking group like I did when I moved from San Antonio, TX, to Wichita Falls, TX – but you are scared stiff! But why not you? Just step out in faith and do it, like I did with 2 or 3 other women. God will help you. It will change, evolve, and grow until you are ready to hand the baton over to someone else when it’s time, as I did to Desirae Shawn.
Ready to get started? Here are 10 steps to help you begin:
- Gather together two or more women. That’s all you need to start! You don’t need 30 women to begin the group. Get together with other women entrepreneurs or maybe someone in sales for a planning session. This will just be a conversation where you are discussing ideas. You will need support to step out and do this. It can be a Christian group or not, whatever you want it to be. See what they think and brainstorm together.
- Decide on a format. Do you want a weekly or a monthly meeting? Will there be dues or fees? Where will the location be? Will you have a speaker each week? You will be the facilitator so much of the responsibility falls on you. I encourage you to try to stay at one location, perhaps a local woman’s business to help her.
- Invite others. Send out emails, postcards, use social media. Invite a friend and have your friends invite others.
- Continue to invite others up until the date of the event. Create a Faceboook event to invite your online friends. Contact your local newspaper for a write-up. People forget things easily so keep reminding them of this exciting new meeting.
- Have the event. Make everyone feel welcome. Know your format before the first meeting. It may be just the three of you, very casual. As you grow, you will have more of a formal format. Have a sign-in sheet for emails, a way to contact those who come for you to stay in touch with them.
- Do a welcome, then have a speaker share for about 20 minutes. Use your networking skills to invite others, and have a variety of speakers and topics. You don’t want the same speaker each week. Tap into the gifts and talents of the people in your community. Keep it fresh, inspiring, motivating.
- Take photos (of course!). Post the pictures on Facebook. Depending on how large your town is, you might email in a photo to the local newsppaer and let them know what is going on here! In our town, we had a section called “Faces and Places.” Go to Meetup.com and post about your event there.
- Create a Facebook group. This is where you’ll post updates, announcements, etc., in an open group in between your meetings, Share about the events, post about a party. Use this for conversation.
- Allow the group to grow, expand, evolve. If 30 NACWE women began a local networking, each group would look different. The group changes through the year. Let it become what God wants. It’s not your group, but our group. Take a consensus and share ideas. Simplify – have a buffet. Find out what the women want and need for this group.
- Train/mentor. I passed the baton to Desirae Shawn and now after a year or so, she is passing it, too. It’s time to pass things to someone else. “Rinse and repeat.” Do this over and over. I could go to any town and start a new networking group or start a virtual networking group, like NACWE or the Act Fast Now group. You can, too.
It’s not overwhelming. You just take one step at a time, and get the message out about your business.
January or February is a great time to start a group. Don’t be afraid. Reach out for help to me, Desirae, or others.
Go ahead and get started with your own local networking group. I’ll be looking for your Facebook pics soon!