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How to find a Business Networking Meeting

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As a business owner or as the person responsible for business development you may be interested to attend some business networking meetings. But how do you find what is out there and decide which one do you choose?
What you'll need: 
A computer with internet access
Search online for business networking meetings in your area. There are some national networking organisations that will list meetings in your area. Most networking meetings are listed on the 'Find Networking Events' website.
Different networking organisations vary in cost, style and how frequently they meet. Some meet every week and require regular attendance. For others you are free to attend - and pay for - only those which you wish to.
Most groups allow you to go at least twice as a 'guest' before you make any financial commitment. It is advisable to try out several groups in the area before committing to one or two.
Ask other people what they see as the benefits and drawbacks of the meetings they attend.
Many networking groups are 'breakfast' meetings starting as early as 7am. You need to be an early morning person to commit to regular meetings at this time.
Check out how long members have been coming to the group. If there are many who have attended for years this is clearly a good sign it is working for them.
Some networking groups only have one person from each profession so it is wise to find out if there is already someone from your business type attending. If there is check how closely they resemble what you do as some groups may employ e.g. more than one accountant if one is a tax specialist and another specialises in charities.
Find out the costs. Some groups can cost £100s in membership fees plus the cost of a cooked breakfast every week. For some this is a worthwhile investment, for others it may become an unproductive expense.
Some groups require you to send someone in your place if you are unable to attend. This can be a great advantage if there is someone in your company who can go instead of you since you have a presence without actually being there. For others this may be a burden.
Social media sometimes arranges meetings locally. For example on Twitter people arrange '#tweetups'. Linkedin and ecademy have local groups which meet. Search on the websites or contact some local business people through the websites. These are often much more informal than many networking meetings.
There is a lot to consider in deciding which organisations to join that will work best for you and your business. Take time to research what is available and check costs and rules of attendance. Business networking can be highly successful and enjoyable. Please share your experiences in the comments box below.
Try out several groups to avoid costly mistakes
Ask as many business people as you can what their views are on local groups.
Work out how much you can afford to spend on networking, and stick to it.
Don't expect instant results from networking meetings.


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