Wanting to start a networking group but unsure where to start? In this portion from an interview between Dale Beaumont and Kim McGuinness find some priceless advice on starting your own networking group in a rural area.
Kim was a finalist in the Sydney Business Reviews Businesswoman of the Year Award in 2003 and was nominated for the Telstra Businesswoman of the Year in 2004, 2005 and 2006. She is the founder of Network Central.
What advice would you give to someone living in a rural area that would like to start their own networking group?
- Know your purpose – decide on the purpose for your network. Who is your target market? Why are you running it? Be clear on your reasons and articulate these in all material and advertising so that people know what to expect and why they should attend.
- Start small – find a venue that will take numbers as they arrive, like a restaurant, then advertise the date, either through a press release to the local paper or another medium. Find a speaker who is well known in the community and is willing to share their knowledge. Call the local paper and invite a journalist to attend at no charge.
- Listen to your network members – find out what each person attending that first event hopes to achieve by being a part of the network and listen intently to their answer. Capture the contact details of everyone attending and organise an even better follow-up event. Give guests an incentive to attend the next event with a friend and make them feel special as one of the inaugural network members.
- Find sponsors – to alleviate costs and help with promotions. Locate businesses that want to help the community and gain a presence for their brand through association with your event. Once you have a sponsor, stick to your agenda and be consistent in your product offering. Allowing your event or network to evolve in an organic way is fine, but don’t jump all over the place with different themes and goals. This is confusing for a sponsor that has specific objectives.
- Apart from all this – have FUN! A network is a place where people should feel comfortable and if you have fun and feel happy to be there, then so will your guests.
For more of this interview and how to start on networking groups check out “Secrets of Inspiring Women Exposed! “