The business world is now immersed in the age of Facebook and Twitter. I’m not saying there aren’t other social media sites out there, but these are the top two most used social networks in the world. However, using Facebook and Twitter can be difficult for B2B companies, who don’t really have a public to engage with directly. I often come across other consultants and CEOs who are on these networks, but say, “so what?”
The missing factor in these networks is the connection that can only come from a person-to-person meeting. That’s where Meetup.com comes in. Meetup has been around since 2001, but only really took off in the last 5 years when the site became more user friendly. The number of groups has now grown to 79,000. Whatever your industry or niche is, you can be sure there’s a Meetup for it in your area. And if there isn’t, or if you’ve tried it and found it hasn’t been of use to you, you can organize your own.
While there are a myriad of generic business Meetups in each city, I would definitely recommend trying out as many as you can instead of putting all your eggs (your time) in one basket (one Meetup). Just as with any networking group or business organization, it takes time to get to know the members and discover whether or not it’s a good fit for you.
If you like that aspect of networking but find you aren’t getting the clients or customers you want, try connecting online. And for god’s sake, complete your profile so people can contact you. The worst thing that can happen is if you meet someone who’s an ideal client and they forget a business card at the event, and don’t have their contact information listed on their profile. Diddo goes for you!
Meetup.com has an easy to use interface for event organizers, as well as calendars, forums, and message boards. Make sure to adjust your settings each time you join a new group, as you may end up on the alert list for news “as it comes” vs. once a day or week.
When it comes to building your network at a Meetup, remember your networking etiquette. It’s not about scattering your cards, but building valuable relationships. Happy meetings!
Sandra Garcia is the founder of Middle Child Marketing. She is an independent Publicist and Marketing Communications Consultant based out of Vancouver.