About three years ago, I decided to start a business to business networking group that I named Strategic Business Circle™. My purpose was to bring together a small group of women I thought would be good strategic partners and whose services would be beneficial to my client base. Three years into it, about half of us are original members and the other half has joined along the way. There is no cost to be in the group, but there are participation and attendance requirements. We meet monthly using a structured agenda and interchange all required roles; facilitator/presenter, time keeper, note taker, snack bringer. The Strategic Business Circle process has been incredibly valuable to every member, past and present. I want to tell you more so you can consider starting a group of your own.
For many women, networking is an essential component to business success. Being visible, credible, and well known for the service or product you offer helps create the foundation for business growth. Often, networking opportunities feel limited and it’s hard to find the right people to connect with. Sometimes you aren’t able to build the depth of relationship you are looking for. If this is your situation, consider creating a Strategic Business Circle. A Strategic Business Circle is a group of like-minded businesswomen who help one another achieve success. Getting the group off the ground may take some effort, but the payoff is worth it.
First, create a list of between six and ten colleagues who serve the same client base as you, but who, for the most part, offer different services. As a business consultant, my ideal strategic circle has members skilled in branding/marketing, social media, bookkeeping/accounting, administration, human resources, coaching, editing, web design, financial services, and time management/organization.
Another option is to bring together a group of women who perform similar services, such as bodyworkers, healthcare providers, energy and shamanic practitioners. In this case, you are networking with the intention of collaborating and building better businesses. Supporting one another with your diverse experience and points of view will benefit each business owner.
Either model will work, it just depends on what your needs are.
Once you have interest from a core group of women, bring them together for an introductory meeting. From there, determine your collective goals, decide how often you want to meet, and discuss how you can support one another in building your businesses and supporting your mutual clients.
You are looking for women who understand relational marketing, who know that building business through networking and establishing relationships takes time. The group should be made up of women who believe that collaboration is more compelling than competition. A minimum of a six-month commitment from each member is recommended as this will strengthen the group effort.
I am sharing the “Code of Conduct” we developed for our group in the hope that it will inspire you to take a next step. If you want to start a Strategic Business Circle in your community, please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org.