In order to build our businesses, it’s important to consider whether it makes sense for you to join a professional group. Examples of professional groups include:
- Your local Chamber of Commerce or Women’s Chamber of Commerce
- A doula association or birth network
- Your certifying organization such as DONA – some communities create local chapters of larger organizations
- Business groups that form to offer education and networking opportunities
How Can I Find A Professional Group?
Many professional groups can be found online through an internet search. Some groups may be in your local area, but others may have an online presence only. Some groups with a national or international presence may have chapters in various areas.
In addition to finding such organizations online, check with your colleagues and ask to see what groups they are involved with and like. Trade publications may also offer information about groups that may be of benefit to you.
What Should I Look For In A Group?
Here are some questions you can consider when looking for groups to join:
- Is there a fee to join?
- If there is a fee to join, may I attend my first meeting free or at a discounted rate?
- Can I afford the group’s fee?
- Will this group add me to a directory and offer me exposure online or in print? Who will have access to this directory?
- What is the goal for this group? Is it purely for networking mixers, or will there be educational opportunities to take advantage of?
- What kind of people join this group? Do they just want to pay to have their name in a directory and not participate in group activities?
- What will I gain by joining this group?
- Does the group put on conferences where you can learn more about business, your field, and meet new people?
All groups have a different dynamic and feel about it. If you attend a meeting or social event and you don’t like it at all, don’t give up! There may be another one out there that makes you feel right at home.
In addition, consider joining groups that don’t have anything to do about birth. Finding a group of woman business owners can be very valuable. You not only have a stronger referral group and potential clients, you will have an opportunity to connect with other business owners whose services you may be able to use.
In order to build connections and business referrals, professional groups are a great way to meet other like-minded people. If you are not participating in any groups, consider joining at least one in 2009 and see how it helps your business.