As a brand new company in 2012, I have set monthly goals for myself. January was my month to find a vehicle to network and get my name out there in the community. As one of my peers said to me “No one can hire you, if they don’t know you are out there”. So I figured if other businesses knew about “Traveling Kidd” that would be half the battle.
So I spent the first half of February researching networking groups like BNI International and my local Chamber of Commerce. I also looked into smaller groups via Meetup.com. I narrowed it down to the following two:
BNI International – Based on feedback from my peers in the industry and other small businesses, BNI seems to be the solution that will yield the best results. In my area alone there are 4 chapters. BNI’s formula is simple; members meet once a week for approximately 90 minutes and attendance is mandatory. If you cannot attend you must send a representative. Only one person from each industry is accepted into each chapter. What are the benefits? My top three are exposure to other business professionals, help in sharpening your presentation skills, and the ability to learn to effectively talk about your business. The cons? For me it was the weekly commitment during business hours. As a one woman show it just isn’t feasible at this time.
Chamber of Commerce – Based on feedback from other travel agents throughout the country, Chambers of Commerce have only been beneficial to those that have very active Chambers. The Chamber in my area is not only very active; but also very involved in the community. It offers a wide range of networking events and the programs offered to the members are focused on continued growth and development for your business.
With the start of February I knew I needed to make a decision and was leaning more towards the Chamber of Commerce. I also toyed with the idea of forming my own networking group. While investigating the Facebook page of a local township (I am in the process of building a home), I came upon a post from a local business owner, looking for members to join a newly formed networking group. The model will be similar to BNI where one person from each professional specialty will be accepted into the group. But where it will differ is the meetings will be monthly and not during business hours. And, since there were no travel agents represented, I was the one. It’s funny how things work out.
I am optimistic and very hopeful about my networking opportunities for 2012 and am very glad this was a goal I tackled early on.
I am interested in your networking solutions. Are you a member of BNI, a Chamber of Commerce or a local networking group? Has it proved to be beneficial for your business?
Tracy Kidd is the owner and agent of The Traveling Kidd in Central New Jersey. She specializes in planning travel for couples, friend getaways, and groups. She is a member of NACTA and entered the industry in 2010. Yo can contact Tracy at www.travelingkidd.com or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org