Networking is about word of mouth referrals and the growth of a group is primarily centred on the members inviting their contacts to visit, with the guests experiencing at first hand the advantages of membership and then signing up themselves.
Sometimes, a club manages to keep moving forward and generates all the extra members it needs through natural progression. Even when that happens though, it’s necessary to think about how to promote the group locally. National advertising and promotion through relevant channels are of course down to the organisation as a whole while local managers and club members need to do everything they can to enhance the image of their own groups.
There are obviously many ways to do this and one which is increasingly popular and successful (partly because it’s basically free) is to use social media channels. The clubs can have individual local Twitter accounts and / or Facebook pages and groups can be set up on Linked In. However, followers have to be reached and acquired and it’s worth making sure that members don’t lose sight of their own powerful ability to utilise their own accounts and established groups of ‘fans’, contacts and followers. Think of it this way; a tweet or post from the local club carries a strong message but one from an individual member to his or her captive audience is potentially even more powerful. It is also possible to message a significant and carefully chosen group of Linked In contacts.
It may also be worth individual members using ‘bios’ or ‘advertorials’ not only to further their own message to potential customers but also to highlight their membership of a networking organisation. A carefully – crafted script can be disseminated through a variety of online and offline channels.
More traditional methods to achieve the same ends include telemarketing and email marketing activity and all of these can bring dividends. The important thing is to make sure that everything is carefully thought out and not rushed into, especially bearing in mind that resources and funds for the purpose are likely to be limited.
By far the most important expansion method is still direct contact from the members. After all, if only half the members bring a guest, who goes on to join, think how large the club could grow and how quickly and how much everyone would benefit!