It is quite easy to overlook networking in this fast-paced world of running a business be it traditional ones, an agency or even a freelance business. It is all too easy to just focus on acquiring customers or just solving internal problems. Most people find it difficult to even pick their heads up and think beyond just their inbox. 

However, if you ask people who have made it big in business, they will all synonymously agree to the fact that the greatest insight and opportunities can emerge from doing just that. Just by stepping out of the part you play in running your business and looking at the wider picture, you can get a broader perspective. The best way to do so is by stepping out of the office for a short duration and joining a community of peers.

Throughout the known history of humans, communities have played a crucial part in the social and economic growth. Even explorers who have traversed unchartered territories have relied upon communities of like-minded people for survival. Although things are not that severe now as they had once been, it is still essential for business proprietors to be part of communities to ensure the survival and growth of their business. 

There are various communities ranging from professional, religious, academic to athletic and so on. These communities enable an individual to build and expand their social network, create a reputation and engage in new opportunities. These benefits will extend over to your business as well. 

By integrating ‘community’ as an essential part of the growth strategy, your business will find opportunities to establish thought leadership, increased referrals and gain key insight on business challenges and how to overcome them

Here are a few kinds of communities that can aid business growth,

Professional Development Organizations

These are the classic business communities like the Toastmasters, which is an extremely popular public speaking community. These kinds of communities are geared towards skill development that can enable the member to use them in advancing their professional career. These communities have like-minded people attending them alongside so it is easy to build a lasting and fruitful relationship with them. 

Professional Networking Organizations

These are the traditional mixers that some people either love or hate, based on their inclinations and views on networking. One such organization that falls under this category is BNI and San Diego referrals club. BNI is focused one getting referrals for businesses from other compatible businesses within the area. This makes them highly regional and perfect for those who only need referral marketing

Industry Association

If you are someone who likes to stay on top of all the industry trends/opportunities within your industry then this the perfect solution for you. These communities often come with a membership structure which involves qualifications and dues. On the flipside, these kinds of communities are often known to offer discounts on certain commonly used services like hosting events or other similar services.

Meetups

These are organic communities created and led by independent organizers that do it just out of their passion for a particular topic. These are also limited to certain locations and don’t extend across the nation. Shopify Meetup series is a good example of such a community. 

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