Thousands of new networking clubs have been started across the country, with many costing hundreds of dollars to join. But before you break your budget to join a club, consider starting your own. That's the advice of Anne Baber, co-author with Lynne Waymon of four networking books, including Smart Networking--How to Turn Contacts into Cash, Clients & Career Success (Kendall/Hunt Publishing Co., $18, 800-352-2939). "The best networking organizations are the ones you build yourself," Baber says.
Four years ago, Jenna Norwood, managing director of Norwood Public Relations Group in Washington, DC, co-founded a networking group for homebased entrepreneurs and telecommuters called HomeBase that has grown to include 350 members. If you want to start your own networking group, Norwood advises, "Decide who you want your members to be--executives or start-up entrepreneurs, for example--and in what industries. Then use the publications they read to reach them, including neighborhood and association newsletters, or even Internet newsgroups." To manage her hefty membership roster, Norwood uses broadcast e-mail, a fax machine and a voice-mail system to send monthly messages and reminders.
Take time to build relationships. "Like everything in life," says Baber, "the more help you give others, the more opportunities they'll send your way."
Anne Baber, 13433 W. 80th Terrace, Lenexa, KS 66215, (913) 894-4212
Norwood Public Relations Group, (202) 667-9663, http://www.norwoodpr.com