Networking is a great way to build relationships and develop leads for your business. At times, however, you may find that the last thing you want to do is attend another networking event. Worse still, your networking group has become stale and the quantity and quality of referrals is declining. If this is the case I have a few suggestions to help bring energy back to your group. 

A social, which also involves the families of your group’s members, is a great way to get to know one another better and spend time together without the added ‘pressure’ of referrals. In and around Springfield there are a number of venues that would suit a relaxed gathering. Sheedy Shores in New Berlin, for example, allows you to bring your own food, there are plenty of tables, a grassed area, and on Sundays, there is live music. An afternoon picnic at Southwind Park is another great spot as there’s plenty for kids to do and explore. 

A community project is another way to help bring the group together and develop relationships. You may want to prepare and serve a meal for those staying at the Ronald McDonald House in Springfield, for example.

Perhaps the start time of your regular meeting needs to change, or even the day. Do you need fresh blood in the group? What about setting aside meetings for guest visits. You could make this a monthly, bi-monthly, or quarterly activity. There could even be representatives from certain industries that you would like to add to the group. Sometimes it takes one or two members of the group meeting with a potential recruit, for coffee or lunch, to explain how your organization works and its benefits. It’s also worth revisiting your own contacts. Perhaps you’ve missed someone from your network that would fit right in and benefit other members – as well as themselves of course.

With many organizations, the leadership team can lose momentum if they have been in their respective positions for too long. If it’s time to shake things up to encourage those who have not taken on leadership roles in the past to do so.

Finally, is your group doing all that it can to get the word out about its members? Do you have a Facebook page or Instagram account that you can populate with members’ businesses and activities? If not then perhaps it’s time to engage in social media as well as meeting in person to share referrals and develop relationships. 

If you are interested in visiting a networking group, members of the Gem PR & Media team are involved in the following organizations and would be more than happy to provide further information.

Business Networking International 
Central Illinois Networking Group 
Illinois Women in Leadership 
Springfield Junior Chamber of Commerce (Springfield Jaycees)