A black business network can help to make a business successful. Many times, more than marketing or public relations campaigns, industry networking is what leads to new customers or clients. Setting up a black business network for a particular industry, however, requires both short-term and long-term planning.
The foremost concern when establishing an industry networking group is that it complies with legal requirements. If, for example, you intend to collect money to fund your group, you might need to establish it as a non-profit organization with your secretary of state. Paperwork pertaining to the status of your black business network can be changed in the future, if necessary, but failing to establish your networking group formally could result in it later being fined by the state or its name and concept being stolen by another individual.
The key aspects of an industry networking group is its accessibility and relevancy to industry leaders and entrepreneurs. Prior to launching a black business network, identify where the majority of companies in the industry are located. Narrowing your focus to a particular area will assist you in advertising the group and in scheduling and choosing a venue for your meeting.
A common mistake when establishing a black business network is opening the group to others prior to the first meeting. While you might think industry networking will be easier and garner more interest if more people are involved, this can delay the planning and execution of the group. The number of ideas and plans for the group will increase with the higher the number of involved persons. Therefore, define, create and host the group’s first meeting by yourself. Subsequently, you can invite others to participate and possibly even create offices for others to hold within the group.
To draw interest, the first meeting of your black business network should be exciting. Arrange a guest speaker that is known as a leader of the industry. While you cannot dictate the guest’s speech, you can politely ask that it relate to a major topic or a current issue in the industry.
Your next focus should be meeting attendance, which may require you to advertise. Properly advertising your black business network may require you to create pamphlets or fliers. Your method of advertising should be simple, direct and in a form most likely to gain attention. If, for example, workers in your industry receive 15 fliers a day, you might want to send a pamphlet or email about the group to prevent your flier from being thrown in the trash without a second thought.
Another important aspect of your black business network that you might overlook is to leave time during the first meeting for people to mingle and meet each other. In their excitement about a speaker or the meeting venue, organizers of industry networking groups often forget the member’s main purpose for joining: networking. Make sure, therefore, no matter what else you have planned, you leave ample time for this purpose.