Even with the diverse group of business associations that are around and available, there is a chance that you still might not be able to find one that fits your business. As we mentioned in the previous blog posting, if there is not a trade association or closely related professional group for your business or product type, you should explore the opportunity of starting one on your own that fits a specific niche that may be untapped in your area of expertise. This does not mean you have to start a full blown professional association. It might just mean something as informal as a LinkedIn group. You may want to find a similar professional or trade association in another province or state that is looking to establish a local chapter of its organization.
Even with an informal group of people in your industry or a LinkedIn group, you can try to have a few seminars or conferences of your own. This type of informal group could grow into a more structured group as more people in your industry discover it and bring other people who have similar business interests (even those with a fringe interest who may have office space in the same business centre) into your group.
In order to start a business or association group, it is best to first determine the purpose of your business association and identify who your target members will be. Then you will want to talk to business acquaintances and friends who work in your industry to gauge the interest in your association. This is best done on a site like LinkedIn, even if your plans are for a more formal association. As you grow your trade or business association online, you can start to develop a database of the names and contact information of interested individuals, especially those who are local.
Before you start to develop workshop programs and event ideas for your business association – or determine meeting dates or the format of meetings – you will probably want to find a location for your first meeting or seminar to make sure that you have the right space for your live seminar or workshop.
There are several informal small business groups that rent the training/seminar rooms at our Toronto office space for the purpose of conducting meetings and seminars to help each other stay competitive against larger players in their industry. While some of these meetings are training or information sessions, others events that are held in our larger boardrooms and meeting rooms by outside clients are often networking events.