If you are a business owner, you know how important it is to keep a large network. This network serves two vital functions. First, it allows you to spread the word to others about your business, what you do, and who you are. But if you are just out there to drum up clients, networking is not going to do you much good. The second, and more important, function is meeting other business owners in various industries. You want to know exactly where to turn any time a problem or obstacle arises in your business, and you want to know the best of the best so that when your clients have needs you can send business to those in your network. Here is a list of the top five Billings business organizations where you can start to meet people like yourself.
Chamber of Commerce
The Chamber of Commerce is the first place that you will want to get started with your network. By becoming a member of the Chamber, you not only help to spread your name among other business owners, but also throughout the community. The Chamber also hosts many events throughout the year that as a member you will have access to. By getting your name known at the Chamber, you will be on their mind so when someone calls looking for someone in your industry, your name will come up. Chamber membership does come with a price tag though. Annual memberships start at $320 and go up to $12,000 depending on the benefits that you desire. For a new business the most basic package will be a great way to get yourself established as a professional in the area..
Downtown Business Association
The Downtown Business Association is actually a private organization that is dedicated to making the downtown area of Billings a safer, cleaner, and more fun place to be. And you have most likely seen their handiwork. Almost any activity downtown, such as Alive After 5, Harvest Fest, or Christmas Strolls are sponsored by the DBA. Now if you are not located downtown it might not best suit your needs to be part of the DBA, but for those businesses that do domicile downtown, this is a great group to look into partnering with. The cost is $150 for your first year, and then it is tiered based on the number of employees that you have (with a discount given to non-profits). It’s a very cheap investment into your business growth.
Big Sky Economic Development
Much like the other organizations, the Big Sky EDA is all about growing the vibrant business community in and around Billings. Unlike some of the other organizations, the BSEDA is focused on helping businesses grow and prosper at a more fundamental level. They have services about how to find grants, get funding, tax incentives, and overall how to prosper. Part of the Big Sky Economic Development is the Small Business Development Council that is focused all on the starting of new small businesses in the area.
When you think of networking clubs or organizations, you probably think of Rotary. Rotary clubs are nationwide, and they are looked upon as the crème de la crème of business groups. That is because it is usually the highly successful business people that end up joining rotary. There are numerous rotary clubs throughout Montana, and Billings itself has a couple different meeting places depending on where you are located. The caveat to joining is that you can’t just show up at a Rotary meeting. You have to be invited. Once you become a member, there are dues involved.
Individual Industry Specific Organizations
There are so many smaller organizations that it would take forever to list them all. Depending on your industry, there is bound to be an industry specific organization that you can take part in and get to know people. Some of these organizations have dues, others are free to join. But if you want to be a respected member of your industry, it is important that you get to know your competitors and make friends with them.
Networking is important to any business in order to let the community know who you are. And while social networking helps, it should not be your only form of networking. Getting started with some of these organizations will really help boost your business and help you become a trusted business in the community. While there are costs associated with joining many of them, this should not be looked at as an expense. Rather, it should be viewed as an investment in your business to help it grow and flourish.
Which organizations are you a part of? How have they helped your business?