As any business networking groups will boast, they offer one of the biggest favors any entrepreneur or business owner can do for themselves. The benefits of joining business networking groups include the chance to learn from experts, to be part of a support community of like-minded peers, to forge partnerships, and — especially if you’re a B2B business — find leads.
Traditionally, these business networking groups have involved face-to-face, mandatory monthly meetings through your local chamber of commerce, rotary club or local network chapter. But the nature of business has changed; namely, it has moved online.
Today’s entrepreneur or business owner spends much of his or her time interacting virtually with clients, partners, employees and customers — not just locally or regionally — but globally.
Although most business networking groups have remained in the realm of in-person meetings, there are some that have modernized and moved their networks to meet the people where they are — online.
Online business networking groups
If you’re looking for a good business networking group, but don’t have the time to meet in person, here’s a list of great online groups to start making connections.
Young Entrepreneurs’ Council (YEC).
Small Giants Virtual Peer Groups.
Young Presidents’ Organization (YPO).
Not sure which one is the best fit for you? Keep reading for more details so you can network with confidence.
1. Young Entrepreneurs’ Council (YEC)
Young Entrepreneurs’ Council is vastly different from other business networking groups of the same caliber and design. It offers all of the support, benefits and networking opportunities of traditional organizations, but unlike traditional business networking groups, YEC focuses its interaction online and does not require mandatory meetings of any kind. YEC is at the disposal of its members to be employed how and when they wish.
Members of YEC have access to:
- 24/7 peer support forums
- Members-only web and mobile dashboards
- Trusted, vetted peer community
- Opportunities to contribute expert content
- Educational resources
- Marketplace with volume discounts
- Hotel, car rental and travel discounts
Keep in mind that this group is invitation only and highly selective. To qualify, you must:
- Be 40 years of age or younger
- Be a founder, or co-founder of a business that…
- Generates a minimum of $1M in revenue, or…
- Have a minimum of $1M in financing
- And, your business has an office or headquarters located in North America
YEC is invitation only and charges a membership fee. However, they do not publicly state how much membership fees cost.
2. Small Giants Virtual Peer Groups
Small Giants Virtual Peer Groups takes the traditional business networking group model of peer-to-peer, monthly meetings, but with a modern spin: the monthly meetings take place online. As mentioned on the Small Giants website:
“The goal of the Small Giants Virtual Groups is to bring together values-driven leaders to cultivate authentic business groups that provide a space for mentorship, shared resources, and connections needed to support and develop themselves and their businesses.”
All of this can be done from the comfort of one’s home or office. Members of the Small Giants Virtual Groups can:
- Enjoy 90-minute monthly meetings with like-minded, values-driven leaders facilitated by Small Giants Community Founder, Paul Spiegelman
- Participate in carefully curated content, discussion topics, practitioner-based stories and resources that will help further you along in your business and challenges
- Build strong relationships with a community of fellow Small Giants Leaders across the country
- Gain access to national Small Giants Community content, updates and Spotlight event invitations with special discounts
- Enjoy a personal login to SmallGiants.org to explore past-recorded events and dive into the membership directory
There are no qualifications to join the group, but each virtual group is capped at 10 people. Membership fees are due per person annually.
3. Young Presidents’ Organization (YPO)
The Young Presidents’ Organization is a business networking group for chief executives. Unlike many business networking groups, YPO does not require members to meet in person on a monthly basis. Instead, the group facilitates peer-to-peer interaction globally among its 25,000 members at their own discretion.
Members have the opportunity to join local or regional chapters, communicate in-person or virtually, and join global networks of like-minded chief executives who want to put their heads together for business, personal and social impact endeavors.
YPO’s membership requirements are a bit complex, but here’s the basic rundown:
- YPO membership is intended to be available to individuals who hold the top position of a qualifying company or division
- A new application must be approved by YPO before the applicant reaches his or her 45th birthday
- Must be a chief executive of incorporated or limited business entities, partnerships and other forms of business organizations deemed, at the discretion of YPO’s Executive Committee, to be substantially equivalent to businesses incorporated under the laws of the appropriate legal jurisdiction
- In addition to age and title, an applicant must be qualified by rules of corporate complexity established by the YPO Board
You can read more about YPO’s membership requirements here. YPO does not list membership fees.
StartupNation takes more of a forum-style approach to online business networking groups. On their site, you can find articles on how to start a business how to grow a business, and how to manage a business. But the most important aspect of StartupNation regarding online networking are the abundant forums.
Forums are organized by:
- Startup business basics
- Gig economy
- Marketing, sales, and public relations
- Personal growth
- Finance and funding
- Doing business on the web
- Like-minded people
- Business operations
- Inventing and intellectual property
- Managing your business
There are also subcategories within each section. On StartupNation’s online forums, business owners and entrepreneurs have access to other professionals and experts in the field for advice and networking opportunities.
StartupNation is free and has no requirements to join.
Ryze is a social networking site created mainly for business networking. Once registered, members receive their own networking-oriented homepage and can connect with other members by messaging them. They also have the opportunity to join networks within the site based on interests, industry or location.
Ryze is free and has no requirements to join.
Opportunity is an online business networking group that tweaks the status quo in one interesting way: they use an algorithm to match you with other professionals who can provide employment, sales and networking opportunities. It’s almost like online dating for businesses. Currently, Opportunity boasts one billion opportunities discovered, and 85 million professionals connected and referred.
Opportunity is free and has no requirements to join.
Closing thoughts on business networking groups
Whether you’re a burgeoning entrepreneur who’s looking for advice on how to get up and running, or you’re an established business owner who’s looking for leads, networking is a great way to get it done. And now it’s even easier with business networking groups catering to our online professional lives.