These five organizations for business networking work well for small-and-medium sized business (SMB) owners in Dallas. I discovered them by weeding through several other groups over the last three years of living here. I have personally attended functions hosted by each one listed. In my opinion, they pass the test. So you have a well-rounded perspective I give at least one positive and negative about each group.
Some are niche groups related to marketing and advertising, while the others work for any profession. There are many more groups as well as charity-focused societies in Dallas including other popular ones I have heard of (Dallas Margarita Society, Sterling Society), but I can not vouch for them yet. Coincidentally I may be joining the invite-only Dallas Margarita Society soon, and will then will be able to report. There are also many socially focused groups. I plan on posting a list of my favorite ones in the future.
Sometimes business networking groups can get a bad name. At groups strictly devoted to gaining business referrals you’ll find a lot of hard selling start ups, MLM recruiters, and “life couches.” Some meet once or twice a week in the middle of the day, when if their businesses were booming they would not have time to do.
I refer to these groups below as “organizations for networking” not networking groups because these groups are not strictly devoted to gaining referrals, but exist for many other reasons: charity work, good will, corporate citizenship, industry learning, and personal development. Business development and networking are the tertiary benefits. Whether you are looking for a job, seeking clients/vendors, or just want to build your business connections for a rainy day I recommend checking these out.
Five Fantastic Dallas Organizations for Networking
- Greater Dallas Chamber of Commerce
- Young Professionals of Greater Dallas
- DFW Interactive Marketing Association
- Dallas Junior Chamber of Commerce
I found this group after researching several other Dallas Chambers and was sold after a representative came out and spoke with me.
Positive: The largest chamber of the half a dozen other Dallas chambers. Lots of established businesses with money and top level people/decision makers attending.
Negative: It’s expensive to join. The lowest level was $700 three years ago when I paid for it for the company I was working for at the time. You could ride the low cost “prospective member events” without paying for the membership for years if so inclined, but to receive their “member benefits” you have to join. It is what you make of it.
Attended: One new members introduction meeting & obtained five business leads, before learning about a division of the Greater Chamber second on the list.
I found this group soon after joining the Greater Chamber, but never officially joined.
Benefit: Lots of young people in varying professional jobs. They may be young, but they are serious about connecting and making things happen, they do not just engage in the social aspect in which many orgs labeled with “young” do.
It was relatively inexpensive to join ($125 at the time), with at least 12 events a year.
Negative: It’s not a large group and business value could dry up fast if you have a niche business, but the social aspect will not.
Attended: Three after hours networking functions 2005 – 2006
Positive: Some of the most friendly people from a wide variety of companies who are not the “usual networking type, ” but decided to come because of the free food and Netparty’s smart at opt-in email list marketing. Typically 300-400 show throughout the night. Someone very ambitious could make a lot of local connections in a short period of time by just attending once.
Negative: Only occurs once a quarter.
Attended: Three after hours networking functions (all they have had) 2007 – 2008, have received over a dozen new contacts and three to four potential business clients.
This is an amazing group niche focused toward Interactive Marketers and professionals working in businesses and non-profit orgs with interactive divisions.
Positive:Great for learning and making connections within the industry. They have monthly high content, no sales pitch, seminars in Las Colinas with big name leaders in the industry.
Negative:In general, everyone is in the same industry, so it has less new client potential.
Attended: Three after hours “prospective member” networking functions 2007 – 2008, with coworkers have received a few leads an job candidates.
Similar to the Greater Chamber, but is in no way affiliated, this non-profit group caters to young professionals in the 21 – 39 age range.
Positive: Lots of leadership opportunities such as being on the board, sub committees, and event planning groups. They have at least three events a month, if not more.
Negative: In general, even harder to find potential clients because of the social focus. There seems to be almost too many meetings, for meetings sake.
Attended: Dozens of after hours networking functions 2005 – 2008 with many friends and acquaintances made.