Networking always seems to cost money and for some people networking on a tight budget they feel their options are quite limited.
This is why the Zurich Networking Group tries to balance events to benefit free Associate and low cost annual Supporter memberships.
We understand not everyone wants to attend every social or networking night event. Some people have less resources than others and a good number just want to develop their local contact base their own way.
Paying for events, the travel or the follow-up of one-on-one meetings can be a little daunting for anyone on a tight budget.
The good news is that there are plenty of ways the Zurich Networking Group and others can facilitate those wanting to develop their network and to make new connections.
All we ask is for you to be a little creative as we cover a few ideas to get you started.
Ideas to network on a tight budget
1. The monthly “last Wednesday” coffee morning
A shameless plug I know. This is a great way to introduce yourself to a few members, there is no need for a life story moment. A good way to get some great pointers for your networking.
It just costs what you drink or eat and some time. The advantage of meeting anyone for a coffee of course is the cost.
This is important for when you want to follow-up and want to avoid problems related to “lets do lunch.” It can also save you time because you can meet someone a little later if they are not “an early bird.”
You can network by having more than one meeting and maximise your use of time whilst keeping travel costs to a minimum.
2. Volunteer at events
The group holds a variety of events during the year and people volunteer to help with promotion, on the night and a lot of other ways to keep things running smoothly.
It helps you to get to know others and to make connections comfortably. A number of people have even added it to their volunteer activities section of their LinkedIn profile.
There are other groups who will waive their conference or workshop costs for your help. For those people volunteering it helps to give them the feeling of being involved and to not be a “newbie” or guest.
Organisers will often ensure a form of introduction is made to other more useful contacts. This helps to extend the relationships base and to facilitate any request for some advice or some help.
3. Dog walks, gym class, church or other daily moments
Too often people seek out formal networking events which in reality can exist anywhere.
There are many networking opportunities you may not even have to seek out. There are some interactions which result from a regular activity such as going for a walk with a dog which can lead to multiple conversations with others. Will it get you a job, not immediately, will it get you a referral or some local hiring or business news, more than likely.
People can interact every day without trying too hard. In time and after a few conversations you can learn more about these people and maybe then later go for a coffee.
What could be the worst thing that could happen? You just introduce yourself and practice for a real networking moment at another time.
How many times do we greet people to perfect our Swiss Grüezi mitenand or Müesli to make sure we are not heard to say Müüsli ( Small mouse – Swiss German).
4. Free events, Meetups and other no cost networking opportunities
There are a number of events, new store openings, book signings or other event types which may be personally interesting to you and not related to business.
Eventbrite or Zuerich.com have some great options for you to consider. University, city or town websites or their affiliated tourism site often promote a variety of events and should not be overlooked.
The great thing with many of these is the fact you can invite a friend along or someone you met recently who could be interested in the same event. Online you have options with tools such as Twitter chats (link to how to participate guide), online forums and Reddit where you can use virtual networking to add to your in-person networking efforts.
5. Remember your own network
When you’re looking to expand your network without spending money attending events, don’t forget about the network you already have. Have a look through your Facebook and Twitter relationships or those you know because of your extended family and others.
Calling old school friends or others using WhatsApp or Skype is a cost effective option.
6. Attend a PFWYC lunch not a speaker luncheon
It is always good to be clear about the costs of networking when trying to keep to a budget.
Knowing a lunch bill will be “PFWYC” ( pay for what you consume) gives an event a known value when compared against another with a set menu price which can be CHF100 plus in Zurich. There are some great locations for an informal networking lunch and the costs for a Menu 1 or 2 can be closer to CHF25 -30 and allow for a great time to be had by all who attend.
Hopefully this experience share of our organising different types of events helps you to think of your own networking on a budget.
As a group we often have to cover room hire and basic refreshment costs, at other times a “Zurich for all” event is held as attend for free.
Catering in Switzerland for 80 plus people can easily be CHF2-3000. This means an event organiser looks to balance their books as well.
They are no different to you.
Your developed strategy for networking on a tight budget which includes online, free and a paid events will we hope help you to achieve your goals.