Rather than limit yourself to traditional networking organizations, such as trade groups or other large associations, consider building your own personal network. It’s easier than you may think.
Start with identifying a niche industry you would like to get more work from. Then, think about other non-competing businesses that serve that industry. Finally, recruit one person from each of those other providers to join your group, and meet regularly to network. For example, say you are interested in developing more commercial real estate business. Members of your group might include a banker, CPA, insurance agent, real estate agent, developer, contractor, etc. Don’t have too large a group, and only one person from each segment of the industry. Now, you have your personal business development group.
She suggests an initial meeting that will lay out what is expected of each member in terms of their contribution to monthly meetings; and the priorities for the group in terms of “business leads, marketing advice, industry information, informative articles, and even, personal lessons learned.” I agree with Nancy, that there is strength in numbers, and each member may already have great contacts that may benefit other members.
Take a look at her article. It’s definitely worth a read.