says Carlo Pandian

There?s a lot of buzz around the internet these days for marketing and growing your business.? The computing revolution of the last twenty years has indeed made running your own business much easier than before and certainly made managing a business more efficient and simple.

The internet also offers a whole range of opportunities to market your firm through social networking, but oddly one site has taken a rather unusual angle on the social networking trend.? With Meet Up you actually get to meet your friends and make new ones.? If this sounds like a one of those sites it?s not, and it?s actually a great take on the social networking phenomena.

What is Meet Up?

Meet Up allows you to create or join groups.? Simple as that really; however these groups are not restricted to the virtual world and, in fact, only use the virtual world to manage the groups.? The meetings themselves are firmly located in the real world.? Groups are focussed on just about every interest and pursuit that you can imagine, from macram? to mountaineering, and the site really just operates as a central point of contact for people to locate groups in their area and then join in with the fun.

But is it just for hobbies?

Meet Up is very keenly focussed on ?hobbies? but that doesn?t mean that it?s only for this purpose.? You can set up and run just about any group you wish; this could be a marketing seminar, or any talk relevant to your industry.? Generally, it?s not effective to set up a sales type show, but works best when creating events that are likely to be of interest to your target demographic.

By finding groups that are relevant to your products in your area you can join up and set up a talk, event or simply a summer barbeque!? This type of event gives you the chance to ?market by stealth? but the hard sell variety will be a big turn off to the groups? users, so tread softly.

Meet Up Tools

There are simple tools on the Meet Up site which allow you to create lists of attendees, print name badges, send email reminders and create an RSPV system to help you manage the event smoothly.? The site offers you, effectively, the ability to access an events management team, without the need to actually hire one.? While it may be useful to hire event managers for larger, corporate events, this type of site allows you to hold less formal talks, seminars and events.

Target Groups

Depending on the industry you are in there may already be a Meet Up group to match in your area.? If this is the case then it?s worth joining and setting up an event that will interest users.? You can focus your efforts on targeting either potential customers or setting up a more B2B type session.? Both have advantages to grow your client base, with the former being the most obvious type to grow new business.? Corporate and B2B events should not, however, be discounted.

These can help to raise your profile with other local businesses, and can be especially useful if you target firms who operate in similar, but not the same, fields as your own firm.? This can create a number of opportunities for referrals and partnership working, which in the current economic climate are excellent ways to keep a healthy order book.

Old Tricks and New Technology

It?s strange, perhaps, that in the era of online social networking, that this type of site should have been created.? However, it just goes to show, that whatever the internet is, it?s no substitute for good old fashioned networking!

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Carlo Pandian is a business graduate and blogs on business, entrepreneurialism and networking. He also writes tutorials on QuickBooks accounting software and is a regular contributor at Business2Community.

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