Retail Merchant’s, Chamber of Commerce, Rotary, Kiwanis, etc. The list goes on. Add to that the cadre of different networking groups that are available in your area. You could literally spend every waking hour attending countless groups. Since you neither have the time nor money to join all of them, you should carefully decide which groups will most benefit you. Regarding different networking groups, you should visit several and pick the one(s) that fit your personality and offerings.
The major business associations like Retail Merchants are useful. With membership, you are part of a large organization of small business owners who have a much greater voice than each alone. In addition, you usually have access to many business services at reduced prices and opportunities to speak to groups as a subject expert.
One popular trend these days is the concept of mastermind groups. I recently became familiar with this model when I was asked to join one with a group of business professionals who all have the same goal of building a successful small business. This has been one of the most beneficial groups I have ever belonged to because of the ground rules that were set from the beginning.
Each member’s goals are equally important and constructive feedback is expected from everyone. We try to give each person an equal amount of time to discuss their recent successes and failures. We have a set meeting time and we do not go over our allotted time. Most importantly, this is not a sales opportunity, it is an “ideas” opportunity.