SCORE offers free mentoring to thousands of business owners in Southern Arizona. For most businesses, joining a group or association can be beneficial.

There are several types of groups, and each has a different primary purpose for existing. If you do not have the time or the budget to join every group, which is the right group for you?

The answer is easier than you think. Simply identify your primary motivation for joining a group, and match that to the primary reason the group exists. When your goals are aligned, the results are better.

All groups provide opportunities to meet people and network, but those are secondary benefits for most groups. You are looking for the primary purpose of the group. Let’s look at a few of them.

  • Chambers of commerce: According to the American Chamber of Commerce Executives, chambers of commerce seeks to further the business interests of its community. They influence government and elected officials to help create a business friendly environment. Chambers also disseminate important information about laws that affect the business community.
  • Professional referral groups: Their primary function is to generate referrals and opportunities for the members. The best referral groups use their collective connections outside the room to create opportunities for each other. Referral groups are not as large as a chamber of commerce, but they don’t need to be. If closed referral business is your primary motivation, Google “commercial referral group Tucson” and join one.
  • Trade associations: There are dozens of trade associations in Southern Arizona, and each can have a slightly different primary purpose. Some common primary purposes of trade associations are to negotiate group discounts, educate the members or provide advocacy on public policy issues. In addition, they may operate trades shows and lobby on behalf of their members.

Leveraging the power of a group allows you to accomplish much more than you can on your own. Join the right group that matches your business goals for 2017.

Bill Nordbrock is vice president of community relations for SCORE Southern Arizona, a nonprofit group that offers free small-business counseling and mentoring by appointment at several locations. For information, go to

, send an email to or call 505-3636.