Are you thinking about joining a networking group? I have been to dozens of networking meetings and experienced many different types of groups and organizations. In general, a networking group typically takes time and most likely there is a cost to consider. In order to make the most of your time and budget, you should first determine what are you goals and objectives for joining a group and then consider these questions as a part of your decision making process:
– Are the members actively involved and do they attend the meetings on a regular basis? There may be a large membership, but if the members are not accessible, how will you be able to build and cultivate meaningful relationships?
– Are the members from different business categories? For referral purposes, it could be better to have different industries and business types represented rather than too heavy of a concentration in one particular business.
– What is the demographic profile of the other members and how does this profile support my networking goals? You should consider joining if the group members are in your target market or have access to my target market. You can also think about potential ways to partner with other members for mutual benefit.
– What is covered in the meetings? Is there an action oriented agenda? Nothing is more frustrating than going to a meeting and not getting anything out of it.
– Do the networking meetings include a learning component? If so, what types of topics are covered? You should evaluate if this education will be beneficial in helping you to thrive.
– How often does the group meet and are the meeting times convenient?
– What type of other perks and membership benefits are available to you?
– Can you attend a meeting on a trial basis first before committing to the membership fee? This way you can see if there synergies within the group and observe how they interact with each other. This will help you understand if the group is a good fit for your networking goals and objectives.
– What differentiates this group from other groups? They may have a system or process that keeps the members engaged and active.
– What is included in the membership fees (meals, learning, contact lists etc) and what other costs should you be aware of?
There are lots of ways for a networking group to be effective and based on your networking goals, you have to evaluate each group you are considering to see if it is a good fit for your needs. Remember, networking is about building meaningful relationships, so to be the most useful, choose groups that reinforce this concept. In addition, look at how the group adds value in terms of education, referrals, speakers and more. It is not as important for a group to have all these elements as it is to be a good fit based on your specific needs.
For powerful networking results with lifelong impact, you may want to consider the Network PRo Toolkit!