It has been my experience that eventually it will be time to settle into a single neworking group and focus all you networking energy there. Hard-contact networking groups are groups that are very structured and play by the rules.
In other words, you “must” attend “weekly” meetings where the group’s leader calls the meeting to order, goes over housekeeping stuff, and then everyone gets a chance to do a 30-second connection (some call this an elevator speech) of themselves. Once people know who everyone is and what they’re looking for, then you can get up and network at will. A little structure never hurt anyone. As a matter of fact, my belief is that it is required for the group to function effectively.
If you haven’t already found a group that suits you, visit as many groups as possible that spark your interest. This may take some time to determine your interest in them and their interest in you.
Notice the tone and attitude of the group. Mix and mingle with as many members as possible. Do the members of the group demonstrate a support for one another? Does the leadership appear competent? How often do they meet? (Weekly is always BEST). Ask lots of questions from lots of people there to get a feel for the group. This means questions that ask who, what, where, when, and how as opposed to those that can be answered with a simple yes or no.
Do they feature outside speakers with relevant networking topics? Do they feature a member each week for 5 to 7 minutes to help the membership to get more acquainted with their business? Networking should be for fun & profit. Some groups will allow you to visit several times before joining.
Are their meetings at breakfast, lunch or evenings? People who get their day started on a positive note with a breakfast meeting are often the most serious networkers. Lunch is next on my list and evenings are low on my list. I’ve noticed that people who are not doing well, seem to gravitate to the evening meeting and will often head to the bar and are really not that serious about networking. There are exceptions, so choose carefully.
You may want to call a few members and schedule a time to get together to determine their success with the group and overall impression of the members. Look for groups and contacts relevant to your aims and capabilities.
It’s important to note that I am not talking about the ulta-large groups where hundreds attend and few actually now the ins-and-outs of networking. The more relevant your targeting of groups and contacts, the more useful your meetings and referrals will be. A group of 30 to 60 works well because you actually get to know the members faster and can get down to some serious relationship building. Networking is about relationships.
Ask yourself, “What can I contribute to this networking community which people will find truly helpful?” Next, work hard to extend that help – whatever it is – to as many relevant people as possible. When the group’s intentions are not so much sales-oriented, but more focused on making long-term relationship, these groups are much more successful.
The goal of the your networking group of choice is to bring together a group of business owners and professionals who are truly best-in-class in their respective business categories, and create a sense of responsibility for each member’s growth and success. The members should make every effort to learn about each member’s business, gain trust and confidence, refer high quality prospects and enthusiastically promote each other whenever possible. These ideas would be a great mission statement for any effective networking group.
Once you find a networking group that fills your needs and whose members you may be able to contribute to, stop and get busy networking. You choose! Take your time and make sure the group (and you) is headed in the right direction.
Copyright © 2011 – Larry James. Larry James is a Professional Speaker, Author and Coach. Larry James presents networking seminars nationally and offers Networking coaching; one-on-one or for your Networking Group! His latest book is, Ten Commitments of Networking: Creative Ways to Maximize Your Personal Connections! Something NEW about Networking is posted on this Networking BLOG every 4th day! Visit Larry’s Networking Website at: “Networking HQ!”
NOTE: All articles and networking tips listed in this BLOG – written by Larry James – are available for reprint in magazines, periodicals, newsletters, newspapers, eZINEs, on the Internet or on your own Website. Click here for details.
Add Larry James as a “friend” to your Facebook page: http://www.Facebook.com/larry.james
Follow Larry’s “once daily” Relationship Tweet at: http://www.Twitter.com/larryjames
Follow Larry’s “Relationship BLOG” at: http://CelebrateLove.wordpress.com/
Follow Larry’s “Wedding BLOG” at: http://CelebrateIntimateWeddings.wordpress.com
Follow Larry’s “Authors & Speakers” BLOG at: http://www.AuthorsandSpeakerNetwork.wordpress.com/