. . . if your networking group assesses a fee for belonging, please pay your dues on time. They depend on a certain influx of dollars to sustain the kind of networking environment you need in which to network.
Let’s face it, some groups are worth it, others are not.
My own personal belief is that most are – provided you are in touch with the accepted rules of networking engagement. So, in other words, the groups you attend are only as effective as you are. The fees for belonging to the group increase the investment you put into the group and usually correlates with the effort and intensity with which you participate in them. That’s called ROI (return on investment). Membership fees should be budgeted and are simply a cost of doing business. Some group will waive the first month’s dues as a member incentive. Others charge a small door charge for each meeting to offset charges incurred for the meeting.
Dues are one thing, however there are other commitments that are required. For any group to be successful, it must depend on their members for other paybacks. There must be effective activity. By that I mean each member has a responsibility to stay true to the group and its member by continually contributing to its success by actively referring business leads to each other and helping members connect to others in and outside of the group. It all contributes to the groups success. It’s a support system for your own business.
Beleive it or not, the networking groups I tend to frequent less are the huge groups where anyone can attend and that sponsors tend to support by their product and services donations. These groups generally attract lots of people but there seems to be less emphasis on developing long-term relationships.
I am disgusted with the “meet” market mass hysteria that seems to follow very large networking events. Avoid this schmoozefest. And. . . nothing irritates me more than having a “Networking Nancy” or a “Networking Ned” shove a business card in hand and say, “What do you do?” and before I can answer, they interrupt with their unsolicited pitch without waiting to see if I care. Like they care? It doesn’t feel like it. Like I care? Hardly. No one cares about your opportunity until they know how much you care. This sort of nonsense is called “premature solicitation.” It gives networking (and you) a bad name. Please don’t do it.
I find that the small groups of 30 to 60 members are much more productive, the members are frequent attendees, know each other well and are known to provide more networking education, professional support, information and exchange business leads more often. Your RIO is often much higher. Membership dues often become irrelevant based upon the amount of business you receive.
These groups are the ones that must have your financial support to because they often have to pay for a meeting room and some offer breakfast or lunch which are covered by monthly or yearly fees. Membership fees are often very affordable. Other associated costs may include website hosting, website management, newsletter preparation, and autoresponder system to keep in touch with members and more. The goal of smaller groups is to promote the networking group and the individual member businesses. They encourage “one-on-ones” with other members.
Smaller groups have more rules and expectations. Members must attend 80% (varies) of the meetings. Some allow infrequent substitutes in case of emergency but others may not. A meeting with a client or customer usually supersedes attending a networking meeting and may be considered an emergency. Some limit membership to persons at the corporate level, others do not. Most smaller groups are more selective about who is invited to join and most require a recommendation by another member. Some have a “1 vote against” and you’re not invited to join because of a possible conflict with another member. Often you will find only one person in each business category; e.g., one Realtor®, one banker, etc. Some offer New Member Orientations (a great idea, by the way). Referrals are aften checked at the following meeting to verify that people are sending good referrals to each other. (another great idea).
Aways write the meeting times of the group you choose on your calendar, and make the commitment to participate at every meeting. That’s the kind of commitment it takes to get the most for your money!
Bottom line. . . always support the networking group that supports you best. Remember, ROI. Also remember that you get out of a networking group what you are willing to put into it.
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!”
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