How do you pick the right networking group for you?
When I am talking to potential new members of our groups I am adamant that the person initially comes as a visitor. They must see whether they like the group and whether they feel that the members in the group are people they can work with?
So what should be your influences for choosing the right group for you?
- Frequency – Our group meets once a month although the interaction goes on throughout the month in various different ways, whether it is meet ups, 1-2-1s or via the WhatsApp group. Other groups meet once a week, every other week or even just on line. Now the decision is how much time have you got and how much can you spare as when you join a group the more interaction with the members the better.
- Commitment – We ask our members to attend the lunches once a month and get to know the members as well as they possibly can. So this will include regular 1-2-1s. All groups should recommend these actions too but some will monitor them and you will be judged on your interaction.
- Calibre of members – Probably the most important factor in making your choice. Its not necessarily the size of the business as much as the connections the attendees have. Networking is more about giving than receiving. You want to know that you can recommend your fellow members with confidence to your clients and connections and vice versa. You will be surprised who knows who and once you get a reputation as a giver you will find people will start recommending you.
- Cost – A difficult one as the higher the cost does not necessarily mean the better the networking but you have to see a “Return on Your Investment”. Be careful as up front costs and then weekly attendance costs can mount up so look at the physical cost over 12 months but also the cost in time. If you are attending each week, what is your hourly rate and incorporate travelling time and any time required to fulfil your commitments. Of course there are always the free events but you know what they say? “You get what you pay for!”
- Location – Quite often people are swayed by the location of a meeting in the city centre but this does not always mean you are going to attract the better networkers. Outer town locations are becoming more favourable with better parking, better value venues and reduced travelling times.
- The Host – Some groups will expect the members to organise the meetings and the membership but if you have a paid host such as our group it is part of the hosts responsibility to represent their members at other events. Not necessarily act as a BDM but be mindful for useful contacts for their members outside the group. SO why not interview the host and find out what having a paid host is all about and the benefits opposed to member ran groups.
- Social Media Activity – This quite often goes under the radar but social media is a form of networking/marketing. So will a group support your social media activity. Is there a channel for this to be broadcast to other members and can you use the benefit of their followers too.
So above are just a few suggestions to make you think about when choosing a group that is right for you. If you feel welcomed straight away, see the potential for working with the members and it fits your time and budget then that is probably the group for you.