I’ve been networking officially for over five years (now almost 10!) so I’d like to offer Tab’s Tips for choosing a networking group.
First, allow me to offer my definition of networking.
- every meeting is a networking meeting
- looking for ways to connect everyone you meet with someone else you know
- being a connector
- adding value
- having an abundance mentality
- partnering instead of competing
- looking for “power partners” or cohorts
A networking group is simply a formal way to accomplish the above.
Networking is by far the most effective way I’ve found to make connections and market my business.
There are many shapes and sizes, from large industry-exclusive groups that pass formal referrals on a weekly basis to more of a casual mastermind concept where several compatible business owners get together to assist and encourage one another.
That’s the trick: with so many networking groups out there, how do you choose one??
Tab’s Tips for Choosing a Networking Group
1. START WITH YOUR WHY
As with virtually every topic I cover, you must know your WHY before you begin.
Some common “whys” for networking:
- passing and receiving referrals
- meeting potential customers and clients
- meeting potential cohorts or power partners
- personal development
- professional growth
- a mastermind opportunity to both learn and contribute
- to establish new connections
- to share about your business
- a chance to get out of the office and relax
- a fun time with the girls
What are your priorities?
You have to ask yourself if the group is going to address your “why” and be worth your time and energy.
- Do you get to give a commercial?
- Will you have an opportunity to broadcast your expertise?
- Can you learn from the others in the group?
- Will those in the group be eager to learn from you?
- Are like-minded people in attendance?
- Is the group too laid back?
- Is the group too high-pressure?
- Are you in agreement with the group’s mission and/or philosophy?
- Can you meet the expectations set forth for group members?
2. ASK UP FRONT
Here are a few things to consider before committing.
The time, location and frequency of the meetings. Is it out of your way? Is it too often or too infrequent? Will you struggle to make the time-frame work with your schedule?
Count the cost. Do you have to buy lunch? How much does membership cost?
Is there an online component (a Facebook group, a resource list) that will allow you to network outside of the meetings as well?
Are you expected to hold one-on-ones outside of meetings? Can your schedule handle it?
Once you’ve committed…
3. MAKE THE MOST OF IT
Be fully committed to the group. Attend regularly, arrive on time, take notes and be engaged in the meetings (no constant phone checking).
Consider taking on a leadership role within the group. Establish yourself as a giver and as a leader, plus you’ll get to know people even more.
TAB’S TIP: Go deep with a few rather than shallow with many.
This goes for groups as well as people.
Belonging to three perfect groups is better than six “just OK” groups. Once you get more involved, choose a few people to single out to nurture a connection with.
This is how lasting relationships are formed. Not only will you grow to like each other, you’ll know their needs and they’ll know yours, which makes it a lot easier to pass referrals. I talk regularly to ladies I met during my early networking days over ten years ago!
I hope these tips for choosing a networking group help you find the perfect group or groups to accomplish your goals. For a more personalized strategy, contact me for a strategy session here!