How to choose a networking group

You’ve been to so many networking groups, clubs, socials, business after 5’s, breakfast meetings, etc. it’s overwhelming. Plus, you now have so many business cards you can wallpaper your bathroom. Sound familiar?

Here are some tips to help you pick the right group for you – and dump the groups that are no longer a right fit.

First, ask yourself some tough questions:

1. Who needs to know about you to help you reach your goals?

2. Does this (name them) networking group serve your target audience?

3. Does this group have members who ARE your audience – people who know or serve your industry or company targets?

4. How much time does active membership in each group take?

5. How often do they meet?

6. How big is your personal commitment?

Know that if a group is not working for you, it’s OK to cancel your membership. However, it’s NOT OK to break ties with those people in the group you enjoy most.

Next, pick three!

If you’re just starting out  or trying to whittle down your obligations, pick at least three types of groups.

Peer Group: For brainstorming, education, and commiserating. Nobody gets you and your situation  like your peers.

Prospects: A group that is your ideal target market or who knows or works with your ideal target market.

Professional business group: Hiring decision-makers often Google your name before meeting with you. Membership in a professional organization can boost your online presence.

After choosing your three groups…

You’ll need to know when a group’s a great fit for your career – and when it’s not. With some groups, you’ll know after the first meeting it’s not a food fit; others take time to gel. For example, if you’re active in the group and meeting the right people, it may be a good fit. The goal is not to collect business cards. The goal is to build relationships that grow with you, your career, and your business. It comes down to this:

If you’re not building relationships in the group, and you’re just going for the food, it’s not a good fit.

Want more networking tips? Read Rock Your Network®.

Got ideas? Share how you decide if a group’s a right fit for you.

Image created by SnapHappy Creative LLC.

©2009 – 2011 | Wendy Terwelp | All rights reserved.

3 thoughts on “How to choose a networking group

  1. I don’t want to come across as being hypercritical here, but I think your angle is not conducive to the most effective way of practicing networking, though I see your intention is quite positive.

    If you focus on what you need, you’re likely to end up in the same place where you started – with you next to yourself and a whole lot of business cards in your hands that you don’t know what to do with.

    The question to start with at an event is not “Who needs to know about me to help me reach my goals?”

    The question to start with at that event is “Where is the new person who needs to know my last contact who is looking for help in getting her own problems resolved since that last conversation I had with her in the last networking event that I attended?”

    Be THE matchmaker.

    That’s what networking is all about. This is how you become the go-to person. It is by becoming the go-to person that you become indispensable. You get the job offers without even looking for them. You get the business leads that self qualify.

    Change your angle of approach and you change your results.

    • Hi Arturo,

      Thanks for your comment.

      You’re definitely spot on with being the go-to person and being a resource for others. YES!

      As this article is about how to pick the right group for your career or business goals, it is important to know who needs to know about you so that you choose the right group to join. Once you’ve joined the right group(s) for your goals and target audience, YES to being the go-to person in that group.

      As you said, “be the matchmaker.” Ask others great questions (including “how can I help YOU?”), actively listen, then provide the appropriate resource to help them. You’ve got to fuel your network to fire it up! So I’ll also add follow-up, follow-up, follow-up.

      Have a great week!

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