Be a Joiner, K through O

This is the next installment of the continuing series of the various aspects you should look at when you are considering joining a networking group. Of course you should make sure that the networking opportunities will support your ultimate goals. At the same time, it can be the other attributes which make your membership in a group into a long-term success.

On with our list!

Kindred Spirits. If the general membership has a general life philosophy which is radically at odds with your own, it can make networking within the group very uncomfortable. Since, in general, we tend to avoid those things which cause discomfort, that doesn’t bode well for your long-term success as a member of the group. Meeting new people with varied viewpoints can make our lives exciting. Dealing with folks who don’t share our underlying values can sometimes challenge us more than we really need to be challenged.

Leadership Opportunities. We’ve talked about this before. Successful networking in a group requires that you do more than just show up. The best opportunities, of course, are leadership positions. Now, you probably won’t be able to take on a role like this right away, but you should at least be aware of what opportunities might be available to you as you become more integrated into the community.

Membership. By membership here, I’m referring to actual numbers. How many members does the group have? Smaller groups can make it a lot easier to meet people, but may have a limited variety of people to get to know. Larger groups can have the opposite situation — a wider variety, but more difficult to develop strong connections due to the “lost in the crowd” factor. Neither is necessarily good or bad, but you have to decide where you would be more comfortable and get the results you are seeking.

New Faces. In order for groups to remain vibrant and healthy, they need to have new members periodically. Without the new members, the best a group can hope for is to stagnate. The worst that can happen is that there will be no replacements for those members who leave for one reason or another and eventually the group will cease to exist. Does the group you are visiting have guests at every meeting? Is the group growing or shrinking?

Offers. Many groups offer discounts and other benefits to their users. Sometimes this can actually add up to a significant amount. Our local Chamber offers discounts on workers compensation insurance. Depending on the size of the business, it might even be enough to cover the annual fee to maintain the Chamber membership. I wouldn’t choose a networking group solely on the added benefits, but it’s always nice to know what you have available.

Hopefully some of these attributes are giving you ideas of what to look for in the groups you think you’d like to join. While the networking is an important aspect of membership, these other benefits can sweeten the deal considerably.

Photo credit: Gabriella Fabbri

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About Greg Peters

Greg Peters, president and founder of The Reluctant Networker, LLC, is a business networking specialist. He works with trade associations on both the local and national level to create a culture of better connections and greater opportunity. Find out more at www.TheReluctantNetworker.com or gpeters@thereluctantnetworker.com.

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