Networking Groups, Put Out the Welcome Mat

“Great men show politeness in a particular way; a smile suffices to assure you that you are welcome, and keep about their avocations as if you were a member of the family.”
~ John James Audubon

networking-welcome-home
Welcome home.

That should be the clarion call for every networking group. Visitors, new members, or even those who’ve joined but attend irregularly should feel as if they’ve just walked in their own front door and have family there to greet them. Too often, though, without meaning to be, groups can be cliquish, insular, and sometimes give the impression of being downright unfriendly.

Recently I delivered a program on networking to the Michigan Recruiting and Retention Network’s Annual Convention. As a speaker, I’m often seen as a bit of an outsider. In fact, I’ve presented to some groups where I was told I was to wait in a particular room until it was my time to talk and otherwise I was not to wander the halls.

MRRN was about as opposite as you could get. My contact, Teressa, encouraged me to show up the night before and attend the opening reception. When I walked in, one of the members, Cari Kiselis, happened to arrive at the same moment. She greeted me as we entered and introduced me to the first group we ran into. Everyone was at the reception — members, of course, but also my fellow speakers and the vendors from the exhibit hall. Everyone had a grand time chatting with each other and the conversation rarely touched on work. Rather I had numerous conversations about shared history, life in the northern lower peninsula of Michigan, and favorite movies.

Well, quite an opening session, I had to admit, but how would the next day play out?

It turns out these folks are true networkers. They not only welcomed everyone to take part in every aspect of the conference, but actively encouraged it. This included everything right up to and including the murder mystery dinner on the second night. I felt every bit a member of this group, no matter that I had met all but one of them only 24 hours before.

Take a look at the groups to which you belong. Does the guest or irregular member feel welcomed? Or are they more often than not ignored by the regular members?

What could you do at the next meeting to make them feel like they’ve come home?

Photo by Pixabay user frosch33

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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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