I gave a presentation at the Ann Arbor-Ypsilanti Regional Chamber last week. It was a good crowd and they reacted well to what I had to say (meaning no one threw anything at me). One of the points I made has to do with the nature of joining any networking group. I made it in the form of an analogy involving Disney.

Honestly, I don’t know why Disney’s on my mind so much recently.

The point went something like this:

Joining a networking group is kind of like taking a trip to Disney World. You’ve paid for the airplane trip to Orlando and the hotel room and, of course, your Park Hopper tickets. You and your whole family are standing in the parking lot (or you just got off the resort bus). The kids are excited and everyone is ready for some fun.

OK, got the picture?

Now imagine walking away without actually entering the park.

That’s pretty much the same thing as joining a networking group and not participating — not showing up for the events, not volunteering to support the group. Listen, no one would expect even as magical a place as Disney World to be fun if you didn’t actually go in and ride the rides. Why would anyone think they would get real networking benefit from just signing up for the group?

If you are a member of a group — if you’ve paid your dues and your name is on the membership list — you’re standing at the gate of what might be a magical (and profitable) experience. Make the decision now to walk through the gate and hop on the first carousel that crosses your path.

You won’t regret it!