You are already a member of a few groups, both personal and professional. You joined them for the great networking and the many business opportunities which they’ve made available to you. After all, why else would you join a group, right?

Well, let’s face it, there are groups and there are groups. Each has it’s own reason for being and depending on what your needs are, one might be more productive than another for you, despite each having networking opportunities. So, what other qualities might you consider in a group?

Accountability. If you are trying to achieve particular goals in your life, whether business or personal, having a support group which can help hold you accountable is a great tool for success. Keep an eye out for groups which actually have this as a formal part of the membership. Also, make sure you feel a level of trust with the other members such that you would be willing to share your goals with them.

Brainstorming. Perhaps you’ve got some great goals, but you just aren’t sure how to get there. This would be a great time to call upon the expertise of the group. You’d be amazed at how many solutions multiple heads can come up with. The only challenge is that you have to willing to listen.

Companionship. Especially for those of us who are self-employed, work can be a very isolating thing. Sometimes the social aspect of the group is almost as important as the referral generating parts. Look for groups with interesting members with diverse points of view.

Dedication. If you have a particular social, political, or religious crusade to which you’ve dedicated your time, you can leverage these pursuits by networking with others of like mind. You’ll not only further the goals of your movement, but you will also be networking with individuals who already have at least one thing in common with you.

Education. Many groups specialize in their training programs. Seminars, talks, lectures, even speakers brought in as a part of regular networking events can all contribute to an atmosphere of continuing education. If you enjoy surrounding yourself with folks who enjoy continually extending their knowledge, look for groups which have such instructional opportunities as a part of their charters.

As you can see, there are a variety of reasons other than just business which could motivate you to join a particular group. Sometimes it’s these secondary qualities which can make the difference with your success both as a member and as a networker.

Photo credit: Kriss Szkurlatowsk