Not long ago I wrote about dealing with networking overload, especially during the holidays. One of the things that can lead to this condition is over-committing to the number of groups in which we participate. I’ve spoken with people who are members in five, six, or even more. All I can think is “How?”

We all know that in order to benefit from networking in a group, we have to do more than just sign up. In fact, we have to do more than show up. We must actively participate in the group — donate our time and effort to make the group better for everyone else. We must continue to meet new members, establish relationships, and maintain existing ones. How could we possibly do that with five or more groups? There aren’t enough hours in the week — not if we want to do our jobs and have a personal life, too.

The best rule of thumb I’ve seen is to associate with no more than three groups. Of course, the makeup of those associations will depend on our networking goals, who our target market is, and what opportunities we have available to us. If someone is new to the idea of networking, I usually recommend a good first approximation is:

  1. A general networking group like a Chamber of Commerce
  2. A closed networking group such as BNI
  3. An association which supports their target market
No matter which groups we join, though, it always has to be because we have something to contribute — not because we think the other members will pay for our services. As long as we keep that in mind, the benefits of group membership will flow our way.
And the sales will be a nice side effect.

Photo credit: Svilen Milev