I gave a presentation at the Ann Arbor Chamber of Commerce yesterday talking about the benefits of the many networking opportunities they offer. One of the points I always try to emphasize is the importance of showing up. I often relate the story of one of the former Chamber members whom I knew. Let’s call her Mary.

As an Ambassador for the Chamber, one of my responsibilities is to deliver the welcome bags to new members. Mary was one of my recipients. Now, I make a point of keeping in contact with the people I meet this way, usually calling every month or so. It was about a year after the bag delivery when I made one of my regular calls to see how she was doing. After a few pleasantries she let me know that she was going to be leaving the Chamber.

I was surprised, but we all know that not every group is appropriate for every networker. The Chamber is no exception. Still I was curious. “So, Mary, why have you decided to leave?”

“Well, I’ve been in the Chamber for a year and I haven’t gotten anything out of it. No new business. Nothing.”

“Wow! I’m sorry to hear that. Maybe there were better places to find the folks you were seeking. Which events did you attend?”

“Oh, I didn’t have time to do any of that!”


So, Mary was assuming that all she had to do was join a group and somehow, miraculously, business would start flowing her way. If you think about it, treating group membership this way would be like going to Home Depot, buying a hammer, and expecting it to build a house for you. Just like the hammer, membership in the group is only a tool. Without us being the driving force, it can do absolutely nothing to improve our businesses or our lives.

So, what can we do to “pick up the hammer”? We’ll talk about that tomorrow.