Time is money. You may have heard that a time or two. It may be cliché but it’s true; your time is worth something and you should remember this each time you consider joining a new networking group. None of us have extra hours in our work day to waste, so before you head out the door to another networking event, ask yourself these questions.
1. What is your goal in networking with this group?
Your goal should be more than just meeting new people and getting your business card into more hands. There must be a specific need addressed, or a particular and beneficial set of people or topics that will help you reach your business goals. Some of your networking group goals might be:
- To find potential clients or joint venture partners
- To find connections with a specific expertise, or find opportunities for speaking engagements
- To expand your skills or knowledge base
Also, remember quality versus quantity. A big group doesn’t necessarily lead to more referrals and revenue; but building quality relationships does.
2. What are the requirements and costs of the networking group?
Many networking groups are fairly open, but some are not. As mentioned before, quality is usually better than quantity. Highly relevant organization members who are highly engaged will make it a more valuable organization for you. Consider the following to be costs, in addition to any monetary requirements for membership and attendance:
- What actions need to be taken before you can become a member? For example: do you have to invite a certain amount of people, make a certain amount of referrals, or have a certain amount of one-on-one meetings with members or the leadership team?
- What are the requirements for attendance at meetings and special events and how often are each held?
- Is the networking group open to all or do they have industry exclusive members?
3. How involved do you want to be?
Quality, long-term business relationships take time to build. If you want to make and keep relationships, you should be willing to commit to networking groups that fit with your goals. It doesn’t work to just visit, pass out and collect business cards, then never show up again. You must be willing to take the time to nurture these relationships over time. You should also be willing to participate and help others with your expertise.
Before you visit another networking group make sure you have clear goals and an overall networking strategy. Do you want to join several organizations where you can come and go, or are you looking for one group you can grow with, get involved in and later become part of their leadership team? After you have set your goals and determined the type of group you want to join, visit a few before deciding on the best one for you. The right networking group can be invaluable to your business.
What types of networking groups have been the most valuable for you?