I’ve been part of business networking groups for over twenty years and have even started and grown my own successful groups. After twenty years of joining and starting networking groups, I’ve come to realize that picking and choosing the right networking group takes time and skill.
Here’s what I’ve learned: We waste time, energy and money if we’re not networking with the right group of people.
I define the right group of people as: Group members who are willing to get to know you professionally
and support your business growth.
If you currently belong to a networking group, let me ask you 3 important questions:
1. What is the return on investment (in dollars and cents) for the time and money you’ve spent networking with this group? I know from personal experience it takes time and money to attend networking meetings and events. Time away from your business, money to buy a ticket for the event and/or purchase food plus, the time it takes to follow up with the people you’ve met.
Have you gotten new business from your networking experience and, have you made more money than you’ve spent by attending this networking group?
2. Has each member of your networking group taken time to get to know, like and trust you? I’m a realistic networker. I know it takes time and effort to build strong and trustworthy networking relationships. Have all the members of your networking group made the effort to meet with you one-on-one? Have you either invited them or have you accepted their invitation to sit down and learn more about one another’s business?
Part of the networking experience is passing referrals and supporting the growth of each other’s businesses. Do you know, like and trust the members in your group enough to refer your friends, family and customers to them?
3. When you leave a networking meeting or event, do you feel empowered and energized? Sometimes, the energy of a group isn’t the right energy for you. The lack of energy could be from not having the right mix of professions, the personality of the leaders may not match your personality or, you may feel like an outsider and not fit into to the current networking structure.
I believe the whole purpose of networking is to gain greater confidence to grow yourself and your business. If after attending a meeting you’re feeling discouraged or unsure of yourself, then this may not be the right group of people for you.
Caveat: You have to be realistic about networking because building trusting professional relationships takes time. One or two visits to a networking group won’t provide a true feeling for the group as a whole or the members as individuals. It could take a few months before you see business-building results. I also believe that if you want to see results, it is up to you to attend the meetings regularly and reach out to get to know each member and their business.
I’ll ask again, are you networking with the right people?
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