Networking Groups – Part Six: The End

Ok, I’m wrapping this up now.  How do you know when it’s time to exit a group?  These are some things I have discovered over the years that indicate the end is near.

1)  You are no longer getting new business from the group.  I was in one group for many years.  I had a sentimental attachment to it because I was one of the original members.  Eventually though I realized that I had good customers and friends from the group, but the dynamics weren’t changing very much.  It had become more of a social club.  It was time to move on.

2)  Numbers are dwindling and members are not committed.  If something isn’t working then it will eventually fade away.  This has happened many times.  Boredom sets in.  Visitors don’t become members because they sense the lack of enthusiasm.

3)  Frustration rules.  This means either the leadership team has made the structure of the group so regimented or so loosely run that nothing gets accomplished.  Too many requirements make members dread the meetings because they know they can’t fulfill the obligations.  Little or no structure means that your objectives of doing business don’t happen because the order of the meeting isn’t enforced.  If it can’t be fixed then it’s time to move on.

Did I miss anything?  Any final insights you would like to share?  I hope if you have never tried a networking group you will start visiting some and see how they work.  It might be just what your business needs.  Just pay attention to what is going on.  Don’t let personal discomfort or fear stop you from joining one, but do try to get a sense of what the personalities and dynamics are.  Don’t waste your time and money on something that isn’t going to work for you.  Life is TOO short.

 

 

 

Christel Williams © 2013

 

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Networking Groups – Part Five: The Positives

Did I mention I have been in networking groups for about 12 years now?  There are reasons for that.

1)  They work.  Not all of them, but usually you can find one that does begin to bring in some cash flow as you get to know and trust the other members and they do the same with you.

2)  You make friends.  I have been very blessed to make some very good friends over the years while I have been networking away.  We may not even be able to do business together, but our personalities clicked and a friendship was born.  Friends are worth more than money.

3)  You can learn.  I have no business training other than on the job and sitting at the feet of others who do.  I have often called upon people I have met in these groups for advice and guidance.

4)  You grow.  Did I mention I am an introvert?  Putting yourself into these groups and facing your fears and discomfort makes you better.  I can do a 10 minute presentation now without completely stumbling around for words.  I will never be on the motivation speaker circuit, but I can talk about my business enough to let a group know what I do.

 

What have you found to be positive about networking groups?

 

 

 

 

 

Christel Williams © 2013

 

Networking Groups – Part Four: You Are An Introvert

This little problem may have been my biggest over the years.  People don’t always believe me, but by nature I am an introvert. I love to get to know people one-on-one, but in groups, not so much.  I don’t like to go up to perfect strangers and introduce myself.  Making small talk for an hour at a party is more mentally exhausting to me than taking the SAT again.  Trying to think of new and exciting 30 second elevator speeches or 10 minute presentations is a form of torture some days.

And yet I continue on with networking until I can find a way to market myself and my business without the pain and agony.  If you have found a way, PLEASE share!  The introverts of the world need your help.

 

 

 

 

 

Christel Williams © 2013

Networking Groups – Part Three: Sticky Situations

Here are a few things I have run into over the years.  Have you?  How did you handle them?

1)      You are in a group that requires a minimum number of referrals every month.  It’s pretty obvious that you haven’t referred a few members to anyone.  Why?  You don’t trust them.  Your gut tells you that it will not turn out well if you refer them to a close friend or customer.

2)      A group member hired you to do a job for them.  Ninety days later the invoice has still not been paid.  There is major avoidance going on.  Then someone asks you about that person and if you would use them or if they should work with them.

3)      One person in the group has the amazing ability to hit your very last nerve every single week.  You dread going to the meeting.  Your blood pressure spikes.  You have almost bitten your tongue in half. It’s only a matter of time before there is an epic confrontation.

 

These always make good stories.  Feel free to share (vent), but do not use names!

 

 

 

Christel Williams © 2013

Networking Groups – Part Two: Group Personality

Over the years my friends who are teachers tell me that classes have personalities.  Not just the individual kids, but as a whole, a class will either be attentive, disruptive, fun, quiet, etc.  I have found that networking groups are the same.  Some have fun, upbeat personalities.  Others make you wish you had a dentist appointment to go to every week.

It’s an easy decision to move on from a boring or depressing group if you aren’t making any money out of it, but what do you do when you are actually doing well thanks to the group, but dread going every week?

Feel free to elaborate if you have noticed the different personalities of such groups.

 

 

 

 

Christel Williams © 2013

Networking Groups – Part One: Do They Work?

I started out to write just a quick post about networking groups and how I decide each year which ones to stay with and which ones to leave.  That somehow turned into a six part series…

 

With the occasional exception, my business is local.  I work with small businesses in about a 25 mile radius.  For about 12 years now I have been involved with networking groups in several towns in my part of the world.

Every end of the year I have to analyze whether the investment of time and money is worth the outcome of these groups.  Which groups do I stay with?  Which new groups should I join?

Here is my short Pro/Con List:

1)      Did I make enough revenue to at least pay for the dues?  It is not unusual that I answer “no” to this one.  I have to factor in lost work time, pro bono work I did for the group, cost of door prizes and promotion items given during the year as part of presentations.  It is not just enough to look at your dues each year.  Some groups (that shall remain nameless) will also require training sessions that cut into valuable work time.

2)      Is the revenue I get from the group long-term or short-term? There are a couple of issues here.  First, are the contacts you make in the group likely to be long-term customers or friends?  Second, are the referrals likely to bring repeat business or only be one shot jobs that allow the member to submit a required referral?

 

Do networking groups work for you?  How do you decide which ones to stay in?

 

 

 

Christel Williams ©2013