There are dozens of business networking groups that meet in every city of the country every day of the week. How does a sales rep, business owner, or entrepreneur find the perfect business networking group to join? It’s simple; consider the following 6 criteria when visiting business networking groups:
1) Leadership – Talk to the directors and group presidents that run the business networking group you are considering joining. A group with poor leadership will always yield a less productive experience than a group with quality leadership. Ask the leaders of the business networking group what their vision and goals for the group are.
2) Culture – Different business networking groups create different cultures. Some business networking groups have a more B2B culture, while others have a more B2C culture, some have a mix. Find a group whose culture matches your networking goals and the culture you’re looking to network with.
3) Format – Business networking groups typically follow a structured format that involves a presentation or training, time for members to introduce themselves and pass business cards, and time for other activities. Find a business networking group that uses a format that works for you.
4) Time/Place – Some business networking groups meet as early as 7am while others don’t start until 8.30am or even 9am. Look for business networking groups that fit your schedule as a professional and look for business networking groups that are located within a few minute drive of your home or place of business.
5) Professional Categories – Professionals join business networking groups to exchange referrals for new business leads. Look at the makeup of the group and ask yourself if you’ll be able to provide those professionals with referrals and if you could expect them to bring referrals for you. Consider both the industry of the members as well as their professionalism, experience, and personality.
6) Rules/Regulations – Every business networking group has its own set of rules and regulations. Some groups are too rigid and end up having a very ‘militant’ culture while other groups are too relaxed and become unproductive. Find a business networking group that has the right mix of rules and regulations that you can live with and abide by.
Finding a good business networking group isn’t always easy. But ending up in the right group will be exponentially more beneficial than trying to join a group that isn’t a good fit.