In large cities you have roughly over 15,000 networking groups to choose from. How do you choose?
Which ones are best for you? Do you belong to one group or many? How do you maximize your time without spending or wasting thousands? These are all valid questions. Here are some tips to help you narrow down your options.
To start, what is it that you do? What is your business? What are you trying to network? Actually, a lot of new networkers don't have a clear definition or vision to answer that question. First, get clear. Choose one title to represent yourself. Many people have many titles or things they do. Pick one. People don't take you seriously if you have many titles. This is important especially if your just getting to know a group of people.
Once you have established a title for yourself your comfortable with you can then get started. Step one, get online. The Internet will be your best resource as it usually is. Look for groups with the same interests that pertain to your field. For example, if your a makeup artist looking for new clients google makeup artist networking groups. Many will pop up so do a little research. Look how many meetings they have held in the past three months and look at the comments from current members. Also, look at how many members they have.
You usually can even contact the members directly and get their feedback from the group. A good rule of thumb is if the group does not have more than 60 members and they don't host meetings on a monthly basis minimum, steer clear of this group. It would be a waste of time for you and the group is not serious about networking and connecting. This may be more of a hobby group which may be fun later on down the road but not in the first three years of building your business. Time is money and your on a mission of building at the moment.
Another good rule of thumb is to visit groups who let you attend two meetings for free before charging membership fee. Visiting the groups for free is a great way to test the waters. See if the other people attending the group are established, professional individuals.
Check if you like the flow and energy of the group. Are people friendly and open? Did people engage you or was it a cold group? Would this be a place you would be happy visiting again? These are questions you want to ask yourself before becoming a member.
Become a member of two networking groups. These are the two groups you will pay for membership, attend functions and events. Make sure you pick high quality groups. The membership fee per group should be no more than $500 a year. If its a good group you will get your return back instantly.
If any networking group is always free or don't charge a membership fee of any kind do not attend these groups. Anything worth while needs to cost something. You must have stake in the game to play. Period.