Over the last three plus years I have been to that many networking groups I have lost count. These days with the growth of 4Networking and my leadership position there – I find myself more focusing on that environment and making sure everyone is helping everyone out and it’s a great profitable experience for everyone (as much as I possibly / humanly can at least!).
Some common remarks I used to hear all the time when people are checking out groups are “How many people are there?”, “Well, Group XYZ has 40 people and yours has only 20 so it’s not as good?” and even when I have say a bigger group “Oh yeah, but it’s 40 people and it’s not guaranteed that they will all buy from me”.
Basically, as I have found people to increase with experience in their business – the view goes off the “Size” of the networking group and to the quality, cohesion and interaction of people within it. I remember starting my business in a Chapter of another Networking Group in the Inner West of Sydney. It had from memory about 22 people and it collapsed due to infighting and politics. I then remember later on when 4Networking much much younger, we would have groups of say 8 – 12 people. In those 8 – 12 groups, I would get way more business than I did from groups of 20 and above and it was great.
These experiences have taught me over the years some fundamental points in how business networking groups work. Of course bigger groups are nice (I think 20 is a great size in most situations), however I have found that is the dynamic or the friendship within the group isn’t right – there is no way it’s going to work for you. My first horrible experience in business networking was tainted by that. You had some great people in the group (who I am friends with today) but it wasn’t a fun experience. To me, the right / awesome networking group is not always the biggest – but they usually have the following characteristics:
1) Pleasant / Positive: It’s a great experience and you want to be there. This is very important so you aren’t forcing yourself to attend.
2) Great People Referring: If people in the group are nice and trying to help refer each other new business opportunities this is a great thing. I would rather have a group of 5 people who refer me business that 50 people who don’t want me there.
3) A nice venue: Got to have a great breakfast and a great place to have it!
4) A good mixture of business types: Everyone is quite a cross industry group bringing different skills and contacts. This works well.
5) No Pressure and Take Your Time: This one is quite important to me, there is no pressure on you to bring referrals, invite people along and all that type of thing. You can come and go as you please and make it work for you.
There are way more reasons than this and I think that is exactly the case – a Networking Group is a Group of people. If you have awesome people together then awesome things happen and it’s as simple as that.
My advice? If you are in a great networking group – keep working at it and make it greater. If you are looking for one, visit Google and search for Networking Groups. You can find a great one to suit you (of course I am biased to 4Networking – so come visit us there too!).
Thank you for the kind read and happy days friends and here is to Awesome Networking Groups! Edward Zia – Marketing Mentor and Networking Lover.