Steps to Networking – Step 57: Organized Networking Groups

Written By Rick Frishman Published April 12th, 2010


“We all have these places where shy humiliations gambol on sunny afternoons.” Poet W.H. Auden

Whenever people congregate, networking opportunities exist. Therefore, most good networkers join groups where they can make new contacts and incorporate them into their networks. Groups are ideal for networking because they bring together like-minded individuals who frequently share common backgrounds, interests and goals. Through groups, networkers can expand their reach and make connections with those it might otherwise take them considerably longer to meet. As a result, many accomplished networkers concentrate the bulk of their networking efforts on groups.

Originally, many of the groups where people now network were not organized to facilitate networking. However, networking became such an integral part of their members’ interactions that many of them added networking sessions or events as a significant part of their programming. Usually, these groups were started to promote business, social, community, religious, charitable or other endeavors. Such groups can include trade associations to your Wednesday night card game, your bowling team as well as business, social, religious, community, charitable and service organizations. They also can include youth, recreational and athletic teams, fraternities, sororities and alumni organizations.

Trade and industry associations provide outstanding networking opportunities. They were founded to promote the interests of specific industries and their members. A key mission of these associations is to lobby for legislation that will help the industry and defeat proposals that might do it harm. Trade associations also provide forums for the education and welfare of its members and, at many of these forums, association members meet fellow members, exhibit their wares, discuss mutual problems and provide help for one another via networking. Although trade and industry associations were not founded as networking organizations, they have evolved into networking Meccas.

In addition to trade associations, other major networking organizations include business organizations such as Chambers of Commerce, IBI Global, Inc., Consulting Alliance (the Entrepreneual Edge) and Shared Vision Network. Service organizations — which include the Masons, Kiwanis, Elks, Lions and Rotary Clubs and Soroptimists — also provide ideal venues for networking.

Recently, groups have been popping up everywhere that exist primarily to help their members network; we call these organized networking groups or network focused groups. Large network focused groups include national organizations such as eWomenNetwork, LeTip International, Inc. BNI International (2,700 chapters internationally) and Ali Lassen’s Leads Club (5,500 members, 400 chapters) to name just a few. These organizations have local chapters and also hold national meetings, conventions and training sessions.

In addition, numerous local networking groups operate throughout the country. Some of these groups may be affiliated with national, state or other local organizations, but many are simply single units that were created to facilitate the building of relationships on a wide range of interests. Besides those dedicated to business, other networking groups focus on interests that range from dating to promoting book sales.

Network groups require an investment of time and money, but most members consider them to be wise investments in themselves.

Group Profiles

Since so many organized networking groups exist, it’s simply impossible to describe them all. Therefore, we selected five network-focused groups to provide a sampling of the range of networking groups, their approaches and how they operate. In profiling these groups, our intention was to provide a representative cross section of networking groups to illustrate what groups can offer and how they operate.

One or more of these groups, or your own version of them, may be ideal for you for someone you know. The groups profiled are:

• Network Associates, Inc.
• Caterina Rando’s Circle of Eight
• The Hubbel Group
• AmSpirit Business Connections and
• eWomenNetwork.

(Excerpted from NETWORKING MAGIC: Making Connections That Will Change Your Life By Rick Frishman and Jill Lublin With Mark Steisel)

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