Steps to Networking – Step 63: Evaluating Networking Groups and Events

Written By Rick Frishman Published April 12th, 2010


“The success of each is dependent of the success of the other.” JOHN D. ROCKEFELLER, JR.

The number of networking groups and networking events to choose from is overwhelming. Each is unique and promises to deliver special benefits that you can’t possibly live without. Joining and attending all of them is impossible and even it you could join them all, it would bankrupt you. So you must be extremely selective.

Unfortunately, being selective isn’t so easy. It’s a complicated process that takes more than simply signing up with a group recommended by your most trusted buddies or the first group or event that appeals to you. A number of underlying factors complicate the evaluation process. They are as follows:

• As a rule, the benefits of networking groups increase in direct proportion to the regularity of your attendance. Maximum benefits usually flow when you become a fixture at group meetings and events. If you’re always there, you become a part of the in-group, the inner circle. You become privy the inner workings of the organization and its future plans. When you’re in the inner circle, people will think of you when they think about the group or its events. As a regular attendee, you can meet and build closer relationships with key organization members and nonmembers who come in contact with the group. Usually, your prominence in the organization increases with length and the degree of your involvement, as does your visibility. If you attend only every other meeting, chances are that you will reap fewer and less meaningful benefits than if you attend every meeting. If you drop by occasionally, expect occasional benefits.

• Networking groups are always in flux. Members come and go or attend irregularly, which changes the organization’s dynamic. As a result, the leadership and the group’s agenda also change. In addition, the objectives of groups can also shift with the success or failure of how the group’s projects and events are received. While an influx of new members can breathe life into a static, old group and get it moving in exciting, new directions, it can cast faithful, established members off to the side and out of the loop. Features that initially drew you to the group may no longer exist and it may feel like you belong to a different group than the one you thought you joined. Like people, organizations also bog down, become stale, tired and dated. Causes that were once vital and compelling are eclipsed by new and more pressing concerns, which may not interest or serve you. Overall, organizations can be of varying value to you at different times and it’s hard to predict when those times will occur.

• You can’t spread yourself too thin. If you try to attend too many group meetings and events, you’ll give few, if any, the time and attention they deserve. Most likely, you’ll end up wasting your valuable time and money. In addition, it will be physically exhausting and the energy you need for other endeavors will be sapped. It makes no sense to sign up and pay for an event and then sleep or sleep walk through the most important presentations. Finally, by spreading yourself so thinly, other group members might feel alienated if they get the impression that you’re not giving their pet group or event your full effort and attention.

• Finally, those who recommend groups and events, may have different agendas than you. They may be involved in a group to increase their business while you want to serve your community; they may want publicity while you want anonymity; they may want to socialize and get dates, while you may not be in the market. In addition, group members often work to enlist new blood to increase their own clout within the organization. They may fudge when they describe what you’re about to get into and when you join, you may find yourself smack-dab in the middle of a political brawl. Finally, groups that your best pals truly love may not be the best fit for you or the best use of your resources.

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

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