As an expert in your field, you cannot afford to be haphazard when choosing what networking groups to join. Why, because your potential to improve and be recognised in your industry relies heavily in your excellent ability to know which groups to join, and which ones are mere bogus group who will not help you achieve your full potential.
What are the things to consider before plunging your efforts into a networking group you find?
The group’s reliability factor
How comfortable would you feel with the members of the group and with the organisation’s policies and standards? Remember, you will be recommending these people to family, friends and business associates. Make sure they are a solid business group. Trust and reliability of ALL members is extremely important.
Are you going to be one of many – or the go-to expert in the field?
Does the networking group have an opening for someone in your field? This may narrow your choices quickly if you are in a field that is commonly represented in these organisations. Some groups actually don’t place limitations on membership based on one per field. Think carefully about this before you join. If you are in a field where there will likely be multiple members from your field, you will need extremely strong interpersonal skills to overcome the hurdle this could create without also creating stress between members. The discipline in groups that ignore this stricture is also usually lower than the more narrowly regulated groups.
The group’s credibility
Is this group respected and well-known in the industry? Or are they known to be a group focusing only on appearances (meeting just for the sake of meeting) and collecting membership fees among its members? You wouldn’t want to be victimized by fly-by-night or unreliable networking groups which do not help you meet your objectives for joining.
How does the group handle marketing?
Observe how this networking group promotes its members, its activities and its goals. If you see them completely lacking, then maybe it’s something really worth thinking twice over. You wouldn’t want to get involved in a group which is nearly useless, or will not push you in the direction you first planned.
Possible avenues for self-improvement
This is not really a major consideration for all, but if you want to expand your knowledge and heighten your expertise, then find out first if the networking group you plan to join will provide this. Available training is an important issue. Even if you are experienced in networking, it is a significant indicator of the likely success of an organisation.