Check It Out BEFORE You Join!Jul 04, 2023
Check It Out BEFORE You Join!
Take a Strategic approach to joining professional groups to Broaden Your Network
By Vern Schellenger
CEO Contacts Count
Time is our most valuable resource. Alan Weiss reminds us that we can always make another dollar, yet we can never make another minute.
So, before you join a professional group or organization to build your network, take some time up front to ensure that your membership will be worth your time and your money.
Here are some practical tips and questions to consider:
- Newsletters: Read several issues of the group’s newsletter. Do you see enough items that may be helpful to you?
- Meetings: Attend a couple of meetings as a guest. Do you like the flow and energy of the meetings? Do you feel welcome?
- Member Benefits: Talk to new members and board members. Ask why they joined and what they are getting out of their membership.
- Group Size: Scan the membership directory. Consider how many members are there. The bigger the better for networking, but it may be easier to move into leadership positions or gain visibility in other ways when you join a smaller group.
Next, consider your specific needs. These questions can help you assess if the group has potential value and is a good fit for you.
- Can I get excited about the group's mission? Do the leaders seem genuinely excited about their participation or are they playing "somebody has to do it?"
- Will its activities help me reach my networking goals?
- Are people in the group likely to provide me with valuable resources or information? Can I be a valuable resource to them?
- Are people in the group likely to need my product or service or to refer business to me?
- What do people say about the group? What's its reputation in my profession or community?
- What opportunities will the group offer me to help me connect with my peers and industry gurus in my field?
- Does the group set a good networking culture by encouraging people to introduce themselves and talk to each other about important business and career challenges?
- Does the group have special activities to help newcomers feel welcome and meet people?
- How easy is it to participate? How quickly could I move into a leadership role that would give me visibility, access to best practices, and introductions to people I’d like to know?
- What exactly could I contribute to this group to become visible?
- Are the programs “cutting edge?” Do the topics and speakers provide valuable professional growth? Will they offer best practices I can take back to my organization?
- What would my time commitment be? Can I make that commitment for at least one year?
As you check out the group, and you think through these questions, you will be able to weigh the value of joining against the time and money invested. Professional and industry groups are a valuable part of building a professional network. Being strategic about what groups you join will help you spend your networking time effectively.