Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Know When to Fold'em

As the old Kenny Rogers song goes, "You've got to know when to hold'em/ Know when to fold'em". What holds true for the Gambler also holds true for the Networker. A comment from my good friend Jacki Hollywood Brown on Sunday's post asks:
So what if you've attended for ages and you're getting nothing out of the networking group, you have no excuses for not going. How do you know whether or not the group is for you? What factors determine whether or not to stop attending one networking group and start attending another?
This is a very important question. After all, we do have our overarching goals we are trying to accomplish through networking and sometimes those goals can take some time to accomplish.  So, how do we tell the difference between success delayed and mission impossible? To help out, let's ask some questions about the groups to which we belong.  This is probably something you should do about once a year or so, just to make sure that you aren't expending your time and effort in a venue that is unlikely to help you reach your goals.
  1. Why did you join this group? Was it to meet a particular person or group? Are they colleagues? Potential clients? Potential ambassadors?
  2. Does your original reason still hold? Have you changed target markets? Changed to a new business or even a new business model?
  3. Has the group changed? Are different people or even different groups now showing up at the events? Would they make good connections for you?
  4. Have you given the group enough time? Realistically, how long should it take to accomplish your goals? Add 50% more, just in case your estimate is off.
  5. Have you served the group? Have you helped run events? Have you been an officer? Have you been a disciple with no expectation of return? How many members have you met for a one-to-one meeting?
  6. Have you asked advice from the current office holders? Have you explained your goals? What did they say you should do?
If, after answering all of these questions, it still appears that you've grown beyond the group. It's time to part ways amicably. The good thing about doing the above assessment, though, is that you will already have a foundation to help you select any new group that might meet your needs.  Just remember that networking does take time and a willingness to serve without expectation of return. Be careful that you don't give up all of the benefits that you might have accrued without thoroughly examining every aspect of the relationship between you and the group.

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