Business Networking Groups: Clear the Clutter of Your Memberships

clear the clutter FBYour professional memberships, group participation and online activities in forums and programs can provide you with support, education and opportunities to meet potential clients and partners. 

They can also become overwhelming, draining, time and money wasters if you aren’t careful!   You need to be selective and strategic – not only will this save you money and time, but it will also save your sanity, too!

Take a moment to make a list of the various organizations that you belong to and attend.  Remember, just because you don’t pay “dues” or “membership fees” doesn’t mean it’s “free.”  Include the following types of groups:

  • Professional associations
  • Networking groups
  • Women’s lunch meetings
  • Chambers of commerce
  • Service organizations (like Rotary, Kiwanis)
  • Facebook Groups
  • LinkedIn Discussion Groups
  • Internet Forums
  • Online Programs and Membership Sites

Each of these groups represents an investment of your time, money and energy, so be sure to evaluate each one in terms of how they support your business and personal goals.  Select your top 3-5 groups where you feel you can both contribute and benefit the most by participating.  You only have 24 hours each day to invest as you choose, so choose wisely!  

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  1. It’s true that we need to spend time with just the groups that serve our needs the best. This may vary from time to time and so it is good to evaluate them regularly.

    • Beth — I like to evaluate my networking activities and my memberships yearly — for the simple reason that people, groups, and my business and goals change over time. It’s always good to make sure it’s still a good match!

  2. I agree with what you are saying. Getting into some groups etc is great for information and meeting people but too many could be too time consuming. Also, if groups aren’t adding value it would be a waste of money. Pick and choose wisely.

    • Mike — too much of a good thing is simply too much of a good thing, right? I know you are a very busy guy who also values time with his family, but I’ve seen how you wisely spend your time at the “right” events and venues for you and your business! Well done!

  3. Oh yes, I’m getting much more strategic in my networking groups. I think the face-to-face ones are important, so people know there is a real person, but as you say — there’s a huge time commitment involved in all of them…so choose wisely!

    • Nothing beats the connection you can make with someone face-to-face, Jackie!

      Being strategic allows you to honor your business goals and your personal style as well as those of the people you interact with. It’s a win-win!

  4. Such a good reminder, Cathy. We women tend to think we can be all things to all people, but we can’t. My past experience tells me that most networking groups are a waste of time and money, so we need to really evaluate if it’s good for business, or just a social activity.

    • Carol,

      There seem to be an infinite number of ways that we can “waste time” with what we call “networking”, right? Different groups serve different purposes — I always tell my clients and my audiences when I speak that it’s ok to have groups for socializing — just don’t try to label it as a business networking activity.

  5. Great article, as always! You explained thoroughly the practicality of selecting business network groups which would help an individual both in the business and personal goals.

  6. Glad this post includes all types of groups. I made an assessment and eliminated a few on-line and in person based on time spent and results. Since doing this, I ammaking better use of my time.

  7. Such a timely article for me Cathy, as I’ve been thinking just that! When I started to feel a little overwhelmed, I knew it was time to cut back on some of my commitments. Thanks for sharing.

    • Heather — there are always so many choices out there and sometimes you have to say no to good ones. When I first started networking I used to attend all events within a 50 mile radius of where I lived — networking was a full time job! Then I got a moment of clarity and realized that I wasn’t doing anyone any favors and pared down to just the most productive, positive ones.

      Best of luck in your efforts!

  8. Lori Hardegree says:

    Excellent advice! It’s easy to get caught up in joining groups online but if you aren’t going to show up and be an active member, what benefit do you expect to get from it? A strategic approach is definitely the way to go!

    • Lori — Active member is the key! I know so many folks who join a group and then never participate — and then they complain about lack of results. Hmmmmmm . . .

      As an introvert, I do love online networking. Combine this with my love of helping others, it is often easy for me to spend way too much time in these forums.

  9. I recently signed up for a few new online groups and while I thought they would be great for helping me launch a new project, I have actually found they are just real time suckers. I do get some degree of ROI but probably not enough to continue to justify my commitment.

    • Beth — Yes, some online groups really are a drain on your time! It takes a lot of time and effort to run a successful online group — and to attract and interact with the folks who are the ideal fit as well.

      I love that you bring up ROI — it’s always important to evaluate how we spend our time and the return on that investment.

  10. This is great advice. So often we over extend ourselves by trying to partake in EVERYTHING. Sure, when you sign up it seems like a great idea… Something you can be really enthusiastic about. Reality is they can be drain! You hit the nail on the head. Certain professional organizations “look good” to be a part of, but smaller things like Facebook groups, etc. I know I could lay off. Thank you!

  11. This post came at the perfect time. I am doing a very similar thing in my business. Looking through the forums I am part of and the membership programs. Looking at which ones serve me and which ones are taking up time.

    My next job is to unsubscribe to all those newsletters that clog up my inbox.

  12. Let’s not forget all of our “industry leaders” who we subscribe to their newsletters. I used to create a folder and move them there for “later”. Then I created a filter and had the go directly into that folder for later… then I wised up and only kept the ones that I actually read. Seriously? LOL