Once business owners begin to see the benefits of networking, they often consider joining more than one group at a time. However, that opens up a whole set of questions around how many groups you can, and indeed should, join.
Ultimately, the answer to that is entirely personal but here are some things to consider when trying to make the decision.
How much time do you have?
Joining a networking group involves dedication a certain amount of time, not only to the group, but to its members as well. Most meetings last a minimum of 90 minutes, some up to two hours (and that’s not including the travel time associated with getting there and back).
Add to this the fact that you are (ideally) going to spend some time preparing your 60 seconds, and every so often, will have to do the same for your 10 minute presentation/spotlight. Equally, you should be doing regular 1-2-1 meetings with your fellow members, which can last anywhere between an hour and perhaps even two (again, excluding travel).
On average then, a fortnightly group is probably going to use up at least nine hours of your time per month. It might not sound like a lot, but that’s the equivalent of a working day each month. If you start attending two or three groups, that quickly means you’re losing a lot of time.
How much is it going to cost?
Many groups (not including BBG) will charge a large joining fee, followed by an additional subsidy per month, or per meeting, to cover the associated costs. These upfront costs can easily be factored in, and you’ll quickly be able to ascertain whether you, or your business, can afford these overheads.
However, you will also need to consider how much revenue you are potentially losing out on as a result of being at these various meetings. If you’re in a meeting, you’re not in the office, and therefore not working. Admittedly, all things being equal, you will be generating potential business (though this can take time) so it will ultimately be worth it. But, do you need to be a member of three groups to do that? Is it overkill?
How many referrals can you provide?
Unless you have an absolutely huge network, the chances are you’re not going to come in to contact with a lot of people who need a particular service. Therefore, if you get a referral for an accountant, you’re going to be stuck trying to decide which accountant to pass the business to. All your groups, and their members, deserve your loyalty, after all.
Of course, that’s not to say that you have to refer to someone simply because they are in your group; however, you do need to be careful how you approach this to ensure you are not potentially damaging relationships with other members.
It’s about quality, not quantity
At the end of the day, the key thing to consider is the quality of the networking you are doing, not the quantity. If you can manage the time and financial costs of multiple groups, and you can ensure that you are contributing to each one effectively, then brilliant. That’s your choice (though some organisations will request you do not join more than two groups at a time), but do consider which, if any, offer you better return for your investment.
There is no point being a member of three, if only one actually gives you any return.