Here's How To Decide Which Networking Groups to Renew in 2023
I’m always struck by how quickly the end of the year seems to sneak up on us. The days get shorter, the weather gets colder, and before we know it—the holiday season is over. For many of us, this brief window of time between Thanksgiving and the December holidays is the last chance to make any big preparations for 2023.
And for me, a significant part of that preparation involves a reflection and reassessment of the networking groups I’ve been associated with in the past year. A new year marks the perfect opportunity to either recommit or walk away from a networking group.
Here are some questions to consider when deciding which groups are worth your time and investment for another year.
What are the benefits of your current networking groups?
When reassessing a group, I compare my networking activities and budget against the group’s benefits and my own personal return on investment from the last year. For these groups, an ROI doesn’t always have to come down to hard numbers. I also examine a group’s soft benefits, such as:
Access to more professional service/expert connections to refer clients to
Personal or professional development opportunities
Members who motivate me and hold me accountable for my business goals
The strength of my social bonds with group members (this can be very important for solopreneurs, especially)
Any extra perks unique to the networking group
What does the future of the group look like?
Often, we can intuitively recognize when a networking group has the potential to grow and transform into something truly great. Conversely, we can see when a group runs the risk of becoming stagnant. I like to consider a few questions:
Are new members regularly coming into the group?
Are members engaging in thoughtful discussions and sharing valuable contacts, strategies, and opportunities?
Or has the overall energy and enthusiasm within the group started to wane?
Perhaps key members have recently decided to leave the group or are simply not contributing anything of value anymore. Regardless, I would consider discussing avenues of growth and improvement with the group's facilitators before deciding to leave.
Does the group serve your specific business goals?
Even if your networking group is fantastic on paper, it may not be the right fit for you specifically. Do not feel obligated to stay with a networking group if it doesn’t match your schedule, budget, or business goals.
Ask yourself if the time you invested in your group in the past year has been adequately productive. Are you receiving good business from your association with the group? Or are the referrals not a great fit? What’s the quality of the work you’re getting? If the meetings are in person, are they inconvenient for you?
And most importantly, do you foresee the group helping you accomplish your goals for 2023? The new year may be the perfect time to determine whether your group’s ROI has run its course. If so, make plans to politely exit with gratitude and search for something that aligns more with your current goals.
Feeling conflicted? Don’t rush your decision to leave.
Bear in mind that one year in any group is rarely enough time to decide whether to leave. Networking groups require members to put in time and effort, often over the course of years. Otherwise, you’re likely not going to be able to recognize the group’s true value.
Be consistent, put in the work, follow up, be responsive, be a giver, and look for opportunities to give and help. The business will follow from there. If you go into your group only looking for opportunities to receive, you won’t be as successful. Members of your group will be able to recognize when your actions aren’t reciprocal. So, always remember that you only get out what you put in!