Last week I attended two very different networking groups, and came to one conclusion: Finding a group that fits your personality is KEY!
The first group I met with meets every Tuesday at 10 a.m. In order to be a part of this group you have to agree to come to every meeting, but you are able to miss 3 every 6 months. Although I was startled at first to hear such a strict attendance policy it seems to make sense. The more the same people attend, the better the connections will be between the members of the group.
When I first walked in I noticed that everyone was standing around, chatting about their personal lives as well as their business lives. These people truly seemed to be friends outside of the group. Even as a newcomer, I felt welcomed in and greeted as though I had been coming there for years. It was an atmosphere where you would sit around, drink coffee and talk shop with your friends. I instantly felt at home.
Later that day I attending another networking group that had a completely different feel. Whereas the first group met in a church, this group met in a bar. They had reserved a section of the bar and had set up rows of chairs which didn’t provide any leg room. The audience stood around, uncomfortably making small talk with whoever happened to be sandwiched up next to them. Since it took place in a bar, most everyone had a drink in their hand and would constantly glance around as though they were looking for someone they knew to walk through the doors.
The entire thing felt like a singles mixer.
The panelists, emcee and director of the group stood at the front of the room huddled in a group and didn’t appear to want to chat with any of the audience members.
[ Related: Finding a networking group, by: Entrepreneur ]
When the presentation began the director would switch between saying a few sentences to making an inside joke with the emcee (think really bad best man speech that includes anecdotes from when they were little that no one else is privy to). Once the emcee started asking the panelists questions that the audience had tweeted in the shenanigans only continued. I kid you not, in the middle of a panelist’s answer, the emcee, bloody mary in hand, shouted to the audience that someone owed him a shot.
I walked out of there knowing that I had wasted my time and money.
I knew right then and there that a networking group that fits your personality is one of the most important things when deciding on a group of people you want to do business with. I fit in better with the coffee drinkers meeting in a quiet church early in the morning, more than I did the group that meets in a bar after work.
Now I’m not saying that the second group I went to is worthless, but for me I wouldn’t have gotten anything out of it because I didn’t feel as though I belonged. And as I said before, finding a group that fits your personality is KEY!