Column: In networking groups, just attending isn't enough
Photo by stock.xchng user Eastop
Now for the big question:
What do they get out of it?
Before you say anything about the money you pay for membership or to attend the events, let me just stop you right there. Most of the time, that money is just about enough to support the continued activities of the group or to pay for the lunch you ate while the presenter of the week was speaking. What I want to know is how are you making that group better?
Let me break it to you. If you are merely paying your dues and showing up for the events, you are largely replaceable. There are any number of other members, both current and future, who can do the exact same thing. If you stopped showing up, chances are, no one would even notice. So, how are you going to make yourself truly memorable?
Volunteer to help host an event. If you are so inclined, offer to speak. Take part in the planning. Become an officer for the group. Talk to the event planners and offer to take photos. Share your expertise. Roll up your sleeves and get to work. In general, follow The Reluctant Networker's Rule for joining groups: Only join if you have something to offer.
Those who serve the group are remembered. Those who spend their time and effort in addition to their money are the ones who are remarked upon.
Guess what else? The people you meet while serving the organization are also going to be top-notch networkers and will be the ones most able to help you in the future.
And are they more likely to help someone who's just attending or someone who's participating?