Mentoring – Networking: How to benefit from a group meeting

I was asked this week if I could suggest ideas to revitalise a couple of networking groups that had fallen on hard times. This is a polite of saying that members were no longer turning up to the events.

As a mentor, you often encourage people to “get out there and mingle”. But how? And what is the point of networking, if you are just looking for a vital lead when everyone else is probably doing the same?

Here’s the rub. To summarise a talk from social media expert, Don Crowther, when you put yourself in front of others, virtually or physically, you are often “tested” or examined on three keys issues. You have to show that you are: –

  • Knowledgeable – provide sound content
  • Reliable
  • Trustworthy

More often than not, a successful member of a networking group shows these attributes by giving of themselves. They are not overtly looking to be rewarded for their presence. They are not seeking to receive, but to contribute and to help.

Back to the failing networking groups, the remaining rumps analysed their downturns. What was obvious was that the members had been turning up, mainly to latch on to an immediate and direct benefit. “OK, who was going to give me a lead?” was the unwritten motto of a session.

And the result? A triumph for “much said and little achieved”.

I should declare that I am a regular at one of these groups. In parallel, I should admit that I was initially guilty of the crimes listed above. For the record, I have now suggested that we move the meetings to an alternative location each month.

Postscript: The next set of meetings will be held “off-site”, where people will be  forced to mingle with each other and to interact. There goes our comfort zone, but that is what networking is all about.

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