Then again, it may not. It’s a lot of work, man. The process begins with a bunch of meetings with like-minded professionals that you like and respect. You continue to meet and brainstorm about the vision of the group, guiding principles, the process, people, logistics, timing, frequency, guidelines, financials, scheduling, and all kinds of other strategy and planning points that will make your head spin. But if you truly like collaborating with people on a regular basis to talk about work, life, and growing something from nothing, consider starting a networking group.
I’m in the planning stages of starting a group now which is why this is top of mind. Here are some of the questions I’m in the midst of discussing to get the whole thing started. They might help you get started, too.
1. What will the networking group look like?
How long will each meeting be? Two hours? Five minutes? (Kidding.) How often will the group meet? Every month, every six weeks, quarterly? Is the meeting in the morning or evening? Will there be a lot of people or just a few select attendees? Will there be visitors? Will people be invited back? Will the format be structured table groups focused on exchanging referrals or will attendees be encouraged to simply meet people on the spot? Will there be a speaker? A Master of Ceremonies (emcee)? Host? Ring leader? Commander in Chief? Fishing boat Captain?
2. What are the rules of engagement?
Rule number one: Make some rules. If you have well thought-out rules to address problems before they become problems, you’re ahead of the game. For example, if one of your rules is cash only when paying at the door, you make the whole “do you take checks” thing go away. Also, payment and cash flow won’t be an issue. You might also consider rules about attendance, lateness, behavior, profile of attendees, certain industries or professions, years in business, background, body of work, favorite nursery rhyme, etc. What is the process when someone breaks the rules? All of this gets back to the earlier point: What will the networking group look like?
3. Where should the event be held?
Will it be at a hotel? Conference center? Assisted Living Community (some of them are very nice), restaurant, bar, country club, someone’s place of business? Should the meeting be held at the same place every time or should it vary from meeting to meeting?