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Should I Join a Networking Group?

I recently joined a networking referral group. Why? Because I went to an awesome seminar that made me realize that if I didn’t get out of my comfort zone, nothing was going to change. Was I nervous? You bet. But I went. I dressed up in my Barbie clothes and headed out the door. I like to call them my Barbie clothes because when you work at home it is so easy to stay in pajamas till noon.

I walked in the door and, of course, the person that invited me was nowhere to be seen. One of the members came over and told me that Sandra was going to be late but welcome to the group, find a seat, and if you like, order from the menu. This was being held at a restaurant so at least I could consider easing my fear with food!

I took a seat and waited to see what this was all about. As it turned out, everyone in the group (twenty) talked a little about what they did and they all seemed to make a good group. Only one trade is allowed and I was coming in as the interior designer. There was already an architect/draftsman, a contractor, an outdoor landscaper, and a residential designer for plans and permits. I was feeling pretty comfortable knowing that these tradespeople had something in common with me. We all loved design, one way or another. Other fields included insurance-minded companies, investment companies, lawyers, chiropractors, hairstylists, etc.

After the meeting, I met with the coordinator to find out the particulars. Not too expensive but a real commitment. Once a week I had to commit to a meeting. Thank goodness it was at noon! “We always need to eat” became a real statement! So on Thursdays, I now have a date at the restaurant in town.

I also had to make the effort to have a one-on-one with each person in the group. Of course. How would you know that you would want to refer someone if you didn’t really get to know them? So I did what I was suppose to do. And surprise ... these are awesome business people all needing the same thing. To meet other professional business people that relate, in their same field, working as a team. I have now met with three of the members that are businesses that compliment what I do, and I have to say, I am very impressed by the width and scope of the work that each one does. It will be a pleasure to recommend them to my clients and for others, they will get to cut their teeth on my house, my hair, my website, etc. 

If we as business people don’t reach out to others, how are we suppose to grow? Just like with the Internet, if its just not your thing ... find someone that can help you. By joining a local networking group, not only do you get the computer specialist, but maybe even the writer!