Often we are no more than three persons away from meeting THAT individual who can change our lives forever. We've heard the stories, a chance meeting somewhere strange, an encounter that wasn't supposed to happen, or even that mutual acquaintance who may be completely oblivious about their hidden superpower that has a positive impact on your business endeavors.
Or you may fall into the other category of people who have paid memberships to multiple business networking groups but are really unsure about the purpose. The good news is that not all of these operate the same but, like other aspects of your biz, you want for this to be an investment that will pay off. Meaning that sometimes a free membership may pay off in little time or you may want to take advantage of trial membership if finances are tight at the moment. Here are some other things worth considering...
What are You REALLY Looking For?
A lot of us introverts get drawn in by the appeal of meeting new people and maybe even feel that if we're paying for the privilege, it may snap us out of our somewhat antisocial behaviors. Yeah...well, it doesn't always work out that way, even if we manage to light discussion boards on fire with an invigorating conversation. While Zoom meetings are the main alternative to face-to-face meetings, the pandemic has affected how we converse compared to live sessions.
If the expansion of a social network is a realistic goal, joining a couple of groups can be essential if both parties have active social media accounts. Then you should look at common ground. Are you part of a niche industry that has a boy's club mentality or history? Often careers in entertainment, law, and medicine often benefit from camaraderie shared by women who aren't looking to slash another's throat professionally.
Sometimes larger or more established organizations are looking to break down barriers between the genders since we humans have something worthy to contribute to the world. Older organizations can also be beneficial in career training, discounts on everyday services, or even offer scholarships to newbies and students. Personally, I'm wary of networking organizations that charge for lip service.
All Show and Nothing Else
If you have Facebook and identify as a woman, chances are superstrong you've been inundated with invites to join women's networking groups, including those targeted to persons of color. While visuals and snappy post copy may trigger you to pull out your credit card, you may want to hold off. It takes little effort to start one of these groups and as a consumer, getting something of value in return shouldn't be a hard thing to ask for.
For example, I joined an entity that called itself something like the Freelancing University. Back when I thought I wanted to be a general virtual assistant, this place was connected to everything related to the profession. However, upon visiting their site, all they encouraged was learning "packages" that ran into the hundreds of dollars. The instructors had no special credentials or even a college degree. If you've worked in clerical support for a minute, it's fair to say there's little that couldn't be found online for free.
Anyway, upon registering to see their weekly newsletter, I got random job offers in my spam box. Oh, the titles...so enticing yet so full of BS. Someone wanted to pay me $60K for doing simple data entry at home in 2018. Another wanted my half-done basic accounting skills to work for a
large huge finance company in my area. When I clicked on a link out of morbid curiosity, I got a dead link page and this has happened more than once.
So in short, my recommendation would be to diversify between organizations that are established and maybe one or two active micro-niche entities. An example of the latter would be Black Women in Animation or a group for food workers that specialize in certain diets. Also, don't forget about sites like Meetup or social networking groups that charge no or low cost to exchange information every few days.