How do I choose what "business networking group" to join?


Rotary, Masons, Elks, BNI, LinkedIn Groups, Meetup Groups, Company of Friends, Cooltea, EYPN, NetParty, PowerMingle, Jaycees, First Tuesdays, Knowmentum . . ..

I don't have time to become and active member of them all -- and I can't for the life of me find anyone who has written a good analysis of the different organizational culture from the perspective of evaluating and choosing the "right one" for me.

Bottom line: I can't figure out which one to join.

How do I choose? What are the variables? What should drive the ROI evaluation?


asked Oct 29 '11 at 08:39
Joseph Barisonzi
12,141 points
  • It is a mistake to think that it is worth pursuing. If you can't find the right one by meeting the people and enjoying it then you are in it for the wrong reasons anyway. This question is akin to "which fraternity should I join?" It is probably meaningless. In any of the situations you make things happen. However, now that i reflect on some of your other posts - your business seems to be that of "consultant" - so if you are looking for a fertile field to get more business maybe one of these is a good choice - but the motives seems insincere relative to what the organizations would desire – Tim J 11 years ago
  • @Tim Thank you for your feedback. I enjoying meeting people at many. That is an important but insufficient sole determinant. I am proud of my role as a "consultant" -- and I am proud to have something valuable to provide my clients. Many of the organizations I mentioned not only encourage -- and were formed to facilitate business networking. that is not an insincere motive related to what the organization desires-- that is the very purpose. That is why the question was seeking a "business networking group" – Joseph Barisonzi 11 years ago

4 Answers


How do I choose what “business networking group” to join?
How do I choose? What are the variables? What should drive the ROI evaluation?

What are your Goals for your Networking? What do you want to achieve? If you cannot answer these you may well have a tough time choosing.

Here are a few tips for choosing a group.
1. Time and Location - you have to make sure it fits your schedule.
2. Know What you want from the group - support, prospects, referrals, every group is different. If you are looking for Business Referrals you might want to consider joining a closed contact group, for support a mastermind group, for prospects a chamber or association, and for connections and relationships that give back to the community also, service groups like Rotary.
3. Do some research. What are the rules, how long have they been around, how can you get involved, what are the fees, is there exclusivity for your profession.
4. Visit several groups, decide if you like the energy and the people. Ask them questions, like how long have they been members, have they been successful, ask to be introduced to others in the room.
5. Check with others in your personal network and find out where they are networking and ask if you can be their guest.
6. If you join, get involved! Don't join and wait for something to happen, make it happen.

No Richard Branson does not go to those groups listed. But he does indeed have a powerful network. When he was starting out, he too networked and connected, the most powerful and valuable item that Richard Branson or any other person owns is their Network. Develop in when you don't need it, and it will be there when you do.

answered Nov 4 '11 at 20:11
Hazel Walker
31 points


None of the above. You think Richard Branson goes to those things? Pshaw. Maybe as a paid speaker!

Make your own. Keep a list of your industry peers that you know in your hometown. Pick a date and email them once a month inviting them to join you for dinner at a nice restaurant. I've found that if you have a list of about a dozen people, you'll get about six people who can actually make it on the arbitrary date you pick.

You'll find that even if you've only met them once or twice, inviting them to a group dinner of peers is not even remotely weird :)

How far you take it is up to you... I know people who have done this and gotten to monthly 50-person breakfasts, and others who carefully keep their group under 10.

answered Oct 29 '11 at 09:05
Joel Spolsky
13,482 points
  • Thank you for your answer. My question was not if-- but what variables to choose from the ones that are available. I am not interested in starting my own -- I am the leader of lots of "groups" -- I am interesting in joining and participating in one that currently exists. In this context I would like to be an engaged member. The question is _how_ to choose. Thanks! – Joseph Barisonzi 11 years ago


I would go with Joel's answer- none of the above. But that doesn't answer your actual question. So....

First divide the different groups into those where you can measure ROI and those where you can't. For example, no one joins the Rotary, Masons, Elks to get an ROI. If something does come from joining one of those groups- it's an un-measurable accident.

Second, list the rest of the groups.

  1. Which of those groups can you sell your product or service to, or use to sell your product or service?
  2. Which of those groups can provide advice or help in selling your product?

If you can only join a limited number of groups, decide whether 1. or 2. above is more important to you. Then look for restrictions or limits (on what you are allowed to do promotion wise) in each of the groups that remain in those categories. That should whittle things down to a manageable level.

answered Nov 3 '11 at 06:38
Gary E
12,510 points


I think being involved in:

  • One physical group dedicated to generating sales leads (BNI)
  • One physical group focused on community efforts (Rotary)
  • Couple online communities
  • One you craft of your top referrers and non-competing business partners

I was in BNI for a year but have since got involved in a group where people are more hand picked and there are no franchises or herbal supplement salesman ;) - Joel's recommendation of a dinner is excellent, that is also recommended in Keith Ferrazzi's book Never Eat Alone and I think that is great advice.

answered Nov 3 '11 at 13:37
Ryan Doom
5,472 points

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