Given a choice between a new networking club in your area which charges a membership fee and one which is free to join, which one would you choose?
It sounds like one of those ‘no brainer’ questions doesn’t it but actually, it’s very far from being as simple as that.
How will the free club work? Will you find that it often has more than one person in your trade or profession? How often will it meet? Will it have a structure and follow a tried and tested model? Doubtful.
There are also issues about commitment. As we have said in this blog on numerous occasions, the greatest success in networking comes when the club members have been together over a reasonably significant period of time and have really got to know and trust each other. One thing which a membership fee guarantees, or at least should, is commitment. You don’t buy a new laptop, tablet or smart phone and then leave it in the box do you? If on the other hand you were given one as a free gift, you would probably be inclined to treat it more casually and worry less about getting full value from an investment you hadn’t actually made.
Sometimes, informal, free networking groups have a hard core of reasonably regular attendees, supplemented at each meeting by new people trying the club out. You can often find that the regulars are only really interested in getting to know the ‘first timers’ and are less likely to make the effort to work with the ‘faces’ they have already seen. Contrast that with the referral based, exclusive membership clubs where achievement stems from seeking referral opportunities for and exchanging contacts with the people around the table. When other people come along and join they will be part of the way the club works; if they don’t join then they can’t keep coming. The focus is not diluted.
Over the course of a membership period, the cost is likely to pale into insignificance compared to the value of the business or contacts gained. Whilst other types of club may well provide some results and be worth joining, in order to get the best return, you will need the benefit of the long term business relationships which a fee based club can provide.
We actually have a member who runs successful free networking groups but has chosen to become a paid up member of not one but two of our clubs. We think this speaks for itself.