Many people decide to start a networking group in order to benefit their own business.  After all what better way to promote your business than hosting a regular meeting for 30-40 people?

Some people also start up a group because there’s nothing else in the area or for their particular industry.

However, while there are obvious benefits – there are also fairly obvious things to consider.

Running a networking group takes time – if you’re going to run a successful group then you need to put a lot of effort into making it work – not just for your own benefit but more importantly for the benefit of those who attend.  Time that might be better spent on your own core business.

Even a simple, low maintenance group – needs to have the event posted, someone to run it, keep people informed, answer queries, recruit new members.

It takes money – whether or not you charge for your event – every networking group has a cost associated with it.  You’ll probably set up a website for your group, advertise it locally and perhaps nationally, have leaflets printed up, business cards, pay for the venue, refreshments, banners, labels, admin – plus the cost of your time in running the group.

It takes commitment.  Whether or not you run it on your own or with other people, you need to be committed to the group for the long-term.  You’ll need to be there every week or every month, you need to fit it in around your main business.

Make it work.  If you’re running it as a business in it’s own right – either alongside your own business, as a franchise or it is your main business, then run it as such.  Set goals, have targets, know what you want or need to get from it in order for it to work for you.

Networking is incredibly popular and there’s a new networking group starting up every week.  Equally, there are groups which close down on a regular basis.  Either the originator has moved on, their circumstances have changed, they realise they’re not getting as much benefit from it as they expected or they simply don’t have the time or energy for the group.

Do you run a group or have your run groups?  What are your tips for running a successful group?