A recent survey on LinkedIn determined that 31% of those polled thought that networking groups or clubs were “moderately effective”. This lead to a contact deciding not to invest in any groups. This post opens the discussion on why groups have a bad name, why only 4% find groups “very” effective and what group leaders can do to retain or attract members.
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Why do groups get a bad name?
The commitment and quality of members was cited as a reason in the debate. This may be true yet the leadership are the key players. Not just the leadership around the table. The quality of the learning and development is vital. If the programme is aimed towards helping the group to grow, it should be complimented by developing ways to improve the results of the membership.
If the programme is not focused on helping members achieve a return on their investment they are unlikely to renew. They will certainly not be speaking about the group in glowing terms. This might explain why a third of those polled thought groups were moderately effective. They might not even have been group members. This highlights the power of word of mouth. Good or bad it spreads quickly.
Only 4% think groups are “very” effective
If members are not finding their commitments are being rewarded they will be happy to say that when a renewal fee is due. So it makes sense to engage them all the way through their membership. This can be achieved if the leaders use case studies of successful members as a benchmark.
Those not receiving the benefits that successful members enjoy need help with development before they are ready to promote a group. Often it’s the other way around. People are often asked to promote a group and told “it’s for your benefit”. They will be unhappy if they haven’t received the results they expected when they joined.
What can group leaders can do to retain or attract members?
The best thing they can do is ask the current members what they think about the group. If they are not positive about being proactive an anonymous survey may encourage them to reveal why. It should be anonymous if you want real feedback. Don’t worry about who is saying what. Look at the results dispassionately.
Strengths, weaknesses and trends will emerge. These can be addressed and then, and only then, can the feedback be used to attract new members. Feedback can be used as a tool to find out what the members really think. It should never be used to single people out. If there is a real problem with an individual the offer to renew their membership doesn’t have to be made. Discretion is the name of the game.
Wrap up: Groups are all different shapes and sizes and there is a proliferation of new ones springing up online and offline. There is something for everyone yet it’s important to understand what the benefit of joining will be.
Top Tip: Visiting lots of groups is unlikely to result in an avalanche of introductions or sales. Even if your product or service is something that “everyone needs” there is no guarantee that they will be ready to “buy” you. However, it is a good way to find out where you feel most comfortable.