An advertising expert I know was recently dismissed by a “women only” network. Not refused renewal of her annual membership, it was actually terminated long before falling due, by email. Could it get any worse?
This highlights one of the main concerns relating to “business networks”, the fact that there are unwritten or unpublished rules in some of them. This post will help you discover why rules are not made clear, what happened to “Celia” and what you can do to prevent being caught up in such embarrassing situations.
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Why are rules or commitments not made clear?
Group leaders often attract members by maligning their competition. Is this the road to ruin? Once you have said that the competition is “rubbish” or “expensive” or “has lots of rules” you had better not do the same. I suspect that is what happened in this case because all groups have rules. It’s just some make them clearer than others.
Those that are responsible for growing groups often resort to “sales spiel” and don’t make the commitments of membership clear. Members fall foul of them and the group suffers.
This often happens when leaders don’t want to put anyone off becoming a member. Especially if they have developed interest in the group by stating that we “are more relaxed than that other brand”. This is known as “push” marketing, so called because the tactics used “push” people into joining. Are the leaders are being “pushed” too?
What happened to Celia?
Celia received an email confirming her membership had been terminated. She wasn’t the only one. You would expect an escalating sequence of events before this course of action was taken. That wasn’t the case. I suppose everyone that leaves a group has the choice of being positive or negative. Indeed, Celia has been philosophical about the whole thing. The annoying part is not knowing what she did wrong – that all important feedback.
However, there was another email circulated to the group questioning the integrity of Celia. To add insult to injury no explanation was given and there was no right of reply, even after the regional office was approached. Is there an underlying problem? Does this protocol expose groups that are more concerned with growing their membership than supporting their members?
If you want avoid being cut off from those that are supporting you, find out what the commitments of membership actually are before you join. And if you have right to reply. Not that I’m suggesting Celia didn’t. I’m sure this is an isolated incident. Or is it?
What can you do to avoid the “crossfire?”
Groups that are not successful will lose members so there is even more of a requirement to add new ones – to prevent the income of the group leader declining. This is where the pressure on members to recruit can be unbearable. This is one of the reasons for the negative press that some groups get. Ask to meet the leader of a group that you are considering joining and (gently) ask anyone that leaves why they are leaving.
I should make it clear that these groups generate income when members join or renew, not because they have a great deal on bacon and eggs, coffee or wine. The owners of the groups make money when people pay their dues. So they should be supporting and advising their members. If they don’t, the members will find another group.
Wrap up; Not all groups are rigid even if they have a structure. Most successful groups grow because of “pull” marketing, this is where people find the group attractive and want to join. They are then told about the commitments. Once they agree they can meet them they are invited to become a member.
For tips on which group to join click here for three things that you should consider before making a choice.
Top Tip: Those that are incentivised to grow the groups would be better off ensuring their members are happy. Happy members invite others and make visitors feel really welcome. Successful groups don’t need a sales spiel, just the facts.