Being involved heavily in a networking group, I’m noticing that people who are networking want more than to just exchange business cards. The growing popularity of mastermind groups is testament to that. And several business support groups are just getting off the ground in Grand Rapids (including GRAPE’s July 11 event). I think its a healthy development. By getting business advice at the same time one is getting to know their neighbor better. It creates stronger relationships and greater business success.

That being said, such relationships require participants to adhere to commitment and reciprocity. Simply put, relationships cannot grow if there is no commitment among participants to meet regularly. And without that, a reluctance to share inevitably grows. Committed participation facilitates trust- which is essential if valued business advice is to be shared.

Likewise, reciprocity (in advice, leads, help, etc) is essential. All too often I see individuals come to networking events with the focus on “getting” something from networking. But the best way to do that is to be a giver (and be a regular attender- as socializing is a form of giving as well). Yes, its cliche but its also very true as I’ve seen throughout my networking experience.

The best thing about business support groups is that you never know what you’ll come away with. Perhaps a new acquaintance, or new business advice you hadn’t considered, or a new opportunity to help someone (which just might lead to a whole new career- its happened!).

Blog post by John M Potter