How Many is Too Many?

Many entrepreneurs strategically use professional, industry and business group involvement to market their services, network and communicate their brand. Such groups offer varying amounts of opportunities for learning, professional development, networking, volunteering and … even socializing.

They know that to maximize their ROI from these groups, they must go beyond simply joining them. They must attend events regularly, volunteer with teams or committees, donate their services where possible and otherwise contribute to the overall success of the group. And that investment involves annual membership dues, event costs, mileage/parking and large amounts of time.

And I’ve done exactly that for much of Effective Training & Communication’s 25-year history. A major portion of my marketing budget and effort went into my involvement in several different groups over time. Each one related to a specific aspect of my business – my work in training, coaching, presentations, marketing and a focus on small businesses and entrepreneurs.

So, how many groups is too many? That answer ultimately depends on the return we get from our time and money. I could potentially attend a breakfast meeting with group A, a lunch meeting with group B and a dinner meeting or after hours event with group C … all in the same day. So, two years ago, I began analyzing the ROI of each of the seven group I belonged to by asking these questions:

  • Am I getting incremental learning value from the various event speakers and programs?
  • Am I meeting new people that I would only have met through this group?
  • Have I developed any mutually beneficial business relationships from people I only met at this group?
  • Have I gotten business inquires or referrals from other group members?
  • And, most importantly, have I gotten billable business from them?

If a group got mostly ‘no’ answers, I didn’t renew my membership, deciding I could always attend a specific event as a non-member with a slightly higher cost. I went from seven groups down to three and increased my level of participation in those that did provide me a positive ROI. That process also provided the motivation for me to visit new groups and begin assessing their potential ROI.

So, how many groups is too many for your business? That depends on your specific objectives and needs. But do ask the above questions of those groups, even if you’ve belonged to them for years. This analysis will help you gain clarity and focus … it certainly worked for me.