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8 Reasons You Should Join a Meetup Group Today

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How do you spend your time when you’re not at work? Do you look for ways to improve yourself, develop your skills or expand your network by attending talks, events and gatherings? What if I told you there was a way that you could, with a small time investment and the cost of a few cups of coffee a month, build a close-knit group of friends, develop new leadership skills, find a deeper purpose in life and grow more confident?

In recent years, the number of meetup groups and clubs that focus on personal development, entrepreneurship and self-improvement has exploded. In fact, a quick search on Meetup.com found 10,947 meetups focused on personal development, with over 3.2 million registered members. Most of these events are free or charge a small fee, while other, more formal clubs and groups charge anything from $5-6 per meeting to upwards of several thousand dollars per year for more exclusive members-only societies.

While meeting structure, club values and incentives for joining these groups vary greatly depending on what the focus is, there are certain benefits of joining a club that are typically universal across the wider network.

Here are 8 reasons you should join a club:

1. You immediately expand your network

This is perhaps the most obvious reason for joining a club. When you join a group of like-minded individuals that share your interest or passion in a certain topic, you are able to more quickly make a connection with them. At the same time, many of these individuals will come from diverse backgrounds and share a variety of other interests. In this way, you will expand your network and your sphere of influence to touch people in various industries, parts of the world, and socioeconomic backgrounds that you would never have interacted with before.

“Effective networking isn’t a result of luck – it requires hard work and persistence.” – Lewis Howes

2. You develop new skills

Most clubs that meet regularly tend to focus on developing skills and sharing ideas around a specific topic or area of interest. One great example of a club that focuses on developing skills around a specific area of interest is Toastmasters International, a club designed to teach and improve people’s ability to speak publicly. Other clubs that focus on certain areas of interest, such as various tech meetups in nearly every large city around the world, focus on developments in technology and software. No matter what your interest, chances are that there is a club that meets regularly that matches your specific topic.

3. You build self confidence and self esteem

Interacting with new people can often be a frustrating or nerve-racking experience. People that lack self confidence or high self esteem often find it a struggle to put themselves in situations that are outside of their comfort zones in this way. Fortunately, most clubs have club officials that are trained to recognise when someone is feeling uncomfortable and are able to support them in the introduction process.

4. You are given new opportunities

By joining a club, you not only have the ability to expand your own network and build your own skills, you can interact with people within the club on a variety of topics related to (and not related to) club business. Joining a club can lead to being given great opportunities to experience new things and build lasting, long-term relationships with new friends and business partners. You may visit a friend you’ve made in a club back in their home country, or you might meet your future girlfriend/boyfriend. You may even make a friendship the leads to a future business deal or career change.

5. You learn to manage your time more effectively

We are all busy. It has become a badge of honor to talk about how few hours of sleep we get per night, how long we work each week, or how ‘stressed’ we are about what we have going on. But learning to manage your time more effectively to do things you want to do is a sure way of improving your general outlook on life and making sure you work more efficiently when you do need to get stuff done. Joining a club makes you reassess your priorities and stresses the importance of planning ahead to ensure you make time for your extracurricular activities.

6. You learn to become a leader

Joining a club often comes with the opportunity to take on leadership roles. You may be asked to lead a meeting, train a group on a certain topic, or even become part of the club’s executive board. The longer you remain part of a club, the more you will be able to take on leadership roles and expand your skill set as someone that knows how to lead others.

“Learning networking basics is only a gateway to career growth and exploration.” – Tae Yoo

7. You build a support network

When you join a club, you effectively become a member of a type of fraternity/sorority. You learn the value of being able to rely on those around you for support. Not only that, you can count on others for understanding in times of stress. Likewise, you have the responsibility to give support to others within this close-knit network in times of need. By joining a club, you effectively build another support network you can rely upon which goes beyond your current support network of friends, colleagues and family.

8. You learn to give back by mentoring and providing advice

One of the most important reasons to join a club is because it gives you the chance to learn to give back by mentoring and providing advice to those in need. In many clubs that focus on skills-based learning, you are in a position to take on mentorship roles to help those less advanced than you.

The true value that comes from joining an international or local club with a specific interest or skill-based focus that meets regularly is that it helps support habit formation and the structure required to develop strong life-long skills. But without taking that first step into the unknown and attending that first meeting, you won’t know what to really expect. It’s with that in mind that I urge you to go out and pick a club to attend on a guest basis sometime in the next few weeks.

How do you best network? Comment below! 

McVal is the founder of We Write For Growth, a platform for businesses to connect with talented writers and researchers and growth hackers. He is also the author of How to Make $2,000 a Month Online and Start Up your Life: Why we don’t know what we want, and how to set goals that really matter. McVal writes about motivation, decision making, and strategic thinking. He graduated from UC Santa Barbara in 2011 with a degree in Spanish, and has since worked as a market researcher and business consultant in Washington D.C., New York City and London. You can reach him on Twitter @mcval or on IG @mcvaliant. 

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Then this article is a great place to start. Networking isn’t hard on paper…you go along to online and in-person meetings, make new connections and build relationships, and those relationships lead to more work so you can grow your business! The challenge is that in reality, it isn’t quite so straightforward, as our emotions get involved and make things much tougher.

It’s incredibly common for nerves to creep in and to feel overwhelmed and apprehensive when it comes to networking – even when it isn’t new to you. But how can you become more successful at it, feel less self-conscious, and make networking work for you and your business?

Here’s a few tips to help you embrace every business networking opportunity you get, so you can grow your business and achieve your goals.

Rock up with confidence

If you want to keep those nerves at bay and ooze confidence at networking get-togethers, you’ll need to downplay it rather than seeing it as a big occasion. Try not to put pressure on yourself and see it as a casual meet-up with a bunch of people with similar goals to you. To help you relax in the run-up to the event, be sure to set achievable goals and expectations before you go.

Keep your chin up and your goals in mind – positivity is key. One easy goal for your first networking meeting is very simply to speak to one other person and see where the conversation goes. Introduce yourself and your business, but take the time to listen to their story, too. It’ll only take a few minutes and will be over before you know it, so it’s nothing to fear. You may even enjoy it and want to speak to a few more people, too!

“You can close more business in two months by becoming interested in other people than you can in two years by trying to get people interested in you.” – Dale Carnegie

Where to go networking

If you’ve never been networking before, it might not be very easy to find a group – but only because there’s so much choice and you don’t know where to start your search! Groups come in different sizes and styles, so it’s important to find one that suits you and your business. Informal, formal, big, small… the choice is yours.

For your first meeting, start small to ease yourself in – a big group could prove too daunting, and stop you from feeling comfortable enough to get involved. After all, you want to make a strong first impression!

If you’re wondering which group to opt for in the long-term, give a few a go! Get a feel for them, speak to as many people as you can, and see which one suits! You’ll know when a group feels right for you, and you can see where those all-important relationships are most likely to be built. If a group doesn’t feel like the right for you, give a different one a go.

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This will happen for you, as long as you put the effort into building those relationships. If you take the time to get to know people, and then check in with them and support them, they’ll see you as a trustworthy and reliable contact who they can call on. And when they feel that way, those leads and referrals you’re looking for will come a-knocking.

Once you’ve made relationships with people who you trust, and they’ve had a positive experience working with you, you can even ask for referrals! But don’t rush this, as you don’t want to inadvertently push people away or try and force the relationship along too quickly.

When you do get an opportunity to work with someone you’ve met at a networking group, go above and beyond to offer more value than they’re expecting, as then, they’ll be much more likely recommend you and introduce you to more of their contacts!

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