Networking groups go through growth phases. Here are four growth phases that we see in Gold Star Referral Clubs.
Identify where YOUR business networking group is at.
1. New - Under 15 Growth Stage: In this phase, the group is adding new members and learning how to network. Everyone is inviting guests. Members are upbeat, positive and excited. The group is in start-up mode. It is extremely important for ALL the members to invite and to get the attendee numbers up to at least fifteen or twenty as fast as possible.
2. The Coasting Stage: This phase can creep up on a group over time. It's when complacency sets in. The group may have any number of members, it may be large or small, but for some reason, the enthusiasm is down. Some referrals are being passed, but each week, it's less and less. Without realizing it, the group could be coasting on past energy. The danger is that they may stray from the agenda, members start to nitpick about the food or the time of the meeting, and members are not inviting guests as much. A few problems like absenteeism may show up, which frustrates the members who always attend.
In the Coasting Stage, the group will lose members, and could even fold, if they don’t take charge. Many times, in this stage, it can be hard to get anyone to lead the group because everyone wants to sit on the sidelines. The way out of this dangerous stage is to get all the members behind a new goal and invite guests. I suggest a new "kick-butt" leader and a big Visitor's Day event.
3. Back to Growth or The "Take Charge" Stage: In this phase, the group has chosen to take charge and do whatever it takes to have a great experience and to keep growing. Fully engaged membership energizes the group, increases referrals, and attracts visitors. Strong leadership inspires the members and everyone steps up to the responsibility of inviting guests. Visitors easily convert into members and are the first to invite more guests.
4. "We Own This!" A Healthy and Mature Group: When the members have taken responsibility for their group, they have taken ownership of it’s success. With time, deep relationships and business alliances will form between the members. They will go above and beyond for each other, giving exceptional value. Weekly referrals can be impressive and it's easy to see that this group will be around for years and years to come. Some of the members will even boast that 90% of their business comes from referrals.
Not every group matures in the same way and some phases may be entirely skipped. The Coasting Stage is the most dangerous. However, once a Club takes ownership and it’s members form deep relationships, the success of the business networking group is easily seen with increased business and referrals.