You only get rewards from being involved in organizations if you participate. Signing up for membership in networking groups, Chambers of Commerce, industry groups, etc... do you no good if you do not participate.
Professionals all over the country think that spending money to join groups will help them build their brand and cultivate new client relationships. However they do not put in the time and effort necessary to establish relationships inside these groups. They spend large amounts of money, and much of it is wasted.
Others regularly sign up to attend meetings, and then make it to the event. They have pre-registered and there are no refunds if you skip out (these groups have to guarantee attendance numbers and pay the catering bill regardless of if you show up). Companies have no idea when they are reimbursing employees expense accounts that they actually attended the event. The paperwork simply shows the date, time and cost of the luncheon.... nobody ever is asked if they made it there in person.
I have been working with several law firms and other companies on conducting "networking audits", where they are reviewing the money that is invested in memberships and event costs for professional organizations to determine if they are throwing money down the drain. They are creating discussions that are keeping in check the balance between paying random dues and registration fees, and funding legitimate relationship building activities.
Business owners and managers are often surprised at the amounts of money that is spent on useless activities. They want to encourage their people to be involved in the community, but do not realize how rarely the members of their team are actually participating in the groups they join.
Dealing with this issue does not involve anyone becoming the "networking police". Companies do not need to develop rigid policies to curtail much of this useless spending. Creating open dialogues about networking groups and professional memberships with all employees will allow the situation to self-correct. However, this has to be a regular part of their business operations, not just a one time chat.
Establishing a "networking culture" takes a commitment at all levels inside an organization, but it will increase visibility and reduce wasted budget dollars. When dues and fees are talked about openly, people will tend to waste less money. Accountability is greatest in the daylight.
Is it time that your company conducted a "Networking Audit"? Reviewing all your networking activities will help everyone prioritize which organizations are valued and which ones are not worth your time and money.
Have A Great Day.