Group Management

Group Management

Most business groups have a form of either membership for the month and meeting fees. There needs to be an open and honest reporting system in place to ensure that this money is accounted for effectively and that everybody is paying. It should be expected that members set up automatic payments to cover the costs of their membership. This allows the person assigned to managing finances to reconcile payments easily, reducing the administrative burden.

Most groups have a committee. This subgroup of members is tasked with managing and running the meeting. Some groups at these committees change every six months; some run for longer periods of time. Generally the committee consists of the Group Leader, who is charged with running the meeting, Chief Administrator, who manages the membership and the finances of the group, Greeters, who set up the meeting room and act as hosts before and after a meeting, and an Education Officer who delivers an educational presentation each meeting to help members to become better networkers. The committee often also has additional roles with regards to membership to help manage the existing members and new applications. It is important that your committee has an odd number of members as this means there can never be a split decision.

Removing Members
We all hope that members follow the rules, have a good attendance and improve the workings of the group. However, there are cases where members don’t follow the rules and need to be removed from the group for the benefit of the whole group. Your group needs to ensure that you have a system in place that first of all defines the reasons for which a member can be asked to leave, the financial processes for returning any monies paid in advance for that member, and most importantly the process that will be followed before their being asked to leave. These policies need to be explained to the group. Often a copy is given to new members to reinforce that membership is a privilege, not a right and that they will be expected to maintain a level of activity and professionalism in the meeting.

Renewal of Membership
What is going to be your criteria for the renewal of membership? Many groups have KPIs of expected behaviour that allows the member to have their membership revoked if they do not meet the expected norms of behaviour. We have yet to find one that includes the number of referrals passed, but they measure member absence and attendance and their activity such as Recon Meetings conducted. It is important to have an active membership to help your group to thrive. It is not about bums on seats; it is about activity leading to results. If all goes to plan your group will never evoke this power, but it is better to have it available and not use it than to need it and not have it available. However, if the KPI’s are being tracked and used as a way of removing less desirable members, it must be a rule that is applied fairly and justly across your whole membership.

Category Creep
One Member One Profession is the mantra of many networking/referral groups. This allows groups to thrive because this eliminates competition within and between the members. However, many businesses do not just do one thing, for example, a printing company will often offer graphic design services and even website design services. To make the group as diverse as possible, there needs to be a policy in place to prevent the subject from which an individual member may speak at the meeting. Often, like in the example above of the printer, a member may stray from speaking about their specific membership activity. The effect this may have is to prevent other members from thinking they can invite visitors who conduct this profession from attending the group.

Growth Plans
The vast majority of business networking groups that I have visited have no growth plan. This is unusual considering that you can almost guarantee 95% of members of those groups have business plans for their businesses yet the group that they are using as part of that activity does not. If a group is to grow and thrive and generate genuine high-quality business for its members, the membership needs to have an idea of where the group is going. For this reason, it is wise to have a chapter growth plan that might expand two years of expected membership growth and activity. The growth plans may well cross over from committee to committee, but they give a group an anchor and direction.

Succession Planning
Being a member of a committee in any group takes time, this means that your committee is to have a rotating membership for two reasons. Firstly, so that the same people are not always running the meeting, which can lead to issues, and secondly, to allow members to take on roles that will help them to develop as human beings to do things that they have never done before. To make a smooth transition to work out within the group how a membership committee is decided, choose whether an election for roles will be held, or if it is a volunteer-based system. Some groups rotate their management every 6-12 months; others have a rolling programme of role replacement to ensure continuity of command and control functions, as well as retention of the group, agreed goals and growth.

Management Software
To help your group organise itself, manage membership, speaker programs, and track referrals you will need a software program of some description. This website is all about Refur, a system that has been developed specifically for the management of networking groups and to facilitate easy communication between members. We offer a free trial to allow your group to try before you commit.

Absences and Substitutions
Do you require members to find a substitute representative when they are away, or do they just get a leave of absence if they can’t make it? Is there a penalty for absence?

Your Venue
It is important to consider both the members and visitors when choosing a venue. Do you have members from a specific area of your town or city? Does this restrict the venues available to you?
Do you have a meal at your meeting? Some groups meet for coffee and a cookie; others have a formal sit-down meal, what is your group’s choice?
Is there easy parking if people need to drive to get to the meeting? Do people need to prepay the venue or a treasurer member before they attend to keep the accounts in order?