Sure, you know having a strong professional group is key if you want to progress in your career. It’s been found that 85% of jobs are filled via networking, and being part of a small, highly engaged-group of industry professionals is an excellent way to share knowledge and achieve your goals. This is especially true for those of us who didn’t happen to graduate summa cum laude from an Ivy League school, packing a mafia of highly connected silver spoon types in our back pockets.
Often, it’s straight forward to put together a professional group. Everyone starts out enthusiastic, engaged, and optimistic. Over time, however, groups are inclined to lose steam and see a drop in participation.
Do you read stories of successful professional groups and wish yours could be the same? Keeping reading to find out how to keep your group active and engaged.
1. Create Social Media Spaces for Your Group
If your group is spread across a large geographical area (or even a single big city!), it can be hard to get together for face-to-face meetings. That’s where social media comes in. Creating private online groups for your members to join is an excellent way to boost day-to-day engagement.
Groups can be used to post regular discussion questions, to ask others to share a campaign you’ve been working on, or just to chat and get to know each other better. Be sure to check in with your group each day to share relevant content, post discussion topics, and answer questions.
2. Ask How You Can Help Others
Being part of a professional group needs to be beneficial to every single member. Asking how you can help the others is a great way to encourage them to stick around and helps you form meaningful connections.
Helping someone else could mean anything from sharing her post on Facebook to offering an hour of free mentoring, or answering questions on a difficult topic on which you’re knowledgeable. Often times, it’s just lending an ear. Other times, it’s making a great intro.
Successful groups aren’t about one person benefitting from everyone else, so be sure to focus on helping others whenever you can. It also sets a cultural tone that others will model, expanding the value of the group exponentially.
3. Host Live Events
While emailing and chatting on social media is great, the energy of live events can’t be beaten when it comes to generating enthusiasm and excitement. In fact, 68% of entry-level professionals value face-to-face networking more than online.
If you live close to other members of your group, arrange a regular meet-up to share ideas, make introductions, and support each others’ goals.
If you’re too far away, use a video conference tool like Zoom or Skype and schedule a regular live chat. Everyone will log on at the same time, and you’ll be able to have more spontaneous interactions than you would otherwise. You’ll get all the benefits of face-to-face communication with almost none of the inconvenience.
4. Get to Know Members
How well do you know each member of your group? To boost engagement, you need to make every single group member feel like they’re an important part of your network.
Do this by getting to know members individually, then sending regular personalized messages. For example, if you know that one member has been working hard on a new marketing campaign, drop them a message giving them some positive feedback or offering to help however you can.
The Women’s Success Network is an excellent example of a professional group that was formed on the basis of getting to know each other. The group has existed since 1985, when just six women met over lunch to share stories and help each other succeed.
5. Show Your Appreciation
Nothing will kill your group faster than members feeling underappreciated. It’s important to recognize that every member is giving up valuable time to contribute to your group. Make sure members feel appreciated by sending personalized thanks when they participate, or posting positive feedback to the entire group via social media.
Starting a great professional group is only half the battle. For anyone to benefit from your group, you need to keep members engaged and motivated.
Keep your group mutually beneficial by using social media, organizing live meetings, offering mutual support, and making sure that members feel appreciated. A group that makes its members feel like a million is positioned for a long healthy life.
Main image: #WOCinTech Chat