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As a small business owner, I am constantly looking for ways to network with other professionals and business owners in my area. I enjoy the interaction between entrepreneurs, inventors, owners, and business-minded people. It’s an emotion, actually.

In my never-ending quest to meet others, I visit and participate in countless business networks and referral groups. One in particular got me thinking about the general idea; the group will remain nameless for obvious reasons. Maybe I’ve been sheltered, my favorite group meets at a local coffee shop and we have a very relaxed meeting and usually find a topic that suits most of the group. The “rules” are simple: show up. That is all. We have the expectation that each person buys his own coffee if he places an order, but this does not belong to the group itself. This structure, or the lack of it, fits wonderfully with my personality.

I recently visited a group and almost felt overwhelmed. Everyone who entered the room quickly walked over to me and introduced themselves, almost as if it was necessary. I found out later that it was compulsory; furthermore, any member of the group found guilty of failing to appear was fined, such as a monetary fine.

I got a copy of the bylaws for this particular group, although I understand the importance of structure, rules, regulations and such, the idea of ​​having a bylaws booklet of more than 35 pages seemed a bit excessive.

I took it all in stride; I later found out that being a member of that group would cost almost $900 a year after quarterly membership dues, fines, and weekly breakfasts. This fact struck me as very strange, especially when the group’s mission statement includes making money for its members.

Have I been protected? The idea of ​​just sitting around a table with 6 other business leaders sounds appealing to me.

More to come…

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