How effective (or not) do you find formal business networking groups? Do you consider the return on your investment for being a member of such a group?
Many of these groups charge an initial joining fee, an annual membership fee and a weekly charge for the breakfast (often as a monthly standing order).
It's not just the cost of joining + weekly breakfasts (between £600-£1000 per year) you need to consider but also the cost of your time ... 2hrs+ a week, not including travel time.
If your average client/customer spends £500, you need at least two clients resulting from the meetings to cover your costs. If their average spend is nearer £50 then you'll need twenty customers. And that's just to cover the cost, not including your time for being there. You really want to be making at least double your investment - otherwise it's not worth your time.
Quite often people will be members of several networking groups - formal, informal - social and business. It makes sense to take stock every now and then to make sure that you're getting the most out of your investment of time and money.
There are other factors to take into account. It does take time to see results and often there's more than just business you get from these meetings - advice, support and information can be just as valuable.