The regular details of running a chapter of an established networking organization will vary somewhat depending on the group. They will have certain things in common that will require attention. The process will be challenging, and require good personal and organizational skills.
You should develop a regular schedule of maintenance for the routine tasks so that you can focus on the more creative and demanding aspects as they arise. Consult with the representative of your organization to find the best way to plan this out so that you can spend your time on your business and your group.
You will need to be sure that meetings run smoothly. They must start and end on time, and they must be consistent. You will need to check for proper necessary equipment until you have the officers in place whose jobs it will be to handle this, and then you'll need to make sure they follow up.
The meeting room size and atmosphere should be watched in case your group starts to outgrow the accomodations. This shouldn't happen if you plan properly up front. Chairs and tables should be adequate for up to 50 people, and be movable to keep things suited for smaller groups as you get started.
You should also know at all times how many people will be attending the next meeting. This will determine how you will need to adjust the seating arrangements. You will also need to know the amount of attendees who are going to be guests. Their meals are paid for by the chapter. You will not want to get caught by surprise.
Make sure that proper records are kept by the appropriate people of how many guests showed up, who brought them, and how many leads were generated by each person.
If changes need to be made, make sure you let the facility that the meetings are held at know in plenty of time. And make sure the menu is clear with everyone involved in the meeting process ahead of time.
It will be your responsibility to see that members are properly trained in the essentials of networking. In most cases this will be handled directly by the sponsor, but you should keep track of the new members progress to ensure that this is done well and soon.
At meetings, listen carefully to how the members explain their needs in the way of clientele. Make sure they explain exactly who their best customer is and what they offer. This enables the membership to best help them to find the customers they want.
If you maintain a library of training materials, keep track of who has used them and how they are progressing. Make sure that the library is kept circulating so that the group as a whole continues to enhance their skills and their value to each other. Nothing will make a group as solid as regular new business being referred.
If your organization provides seminars, or there are groups or schools locally that provide them, make sure you encourage the members to attend. These can be very valuable in not only building skills, but in building an appropriate mindset.
It's not the most pleasant thing in the world, but it has to be done. With most groups this is a minimal factor in terms of time, but it is a very important process in tracking the progress of the group.
You will need to keep whatever paperwork your organization requires, and it will usually cover the following :
1. Lead reports : You will need to keep track of how many leads are generated by each member and how many each receives. This will enable you to make sure people are doing their agreed share for the group, and that no one is overlooked. If you find that one or more members is regularly not receiving the leads they should be, take appropriate steps to correct this.
Beside reporting, you will need to keep close tabs on the financial situation of the chapter. Money will need to be available for meals for guests, supplies for the chapter, and other miscellaneous minor expenses as they arise. You should also consider various forms of fundraisers for your group. They can enable you to hold social events and similar publicly attended activities that can help to increase membership and increase the chapters' profile in the community.
Normally, the chapter treasury will be kept in a checking account that will require two signers for every check. It may be a good idea to have additional names open to sign, as there are always emergencies and absenteeisms that are unpredictable.
If your chapter is registered as a non-profit organization, you will need to be sure that money is spent according to the guidelines governing non-profit groups. If there are questions on specific areas, check with the representative from your organization.
Creative ways to raise funds for the local groups should be run by the organization representative you deal with prior to actually getting them started. Some may be new, others may be things that have been done before. In the latter case, your organizations representative may be able to give you advice on making the activity successful.
The procedures for these will vary with the organization. Consult with them for exact structure and frequency of meetings. They will be required in any organization that sets chapters up as non-profit groups with separate corporation status.
Enforcement of Regulations
The rules for each group will be slightly different, but the principles involved will be fairly universal. There will be rules covering attendance and leads, as well as ethical issues. There will also always be a non-discrimination policy.
These policies must be enforced. The members will know what they are prior to signing up, so there should be little chance of argument over them. They agree to certain things when they join, just like they would at any other professional organization, or even a country club. As long as the policies are enforced uniformly and on all appropriate occasions, you'll get few, if any, complaints. Business people will understand the reason for rules and procedures.
The reason this is so important is simple. Protection of the group from liability. Proper enforcement of the rules, especially rules regarding ethical conduct and discrimination standards, will make sure that you are covered from any damaging suits.
Enforcement of the rules which are legally less important, but more significant on a week to week basis, is important to make sure that the group stays in focus and to avoid minor personal clashes. It is reasonable for a person to ask why one person has to live by rules and another doesn't. Let that situation develop, and you'll find yourself trying to answer that question. And you can't. If you make sure the rules are enforced properly and by the book, people will understand them, respect them, and follow them. And they will gain an increasing respect for you as a leader.
Remember, the whole idea is to pay attention so that these aren't necessary. Set the example for your group, be fair and they'll follow your lead.
ProfNet is a professional networking group with over 30 chapters throughout the US and expanding to international markets.