Have you considered creating a networking group? I‘ve written dozens of posts on networking. So—why one more? Because I’ve hardly touched on what is by far the most rewarding  networking group I belong to, Friend Up.

What is Friend Up?

Friend up came into existence October of 2010. It was a serendipitous creation. I sent an email call to action to several friends. Nicki Laycoax replied she’d like to meet everyone attached to the email. Friend Up was born. We met after work on a Thursday at an establishment that had dollar beer and 25 cent tacos. I asked everyone to bring a “help”, an area where they could use advice, for the group to brainstorm.

Eleven years later not a week goes by without friends helping each other. For example, a recent timeline on our private Facebook page progressed from one friend announcing a job opportunity to another winning the position.

Where Do You Need—Friends?

Our Friend Up is a loose group of smart and funny folks who enjoy helping others. Besides brainstorming and helping, our primary common interest is social media. There are many other opportunities, besides a Friend Up, to create networking  associations. So, what do you need? Where can you use help and advice? How can you help others? Here are a few ideas.

Creating a Networking Group 

Start a business brainstorming group. Create a business help networking group based on location, industry, size, product, or service. I didn’t say start a “pitch my product group” because we have enough of those. Form a group of business friends who share pitfalls, solutions, and ideas.

Begin a network based on a hobby or interest. Reach out to people who share similar interests and hobbies and invite them to meet-up specifically focused on sharing ways to help each other with the hobby.

Create a volunteer network. If you enjoy giving back, why not form a group that shares and helps each other with charitable initiatives.

This list could go on, groups could be, and have been, formed around avocations, special needs, and beliefs.

So, Where Do You Begin?

So, don’t make this complicated. Invite a few people who have similar interests and needs. If you’re a diabetic, invite other diabetics or if you own a small business, invite small business owners. Are you an amateur photographer, chef, or horticulturist? Keep it simple.

  • Invite like-minded people who share your passion
  • Meet monthly at a convenient time and place virtually, in person, or both
  • Conduct brainstorming sessions focused on helping each other
  • Establish a private online presence
  • Continue to search for and invite new members

I’m not saying networking events are unproductive because they’re not. Any event is only as good as you make it. What I’m saying is, by accident I learned the most effective networking group I’ve ever been involved with was created around mutual friends with similar interests. So, if you were to create a network what would it be? If you can answer that question—isn’t it time to get started?

Friend Up Orientation

I’ve included the Indy Friend Up orientation to give you an idea how it works. Therefore, feel free to use it any way it might be of help. Because creating a networking group doesn’t have to be complicated.

Indy Friend Up is a private group

  • Remember what happens here stays here.
  • Respect the confidentiality of all information shared.
  • Intentionally breaking confidence may result in expulsion from the group.

What to expect at a Friend Up meeting

  • Each attendee is encouraged to offer an area where they could use help or advice.
  • Members are asked to brainstorm, offering suggestions for the area of need or “help.”
  • Some members will take notes to post on the secret Facebook Friend Up page.
  • Other members will act as facilitators promoting sharing needs, participation in the discussion, and staying on track.

How to use the Private Facebook Friend Up page

  • The Facebook private page is for sharing helps, needs, advice.
  • It’s OK to be a little “creepy” defined as asking for help promoting an initiative. If you’re passionate about a worthy action or cause, ask for help.
  • Feel free to use this page to share information about events you think the group might enjoy.

What can be shared at Friend Up?

  • Although Friend Up is a business group, it isn’t limited to professional needs.
  • Professional needs may include but aren’t limited to job search, advice on business activities, and charitable initiatives. Friend Up has helped members find models for a photo shoot, part time seasonal help, critique websites, and more.
  • Friend Up first and foremost is about helping—networking is secondary.

What Friend Up isn’t

  • Friend Up isn’t a place for network sales or being pushy about a product or service.
  • It’s no place for mean-spirited gossip, snarkyness, or destructive behavior.
  • Friend Up doesn’t affiliate with any political party or religious organization and by and large, isn’t the place for sharing or discussing individual politics or beliefs.

How to get the most out of Friend Up

  • We recommended attending meetings. The best way to understand how Friend Up works is to join in.
  • We encourage all to share an area of needed help or advice at meetings.
  • Participate in the discussions, share, offer advice, and connections.
  • Help the note takers and facilitators by staying focused on the conversation.
  • Have fun

Here’s a 13 minute video explaining how Friend Up works, Video about Friend Up.

How Can I Help You?

I’d always considered myself an effective networker. I’m friendly, easy to talk to, and I’ve never met a stranger. However, none of that makes me a good networker – it makes me outgoing. If I wanted to be the most effective networker I could be, I needed a plan. That’s how my networking workbook, Help Networking started.

I like to help people and organizations, but I have three criteria I consider before taking an assignment – I believe in what the organization stands for, I know I can help, and it looks like fun. If you have any questions, Contact Me. 

Does your business have a management training plan? Many organizations, large and small, use my book, The New Manager’s Workbook a crash course in effective management, as the basis for their leadership development program. Check it out.

Photo by Priscilla Du Preez on Unsplash