I recently took on the leadership role of the networking group I've been in for the past eight years. This group has been very profitable for me in many ways. Not only have I received valuable leads that have led to business, but the group gives me the opportunity to offer additional products and services to my clients and contacts.
The key to getting the most out of a networking group is really understanding how it works and why you're there. So many people think that it's all about the leads they get. It's really about how useful you can be to the other members. Do you attend regularly? Do you provide valuable leads and referrals? Do you keep the other members in mind as you interact with others? Do you ask for specific leads - thereby making it easier for your group members to help you?
It takes every member of the group participating and committing to the group's success to make it work. Therefore, each member has to consistently monitor their commitment to the group and make sure they aren't staying out of friendship or obligation.
Networking groups are great resources when handled properly.