I‘ve written a dozen posts on networking. A few of them have been posted here including, Your Best Networking Plan Keep it Simple, Top 10 Networking Mistakes, and What Networking Events Should You Attend? So—why one more? Because I’ve hardly touched on what has become by far the most rewarding and successful networking group I belong to, Friend Up.

What is Friend Up?

Friend up didn’t exist before 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. That was over three years ago. We’ve met monthly ever since, and a splinter group began in Fort Wayne last year. Not a week goes by without friends helping each other. For example, a recent timeline on our closed 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. Below is a slide presentation outlining Friend Up, which could be used to create your own group, but there are many other opportunities, besides a friend up, to create networking  associations. What do you need? Where can you use help and advice? How can you help others? Here are a few ideas.

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.” 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.

[raw] [/raw]

Where Do You Begin?

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

• 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—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 needs by friends with similar interests. If you were to create a network what would it be? If you can answer that question—isn’t it time to get started? If you could use help or advice call me. 317-306-9713

Like what you’re reading? Join us on Twitter, Facebook, and Google Plus, and let’s continue the conversation.