Posted by: G. Lane Cavalier | May 9, 2007

Networking: Create A Club – Blueprint

I won’t get into the “back story” on this, but basically I started to outline a “Blueprint” for “Creating your own Club.” Here is the info as I had posted on LinkedInChicago.

Here are the things though that I have learned:

1) Decide the type of meeting ( structured, unstructured, social, speakers )

2) Decide on a “costing model” (pay your own way, pay at the door, for profit, free, etc.)

3) Decide you audience ( Mine started with everyone in my contact list who lives in Chicago, then branched out to LinkedInChicago and Execunet )

4) Secure or decide on a geographic location ( loop, lakefront, etc )

5) Find a nice place to host it (items 1 and 2 will impact this) – but if it’s structured it probably needs to be a “private room”, but at minimum I advise to stay away from anywhere with “loud” music or a lot of “foot traffic.” Hotels make great places for this, because they don’t get he walk through that bars/clubs get.

6) “Act as a Greeter” – at the first few meetings, people will be unsure of where to go and what to do, so you need to play “traffic cop” to get people in the right place.

7) “Make sure introductions are made” – be the FIRST to introduce yourself to people who attend, make sure to “Introduce” them to at least one other person before you “hand them off”

8) Try to make sure that you “meet” everyone in attendance, if for no other reason than the fact that individuals feel a closer connection to the “leader”

9) Communicate “clear directions” in the invites; give at least 2 weeks notice, but not more than 4 weeks. I generally try to do the reminder 2 to 3 days prior.


A few other notes:


1) Set realistic expectations (general rule is the city will outdraw the burbs if for no other reason than population density, but from speaking to some of the founders of very large meetings, it takes months for you to really get it going strong )

2) Communicate “clear” expectations of the meetings, I could have done a better job on the first one of “laying out the reasons”

3) Develop a group of “CORE” members, these people will provide you with a great deal of insight since you can’t hear all the feedback and you definitely will be ‘busy’ at the first few meetings.

4) Solicit feedback ( I tried to email each of the first time attendees personally for the first two meetings, just to verify that they enjoyed themselves as well as ask for feedback as to what was “good” and “bad”

5) don’t make “DRAMATIC” changes unless there is a pressing need. The best piece of advice was to “stabilize the place, days, and times” as you want people to make the group a “habit”


For a little more information (and another shameless plug) on the advantages of starting a “club”, see my Blog post “Non-Traditional Networking – Part 1 – “Create a Club”



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