How To: Start Your Own Networking Group

We often get asked if there are networking groups like ours in other cities.  The truth is we haven’t been able to locate one.  So it occurred to us that there might be some industrious counselors out there who are interested in starting their own networking group.  And we have to say, that would be fantastic.  Our hope is that if other areas of Texas, and other cities in the U.S., establish successful groups, we can then connect group by group to create a cohesive sense of community within the mental health field as a whole.  The mere idea of this makes us giddy.

So by popular demand, here are our tips regarding how to create your own networking group.

  1. Be prepared to invest some time. We have devoted many hours to the creation of this group.  Co-founder meetings, blog posts, Facebook monitoring, networking events – really the list goes on.  We started this group because we believed it was possible to create a community that was missing in our field.  Communities take a lot of effort to build.
  2. Find a partner, or three. – As previously stated, this takes serious time.  Trying to tackle such an  endeavor by yourself will likely be  unsuccessful and exhausting. Plus, with partners, there is always someone to take the reins when life gets in the way. For example, when one of our co-founders was out on maternity leave, the other two of us were able to take over her duties seamlessly.  It needs to be noted that constant communication and a good working relationship are vital for this to be a positive experience for all involved.
  3. Be clear about your mission, rules, and expectations of group members.  Make sure to post these on all means of social media.
  4. As the co-founders of your own networking group, take your gate keeping duties seriously. Be diligent about monitoring your Facebook page (or any page where members can post comments). There will be times when members post something that can be viewed as unethical. In our experience, this is almost always unintentional. However in those cases, you will need to delete the questionable material.  We have also found it to be helpful to privately message the member this applies to and explain why their post was deleted.  Hopefully this will clarify the situation for them and prevent them from making similar mistakes in the future. If not, it may be time to delete that member from the group.  Either way, if there is unethical material on your networking page, the responsibility rests with you.
  5. If you are not yet fully licensed make sure you have appropriate supervision regarding all aspects of the group. For example, we were all three LPC-Interns when we started the SA Counselors Networking Group, so we made sure to include our individual LPC Supervisors in our decision making process.
  6. Verify potential members’ information prior to adding them to your group.  We manage this by sending a private message to everyone who requests membership. This message asks them for information regarding their license number and reasons for joining the group. We did not start doing this until fairly recently, and as a result we ended up with group members who were not in the counseling field at all. This led to spam, which is just annoying to everyone.
  7. You will not please everyone – do not take this personally.  While there are many people who will be so grateful for your efforts and will tell you so; there will also be people who complain to you about various aspects of the group.  When it seems that these complaints are valid, consider them valuable feedback and make changes as you feel it is appropriate. As for the rest, joke about it with your co-founders and move on.

Hopefully these tips are helpful to any who have a desire to create a community of their own. We would love to be informed of any future networking groups created.

Please post feedback and questions below. We are eager to hear if you find this post helpful.