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Networking Groups: Knowing when it’s time to leave

August 2nd, 2010

I’m not talking about when it’s time to leave a networking event, I’m talking about permanently leaving a group you are in.

A few years ago I networked in a Yahoo Group (an excellent place to network).  This group was run by someone with a beautiful smile and a seemingly helpful persona, but I had a different experience than most.

My contributions to this Yahoo Group, with a lot of job seekers, were sincere and helpful.  When someone asked a question that I could (or should) answer, I spent a fair amount of time constructing a response that was encouraging and had enough meat that the person would be able to move on.

At least half of my messages never made it to the group.  They were flat out rejected by the moderator, who sometimes would construct her own response that had a lot of similarities to my response.

One time, she responded saying that it was HER group, not the Jason Alba group…. by this time I was just about done having all of my free help and thoughts slapped down.

I didn’t want to leave the group for many reasons.  This was a large group that was very active and I got as much value as I put into the group (and I put a lot of value into the group).  I struggled with leaving for months, and finally I did.

I left the group.  I left the opportunity to be known, be helpful, keep my ear to the ground on issues, and get reactions to my ideas.

I was saddened to get to that point, but something unexpected happened.

When I left the group I became liberated. I was elated.  Seriously, I was so happy to be out of the control of the group owner, and not have to worry about my contributions being slapped down more than 50% of the time.

No one really knows why I left…  I STILL get emails from people that were on that group, wondering where I went.  I do wish I could contribute to that group… but being free has been so liberating.

I know some of you go to network events, or network online in certain groups, where you feel quite unappreciated. Perhaps what you bring to the table is undervalued and you are essentially treated poorly (perhaps even abused).

Here’s my advice: leave.

Move on.

Leave the group.

Don’t stay for the others… they’ll eventually figure it out for themselves.

There are two reasons to participate in networking:

  • To Give…. of your time, ideas, encouragement, etc.
  • To Get…. moral support, ideas, encouragement, etc.

If there comes a time when the management of the group, or event, thinks that you are a threat, it’s better to go somewhere else and do what you do best than to stay there.

You’ll know when it’s time… when the stress weighs on you and you wonder why they keep doing things a certain way (which is wrong) and you keep getting slapped down… it is time to move on.

And that’s okay.

3 Comments »

3 responses to “Networking Groups: Knowing when it’s time to leave”

  1. Juli Monroe says:

    Jason, I completely agree with you. I was also in a networking group. I liked most of the people, but I wasn’t getting the referrals from it that I thought I should be. I finally left the group and was amazed at how much better I felt. No politics! For the first time in a long time, I wasn’t coming home angry every day.

    This is so well put that I’d love to feature it as a guest post on my blog. May I?

  2. Jason Alba says:

    yeah… angry… that’s a good word to describe it. I had enough issues I was dealing with I really shouldn’t have had to do deal with those politics, being belittled, etc.

    Feel free to include it as a guest post… as you know, just include the proper attribution :)

  3. Tom Dezell says:

    Jason, You and Juli provide the perfect litmus test. The purpose of joining a networking group for ideas and support. If you continue to come home from the meetings feeling worse instead of better, you’re not benefiting from the group.

    Tom Dezell
    Author, Networking for the Novice, Nervous or Naive Job Seeker