How do you spend your time when you’re not at work? Do you look for ways to improve yourself, develop your skills or expand your network by attending talks, events and gatherings? What if I told you there was a way that you could, with a small time investment and the cost of a few cups of coffee a month, build a close-knit group of friends, develop new leadership skills, find a deeper purpose in life and grow more confident?
In recent years, the number of meetup groups and clubs that focus on personal development, entrepreneurship and self-improvement has exploded. In fact, a quick search on Meetup.com found 10,947 meetups focused on personal development, with over 3.2 million registered members. Most of these events are free or charge a small fee, while other, more formal clubs and groups charge anything from $5-6 per meeting to upwards of several thousand dollars per year for more exclusive members-only societies.
While meeting structure, club values and incentives for joining these groups vary greatly depending on what the focus is, there are certain benefits of joining a club that are typically universal across the wider network.
Here are 8 reasons you should join a club:
1. You immediately expand your network
This is perhaps the most obvious reason for joining a club. When you join a group of like-minded individuals that share your interest or passion in a certain topic, you are able to more quickly make a connection with them. At the same time, many of these individuals will come from diverse backgrounds and share a variety of other interests. In this way, you will expand your network and your sphere of influence to touch people in various industries, parts of the world, and socioeconomic backgrounds that you would never have interacted with before.
“Effective networking isn’t a result of luck – it requires hard work and persistence.” – Lewis Howes
2. You develop new skills
Most clubs that meet regularly tend to focus on developing skills and sharing ideas around a specific topic or area of interest. One great example of a club that focuses on developing skills around a specific area of interest is Toastmasters International, a club designed to teach and improve people’s ability to speak publicly. Other clubs that focus on certain areas of interest, such as various tech meetups in nearly every large city around the world, focus on developments in technology and software. No matter what your interest, chances are that there is a club that meets regularly that matches your specific topic.
3. You build self confidence and self esteem
Interacting with new people can often be a frustrating or nerve-racking experience. People that lack self confidence or high self esteem often find it a struggle to put themselves in situations that are outside of their comfort zones in this way. Fortunately, most clubs have club officials that are trained to recognise when someone is feeling uncomfortable and are able to support them in the introduction process.
4. You are given new opportunities
By joining a club, you not only have the ability to expand your own network and build your own skills, you can interact with people within the club on a variety of topics related to (and not related to) club business. Joining a club can lead to being given great opportunities to experience new things and build lasting, long-term relationships with new friends and business partners. You may visit a friend you’ve made in a club back in their home country, or you might meet your future girlfriend/boyfriend. You may even make a friendship the leads to a future business deal or career change.
5. You learn to manage your time more effectively
We are all busy. It has become a badge of honor to talk about how few hours of sleep we get per night, how long we work each week, or how ‘stressed’ we are about what we have going on. But learning to manage your time more effectively to do things you want to do is a sure way of improving your general outlook on life and making sure you work more efficiently when you do need to get stuff done. Joining a club makes you reassess your priorities and stresses the importance of planning ahead to ensure you make time for your extracurricular activities.
6. You learn to become a leader
Joining a club often comes with the opportunity to take on leadership roles. You may be asked to lead a meeting, train a group on a certain topic, or even become part of the club’s executive board. The longer you remain part of a club, the more you will be able to take on leadership roles and expand your skill set as someone that knows how to lead others.
“Learning networking basics is only a gateway to career growth and exploration.” – Tae Yoo
7. You build a support network
When you join a club, you effectively become a member of a type of fraternity/sorority. You learn the value of being able to rely on those around you for support. Not only that, you can count on others for understanding in times of stress. Likewise, you have the responsibility to give support to others within this close-knit network in times of need. By joining a club, you effectively build another support network you can rely upon which goes beyond your current support network of friends, colleagues and family.
8. You learn to give back by mentoring and providing advice
One of the most important reasons to join a club is because it gives you the chance to learn to give back by mentoring and providing advice to those in need. In many clubs that focus on skills-based learning, you are in a position to take on mentorship roles to help those less advanced than you.
The true value that comes from joining an international or local club with a specific interest or skill-based focus that meets regularly is that it helps support habit formation and the structure required to develop strong life-long skills. But without taking that first step into the unknown and attending that first meeting, you won’t know what to really expect. It’s with that in mind that I urge you to go out and pick a club to attend on a guest basis sometime in the next few weeks.