We have found that without some kind of accountability, networking groups tend to devolve into social clubs. We encourage members to become friends, but positive business activity is what makes it a business networking group.
These rules have been established to promote fairness and reduce misunderstandings for everyone’s benefit. Please familiarize yourself with them. While much of this information also appears on the Business Networking page, there is more detail here.
General Step Ahead Business Networking Rules:
- Each chapter has one member per industry or specialty.
- Each chapter meets once a month for 1.5 hrs.
- Any meeting that falls on a holiday will be rescheduled.
- All of our meetings are facilitated by Mark or Mary, who are not there to promote their own businesses, but to add value to your Step Ahead membership.
- Each member MUST COMPLETE an activity checklist each month. You can complete that form online by clicking HERE or get a printable version on our Forms page. Results will not be read to the group.
- Members who sign in more than 10 minutes after the official start time will be considered late.
- No member will be allowed to belong to more than one chapter at a time, but members may transfer to other chapters. Multiple members from the same company who apply to different chapters may or may not be admitted, depending upon the level of independence of the applicants.
- Groups are limited to 24 members to ensure that every member has the opportunity to be a featured speaker at least once per year.
- If a group wishes to grow beyond 24 members, the 30 minute educational portion of one or more meetings can be reduced or eliminated in favor of additional member speakers.
- Initial commitment is for three months. Thereafter, renewals are annual.
- We hold inter-chapter open mixers once each month in the evening, usually on the first Tuesday of the month.
- Members may visit another group no more than once per quarter for each group, as long as there is no category conflict with someone in that chapter
- Facilitators will watch for and perform inter-chapter introductions that would be beneficial.
- Step Ahead does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, religion, gender or orientation.
Business Networking Activities Tracked:
- Attendance & promptness
- Giving referrals to other members
- Meetings with other members outside of regular meeting times
- Bringing guests and/or new members to meetings
- Making useful introductions, even if it's not direct business
- Assisting other members with business related activities, like finding office space or employees
- Offering discounts on goods & services to other group members
- Bringing relevant articles/education to the attention of the group
- Any other interaction between members that builds positive relationships, because that's what networking is all about.
Business Networking Dues and Fees:
- Quarterly dues for business members are $75.
- Quarterly dues for not for profit representatives are $45.
- No refunds except for extenuating circumstances.
- Members who pay for an annual membership will receive an extra month free.
- Members who choose to pay by credit card incur a small convenience fee.
Visitors can attend two chapter meetings for free. After that we ask that you decide whether or not you would like to join.
Business Networking Meeting Format:
• Each virtual meeting will begin with 10 minutes of open networking. Anyone who arrives after open networking has ended will be considered late.
• Each member will have 60 seconds to introduce themselves and/or answer a question related to networking.
• At each meeting two members will each be featured for 10 minutes for a combination of presentation and questions.
• During each chapter meeting, 30 minutes will be devoted to brainstorming /mastermind activities or educational activities /book discussions.
• Any additional time can be spent on testimonials, announcements and good and welfare.
Donations to Charity:
- 10% of net proceeds from each chapter will be donated to charity at the end of each quarter.
- Members will nominate charities and all members will vote on which charitable organization will receive the donation that quarter.
- No Not For Profit may be selected for a quarterly donation more than once in a year, whether or not the organization maintains a membership in Step Ahead. We do not contribute to political organizations.
Not For Profit Representatives:
Individuals who represent a legal not for profit organization have the option of becoming a member of a Step Ahead group as a representative of that organization for a reduced fee (see Business Networking Dues and Fees, above).
Not For Profit representatives do not have an exclusive seat in the group. There may be more than one not for profit representative in a group, though they won't be for competing organizations.
Not For Profit Representatives are expected to be active contributing members of their group. They complete and submit a monthly checklist of activities and are subject to the same renewal guidelines as regular business members.
If a person whose membership is as a Not For Profit Representative also has a business, they may not promote their business at meetings. If a person wishes to promote BOTH their business and Not For Profit, they should join as a regular member.
The organization represented by a Not For Profit Representative member may be chosen as the charity to receive the donation only once each year in order to be fair to the charitable interests of the other members of the group.
How We Select/Renew Members:
Each prospective member completes an application, which can be found on our Forms page. Mark or Mary will interview the prospective member and follow up on the references in the application. Members will be assigned to groups where there is an opening for their specialty. In the event where there is some overlap in specialties, it will be discussed with the parties involved to see if there is room for compromise.
Membership is on a first-come, first served basis. Assuming all goes well with the application and interview, the first person to apply and pay secures the spot for their specialty in their chosen group.
Step Ahead Networking LLC does our best to screen potential members, but we make no guarantees regarding any aspect of their background which is unknown to us.
Step Ahead Networking LLC reserves the right to opt to decline renewal of the membership of a member with poor attendance, who fails to submit their Monthly Checklist and/or who does not add value to the group through any of the activities listed above.
Step Ahead Networking LLC further reserves the right to terminate the membership mid-term of any member who is found to be engaging in dishonest, fraudulent or incompetent business practices in their dealings with fellow members.