I've been in Rotary for over forty-four years. Bear with me as I tell you about Jean and Lex who, for business reasons, joined Rotary to network. The names, of course, have been changed to protect the guilty.
In 1990, Jean, fresh from dental school, started a dental practice and was proposed to become a member of a Rotary club. She had two pre-schoolers, a residential contractor husband, and heavy debt. After the ‘fireside chat’ she was invited to fill out an application and became the second woman in a sixty member club. The president assigned her to a committee in which she actively participated. She came to Rotary almost every week and made particular effort to sit with different groups. The next president asked Jean to be the bulletin committee chairman. She accepted; the first of several committee chairmanships on her way to becoming club president nine years later. As she progressed in Rotary, her dental business grew. Many Rotarians and their families became clients. Today, she has a highly respected practice and is influential in civic circles. She is a TRF major donor, a member of the Bequest Society, and takes time to contribute dental services through local and international organizations.
Two months after Jean, Lex, the branch manager of a nationwide home services company, became a member. The president assigned him to the same committee as Jean, but he had limited participation. Throughout the year, his attendance was sporadic. During his month as the club’s greeter, he missed two meetings and failed to arrange replacements. The next Rotary year, he was asked to take a month on the program committee but turned it down because he was "too busy". Later, his company’s regional vice president was in town on his annual visit, and Lex took him to Rotary. After lunch, the vice president asked Lex if he could trace any business back to his Rotary contacts. Lex couldn’t. A little over a year later, Lex resigned from Rotary citing that it was "too expensive and time consuming."
Networking is only as effective as the value delivered. Jean effectively networked. Lex didn’t.