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Networking Group Seat Territoriality

no-987086_640If you’ve ever been in a single-person per profession networking group, you already know what I’m talking about. It’s when someone joins with a certain set of core services, and then gets very possessive of visitors or prospective members that offer ancillary services similar to the member.

A good example is a situation I faced recently. There’s a real estate agent in one of my networking groups. He’s primarily a residential agent, but he occasionally talks about commercial services since we don’t have a commercial agent in the group. I invited someone who offers a very specific set of property management services. I received an email from the agent telling me there was a conflict and I should have notified him before inviting my guest.


Okay, leaving aside that person, let’s break this down, looking at both the good of the group, and the good of the individual member.

Real estate agents often specialize in either residential or commercial, although they occasionally cross and do the other type of business. Commercial agents, by the way, are sometimes dismissive of residential agents who dabble in commercial, and for good reason. I once sat in on a commercial agent sales meeting, and oh boy! They have their own language and rules.

Residential agents tend to work with consumers, and they are a fabulous source of referrals for B2C businesses, especially contractors, home stagers and personal organizers. Commercial agents, on the other hand, tend to work with business clients, like doctors, dentists, attorneys and restaurants. Great for the B2B businesses.

So splitting this seat benefits many in a group, and being territorial really doesn’t benefit anyone, including the agent. Often, a residential agent refers the business to a commercial agent in the office. That’s not a bad thing, but if I’m referring you and talking you up to my referral, I might be just a bit peeved if my referral gets handed off to a total stranger. Then I might not refer said agent again, which can be a bad thing.

It can take some time to tease this sort of thing out of a potential member, but it’s worth the time up front to take the measure of a person and carefully craft the core services. You’re much better accepting someone who isn’t territorial.

In my next post, I’ll look at the flip side. Defining a seat so narrowly that no one wins.