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Picking the Right Entrepreneur Group

For example, Friess felt he needed a group with a strict confidentiality policy so he could honestly talk about his company's challenges when seeking advice. Shellye Archambeau, CEO of Metricstream, turned to the Forum for Women Entrepreneurs & Executives for the camaraderie and access to capital and resources that she could not get on her own.

"By coming together as a group, we are able to attract the best people to spend time with us," she says. "We spent time with David Thomson, author of Blueprint to a Billion: 7 Essentials to Achieve Exponential Growth (Wiley). We heard from House Speaker Nancy Pelosi on how government works."

Only after you've gotten your priorities in place should you seriously start to look.

Do you even qualify? Many of these groups have restrictions or requirements. For example, to join the Entrepreneurs' Organization, which once had Michael Dell as a member, you need to be under 50 years old when applying and your business must have revenue of at least $1 million. To get into FWE&E, you must be an experienced female business owner with an established business and be nominated by a member. To enjoy the perks of the Young Presidents' Organization, you have to apply before you're 45, employ at least 50 full-time workers and produce revenue of at least $6 million.

Shop around: Don't be shy. Hit up a friend if he belongs to a group that you want to check out and be his guest. Attend the free event to learn more about what the group has to offer. Never commit unless you know the group's focus and the types of members it attracts. One of the biggest mistakes you can make when joining an entrepreneur group is not choosing one with the right people, says Jon Gillespie-Brown, author of So You Want to Be an Entrepreneur(Capstone). "If you join a group with 'quality' members, then they will help you develop and grow and add value to your life. However, if the people are lower-caliber, they could easily be a drag and a negative influence."

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