update on the networking group with the high-pressure sales tactics

Remember the reader whose new networking group used high-pressure sales tactics, including requiring members to promote and buy from other members’ businesses and pushing members to get friends to attend their meetings? Here’s her update.

You were right – SCAM!

I joined this so-called “networking group” in mid-October and by early February, members started dropping. In November, we were at 9 people, and although another chapter in our city kept claiming they had 4 or 5 new applications per week (yeah, right), our growth seemed to stagnate. When we were at 5 remaining members, we met with our chapter’s coordinator (a paid position, working for this company) and expressed our concerns. She tried to rev us all up about re-launching the chapter, etc., which frankly seemed like a lot of work for little return.

We questioned her pretty intensely about the future of the chapter and the promises made to all of us when we paid our membership fees, including whether some of us could transfer our membership to the other, supposedly more-successful chapter. She finally got angry and told us that none of us could transfer to the other chapter without paying the membership fee again and that none of us were getting our money back for any reason, “because that’s just not how the company works.”

I spoke to my boss and offered to pay back my membership fee; she said that wasn’t necessary, just find something else that works better. Since I left the group, I have spoken to several other current and former members, and learned a lot about this company and its “founder and CEO” — none of it good, but we did seem to do some bonding during these information-sharing sessions!

It was a good decision to leave, I just wish I had researched it more before I joined — lesson learned. I’m spending more time with the community and volunteer groups I like and with whom I have interests in common — people who already know me and trust me, and are likely to send business my way when they remember I’m around.

{ 7 comments… read them below }

  1. Mike C.*

    Good for you for standing up to this crap, and in the process saving your boss time and money.

    I just hate stuff like this so much – the over-marketing/over-promising/outright scamming has really turned me off on the “business” world.

    1. Anon*

      Mike, you are preaching to the choir. I can’t stand this stuff either. And I wouldn’t call this “business” – this kind of crap, the MLM stuff, these fake networking groups, etc., are all just scams to take people’s money. They will tell any kind of lie to get people to sign up. I don’t fault the OP – she was young and inexperienced and didn’t know – but people who should know better and get into this stuff – I just can’t with them. It makes me think they are slimy too.

      I am glad your boss was cool about this OP. And I am sorry this happened to you.

  2. Anon*

    And why would any group need more than one chapter in a single area – wouldn’t they cannibalize each other? See, this is why it seems so much more like a scam. Like there is this company at the top of the pyramid (pun intended) and they are sending out their minions to do this, no matter where it is.

    Ugh – I can’t with this kind of stuff!

    1. OP*

      They have more than one chapter in a single area because it’s supposed to be a profitable company #1, and then benefit members. Plus, they claim to be “industry exclusive,” meaning only one realtor, CPA, tupperware saleslady, etc, in each chapter, so of course they have to have multiple chapters to make more money in member dues!

  3. Anonymous*

    It sounds like you got good networking experience with the other people that were part of your group, so there was some benefit to it.

  4. Tiff*

    I’m sorry the OP got scammed, but at least there is a bit of a “We Survived the Scam” support group. I’m guessing the survivors will be of great benefit to each other in the long run, without paying silly dues.

  5. DA*

    The sad thing is that these types of scams have been going on for a long time in business and will continue forever into the future. The only difference will be the packaging.

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