Logging on or showing up is a good start when you join a professional network, but if you really want to make the most of your opportunity, get involved! Here are steps you can take during your next online or in-person interaction to optimize your involvement:

Leave No Question Unasked

Tap into the group’s collective knowledge and experience. Start discussions. Ask questions to tackle issues you’re experiencing in your business. You may get a helpful answer, identify an issue worth researching, or at least find a sympathetic audience. Think about how to ask your question to yield the most useful responses.

Don’t Forget to Share

If you can answer someone’s question, speak up! Share your wisdom. Direct group members to helpful resources. You have contacts and life experiences others don’t. Your contribution could make a big difference for another professional. Consider giving a presentation to the group.

Connect, Connect, Connect

One of the most important functions of a professional group is to facilitate connections. That’s why you joined, isn’t it? Talk to others with whom you could do business. Get to know people. Exchange contact information and follow up. Build relationships outside of the group setting. When you can, create connections for others. The more links you build, the better.

See Things Through

If you get a referral from a group member, contact the referral as soon as possible. Periodically update the referral source on how things are progressing. Even if the referral doesn’t turn into business for you, your referral sources will appreciate you keeping them in the loop and will remember you for future referral business.

Step Forward

Consider applying for a leadership role within the group. You will gain experience and recognition among your peers. Not only can you help influence the group’s future, but your visible role will establish you as a go-to resource in and beyond the group.