First let's decide if we are looking for a real estate investment club, group, or association. 

In many cities, you may just have to take what you can get.  But if you have a choice you may find there might be a difference and you probably need to check out each group in your city that offers the most.  But given the choice would you want to go to an Attorney that was a member of the "Lawyers Club" or would want one that was a member of the "Missouri Bar Association."

The word club tends to come across as people who share a hobby and do you want to invest in real estate as a hobby or invest in realestate as a business.  Then when you look at group, it seems to give you a feel of a loosely associated bunch of people, so if you want to foster change in legislation for example, would loosely associated people be able to do that.  Association on the other hand means a group of organized people, who share a full time goal, and work together for the betterment of all involved.

So what should you look for in a group:

 Look for a real estate investment association that meets at least monthly if not more.  This gives you a time to attend, meet people, have people meet you, ask questions, learn, network.  If you have a choice this is the ideal situation.  Now if the group only meets online or virtually, you might try to work with this group and see if you can't find a way to get the people at the virtual meeting to attend a live networking events in town – be sure to work with the leader of the virtual group.
Look for a realestate investment association that has meetings that offer both networking time and speaker time.  You want a chance to learn from the speaker as well as time to talk to other people at the event.  You also want a group that actually networks, this means that people are going around the room and talking to a lot of different people, not just breaking up into their own little cliques for the duration.
Also look for a realestate association that has an active online presence that offers extra stuff like:Webinars for bonus training opportunities.  This allows you to squeeze in one or two extra training events – usually on your time as they are recorded and you can listed to whenever you want to if you can't make the live version of it.
Online networking opportunities through an active message board.  This means you have a place to go and ask a question to the group and get multiple responses in between meeting times. 
Recording of the speakers at meetings.  So while I know you are going to attend every meeting, you might miss something and having the ability to go back and replay a part or all of a meeting is very beneficial.

Look for a real estate investing association that stays up to date with what is happening with local and national regulations.  You want to find an association that brings you information about rules and regulations, local trends, and market data.

Again, you have to take what you can get.  So if you can't find an association in your area that offers all of these things, you might get involved with the only one you have and help them offer these things.  It may just be that they want to offer these things but don't have the willing and able bodies to provide these things.  And if you have to start your own group National REIA (http://www.NationalREIA.com) will help you provide all of these things.

This article is a part of a series of articles to help new people and experienced people figure out how to utilize their REIA group and build their investing team.  Please watch for our previous or upcoming articles:

1.     Where to find a real estate investment club.

2.    What to look for in a real estate investment club.

3.    What to take with you to a real estate investment club meeting.

4.    Get the most out of the vendors at the real estate investment club meeting.

5.    Networking at the real estate investment club meeting.

6.    Learning at the real estate investment club meeting.

7.    Follow up after the real estate investment club meeting.

8.    Beyond the real estate investment club meeting.

About the author:  Kim Tucker is an active real estate investor in the Kansas City Metro area as well as the director of Mid-America Association of Real Estate Investors or MAREI.  MAREI works exclusively with real estate investors who want to learn and success at real estate investing.  Get more information at http://www.KansasCityREIA.com or http://www.MAREInet.com.

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