My beloved friend, who I've been getting to know slowly over this past year, recently invited me to join a group called "We are 300!" It's an organization of networkers and entrepreneurs, people who want to make a living as well as help others in the process. Presently, I'm cautious yet open about this because I want to know if it's a group of integrity.
So far I haven't had the time or tools to find out everything about this group. Well, actually I had time yesterday but I used that time rather unwisely by checking facebook too much. Excuse my tangent here, but if I use facebook more than seven times in a day that means I'm in serious danger of becoming a narcoleptic.
What was I saying? Oh, yeah.
I'll know it's a genuine group if I observe the following:
1. The people in it treat me—a visitor—with respect. They address me by name and respond to my friendly messages of inquiry with a regard for my feelings and personhood. I'm not ignored. They're open to my opinions and questions.
2. I notice the group is outward focused. If the members are only buying products from each other, the group is undoubtedly going to become more and more corrupt and self-righteous. It's most beneficial if events and conference calls are centered around what can be done for those who are lost or need help. Hopefully, the group interacts with outsiders on a regular basis.
3. The group values people more than money. Money, though recognized as something needed, is not fussed over or hoarded by a small percentage while others are left starving and/or marginalized.
4. If there are regulations, they're adaptable so as to accommodate the Goal. The group's policies are not more important than the mandate to care for people. And, come on, if a member of the group has the choice to observe a conference call or else be present with someone who needs a friend, it's the needy someone who takes priority. A person is always more important than a silly group-made rule.
5. People in the minority are honored, even if they hold unfamiliar opinions. This means that differences in culture or race are respected rather than frowned upon. It doesn't mean agreeing on everything. It means treating them with decency and speaking about minority groups in a positive light.
6. It's not only one person or a very select few who have power in the group. The group functions as a team as much as possible, to help guard against abuse.
7. Creativity is encouraged.
I don't expect any group to fit PERFECTLY into this list, but these are things I'm watching for in "We are 300!" so that I don't get scammed. If I see a lot of problems in the areas I've listed, I'll probably encourage my friend to back out of the group with me.
"We are 300!" says I can join the group for free. However, I hear rumor that I have to pay $99 at some point. This is where I want to be really careful. A group that claims I can join for free, but then tries to force me into paying something in order to be a member, could easily be a complete fraud. I'm still looking into this.