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Is joining a city club and/or country club worth the investment

Started by JTones, March 11, 2019, 07:18:21 AM

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I moved to Charlotte, NC in late 2016 for career growth after being laid off from my employer in Jacksonville, FL. I currently work in IT as a project manager for SDLC projects. I am still relatively new to the area and therefore don't have a ton of connections (both professional and personal). I am most likely considered a "young professional" at 32 years old. I do not have kids yet, but would like to in the future.

I have recently looked in to joining the Charlotte City Club. The club is located in Downtown Charlotte in a high-rise building with excellent views of the city. They have two dining rooms (one casual and one formal), a bar area, and a lounge area (which can also be used as a remote work space). They are adding a rooftop bar/lounge area in 2020. Within the club are "micro-clubs" such as the Young Professionals Club, Wine Club, Cigar/Whiskey Club, etc. Each micro-club holds a monthly event and most also have off-site excursions (attending a sports game together, going to a brewery, etc.). In addition, the Club hosts events for members throughout the year (i.e. Winter Gala).

When you join the Charlotte City Club, you receive reciprocal membership with 5 area country clubs (i.e. River Run Country Club in Davidson, NC). The reciprocal memberships are included in your membership with CCC. Most of the country clubs offer amenities such as golf, tennis, yoga, dining, and resort style pools. You also receive reciprocal membership with other participating City Clubs (approx. 300 clubs nationwide).

Working in IT, I would not have any clients to host at the club. Right now, I don't think I would use it very much for business. My benefit would be the social interactions and trying to meet new people by engaging other members of the club. I could also try to network with older members who are more established in the city (and if I am lucky potentially find a good mentor). I am currently horrible at golf, but have thought about taking lessons (same goes for tennis).

The cost to join is a one-time initiation fee of $2,250, plus monthly dues of $113 indefinitely. There is also a $75 quarterly minimum for food/drinks. Most of the micro-clubs have yearly dues as well ($100-$400).

My question is whether the initial cost and the monthly expense would be worth it? Is this kind of "investment" wise? Or should I try to meet new people and network using other, less expensive options?



I think you can probably find a bunch of anecdotes either way: people preparing for retirement who look back at free spending at a social club and say "what a waste", and people who met somebody influential at a club who totally changed there career trajectory. On the one hand, the software world doesn't seem to roll that way as much as lawyers, and you're not expected to bring in clients in the same way somebody in finance might. On the other, if you're hoping to move into the executive ranks it might be a path. I suspect there's no good hard data, so it's an intuitive decision.

If we say 20 years, and contrast with saving the money at a 5% ROI, it's about $60K minimum cost. If you get a reasonably better job early on that will easily pay for everything. On the flip side, by socializing with people more free with their spending, you might face higher lifestyle creep and the difference could easily rise to $500K+.

I guess my advice would be:

Think carefully about your career goals. What sort of social network do you need to make that happen? What sort of connections would be most valuable?

Investigate what the alternatives would be. Easier to do a cost/benefit analysis if you know what your fallback plan is. Where else might you make connections, of what quality and at what cost?

Run a simple budget. $2K is the minimum, but how much do you expect to really spend? How many dinners out, how many nights at the bar, how many social trips? Do you expect to feel like you need to show up in a better car, in nicer shirts?

What's the goal? How many meaningful connections in your industry and outside it are you expecting to make? What sort of connections are you shooting for (e.g. level of seniority, people on quick upward trajectories)? Are you trying to lay a foundation and just know these people, or are you expecting a degree of active business engagement (recruitment, sales opportunities)?

Then if you decide it makes sense, try it out. Track your budget and see if that was realistic. Try to honestly evaluate the benefits you're seeing from the network. If you're spending more and not seeing how this will help your career, quit and try another social track.


As a retired tech executive I'd look into some of the tech clubs.  Austin is full of them and they are just social hour at a local tech company.  The advantage is you do meet the execs of that local company and you are learning about the different companies in your area.  So if that new job doesn't pan out you already have some tech network contacts.  You also may be working with some of those companies in the future as vendors.

Deanna - Ms. Fiology

Hey there, as soon as you said City Club, I thought of the City Club that my boss joined here in Cleveland, Ohio. However, the benefits sound a little different. Our City Club has weekly forums on very relevant topics and bring in a lot of authors and/or other influencers. I've gone to a few of these forums/luncheons with my boss and it is not only interesting information but also a great way to connect with some fascinating professionals here in Cleveland. This membership is not as costly as the one you mention. Point being there might be some alternative, less expensive options in NC that will provide high value.

I would do a little research on other options before making a final decision.


My experience in tech is that the other meetups were more effective, but the easiest way to learn would be to LinkedIn some folks that have been members and are in your line of work. Ask a few folks that are willing to connect to chat about it or get coffee. Ask the club if they will offer a reference member or two that fits the profile.


Thank you for the input so far!

I know it's a cliche, but I want to surround myself with other successful people. This includes people my age and also people who are older. The saying "if you want to be wealthy, spend your time where wealthy people spend their time" has to be sort of true, right?