There are two different types of network leeches. The first one, and easiest to spot, is the leech that feels every group member is there for them to exploit. These members usually promise the world to get another group member to purchase their product then back out or disappear once they completed the sale.
For example, our group had a member that represented a business answering service. He sold this service by telling the members his boss would purchase their services, but they needed them to commit to the purchase first. Once the contracts were complete and the service started, he informed the client that his boss decided against the purchase and apologized profusely. He continued to repeat this con each time until everyone in the group was either burned or wise to the scheme.
Everyone joins networking groups to gain business, but your group members should be treated as colleagues and potential advertisers and not just as a client. They may be interested in your product or service and they may be a good potential client, but they also work with hundreds of others and can send more business your way. The first type of network leech ignores this fact and does everything to get the sale, even potentially burning the client.
The first type of network leech is one to look out for, but is easily identified and removed over time. The second type is much more insidious and can cause more damage than a hundred of the first type. If you are not careful every member has the potential of falling in to its trap. These leeches are the network members that foster negative attitudes and spread unnecessary gossip and try to run the meeting from the distance. This type of arm chair quarterbacking and gossip mongering creates unnecessary tension in the group forming rifts between members.
These network leeches feel they are doing the group a favor by pointing out the flaws. Instead there negative attitudes begin to infect the rest of the group. This negative attitude festers and causes more people to spread this attitude to others. This type of network leech uses unfounded rumors, gossip and previously resolved issues as their arsenal. People seem to gravitate around them like a dying sun around a black hole. This is why most networking and self help books stress the need for a positive attitude. Negative people bread negative attitudes and positive people bread positive attitudes.
The only defense against these types of people or worst yet from us becoming like these people is a positive attitude. Force the group to take its focus away from the negative issues and put a spotlight on the positive. Offer the group a forum to handle their disputes outside the group. Lastly, avoid addressing these issues in the group; they will only cause the group to focus on the negative instead of the positive path you lay out.
I know from experience that staying positive in a negative situation is the hardest thing in the world to do. It is human nature to blame the other person, but it is a sign of a great leader and person to rise above these issues and strive to improve.