When searching for a networking group, many people seek out groups where they don’t know any of the members, the logic being why network with people you already know. Knowing at least a few people in a networking group is precisely what you DO want for any number of reasons.
First, a familiar face or two makes your transition into any group smoother, particularly if the people you know have established relationships with others in the group. So, when setting up 1-1’s you’re not “the new guy” but the “friend of John/Jane”. And that can be enough of an icebreaker to develop your own relationships within the group.
That’s one obvious advantage of knowing people before you enter a networking group. Another is getting to know your friend/acquaintance better because you are now in a networking group with them. Maybe there’s a service they have recently added since the last time you talked? Perhaps you didn’t know they went to a certain college or worked at that company before going into business on their own?
When you join a networking group, you want to hit the ground running and get to know people in your group as quickly as possible. Especially the folks in your sphere of influence. By knowing people in an existing group, you have insights that you wouldn’t otherwise have had you not known anyone.