It isn't enough to find just any critique group. To really learn and grow as a writer you have to find the right critique group. Figuring out exactly what that is can sometimes be as difficult as finding it. A good critique group is well balanced, and I don't mean genre. You can belong to a group that all write different genres and it can be the perfect group. I know because I belong to such a group.
The balance is in the way everyone critiques. You don't want to belong to a group that sits around and only tells each other how wonderful their writing is unless all you need is affirmation and a pat on the back. It is nice to have that pat on the back now and then but there is little to nothing you'll learn from a group like that because chances are high that they aren't being honest.
Honesty is the key to a good critique group. However, that key should be handled carefully instead of wielded like a battle-ax. The members of the group should be able to affectively communicate what didn't work for them in your manuscript and why. However, this should be done with a bit of grace. We don't want a lovefest but we don't want a slaughter either. Balance makes the key work. The group should say what they liked and what they didn't. After a session you should feel like you'll be able to improve your work with their feedback. If not, then the group may not be right for you.
Be open minded, choose wisely, and have fun. Remember, you're there to learn and improve and hopefully help them do the same. Check out my good friend Lisa's post on When To Take Advice. Here at the Critique Sister's Corner we'll be sharing our methods with you as well as critiques on query letters, first lines, first paragraphs and all kinds of other things. Thank you for joining us. We look forward to sharing this journey with you.