When is the last time you analyzed your networking effectiveness? We all go to events where we collect other's business cards, give yours out and spend time and money for the event itself. Have you put pencil to paper lately to see if your networking activities are yielding positive results? Here's the process I use to decide what's working.
Do the Math - Each of these groups has a fee. Whether it's per event, quarter or year you need to look at the financial cost of each event. Include items like parking, gas, business cards and brochures. Yes, it sounds detailed but your bookkeeper would tell you the same thing. Next, log the time from the minute you leave to drive until you arrive at your next location. How much could you bill a client during that time? If it's an evening event, there might be priceless costs like time away from your family. Do the math.
Check All Your Statistics - Are you giving more than you're getting? If the group doesn't keep statistics, check your own. How many new people do you meet at each meeting? How many are good prospects? How many are good referral sources? How many signed up for your newsletter? There are many ways to track your own statistics. Build a simple spreadsheet and track your own results.
Break Out of Your Rut - You may not want to admit it, but you are probably getting lazy: showing up late, sitting and talking solely with friends, and not strategically setting meetings with potential sources. Change up your routine. Show up early. Vow only to talk to new people. Set at least one outside meeting each week. Go to a group where you know no one.
Referrals from colleagues were the top way businesses find their service providers. (Source: RainToday Report) If you are banking on the Internet you are missing out. Six of the top ten were face-to-face marketing vehicles including the top five. We can Tweet, Facebook and SEO too, but our prospects still want to shake our hand. Get out there and let them. Just be sure to change up your events and hold yourself accountable to networking goals.
Paula Pollock is Director of the Pollock Marketing Group, further assisting good companies in becoming great through outsourced marketing services with her team of professionals. PMG supports business marketing at all levels from DIY, short-term projects and campaign corrections. You can sign up to receive her Marketing Tips newsletter at www.paulapollock.com