A 2 hour networking event takes 16 hours!!
Tips to becoming an Empowered little Networker!
This blog will help you to make the most of your networking potential.
So, you want to start networking but you’re not sure quite how…? Well that’s the easy part. The first thing is to know why you’re wanting to network in the first place? The typical reasons for networking are: To meet new clients or potential clients, to meet new partners and to increase your profile. It can be quite a stressful experience, but it need not be. So if you’re going to network, it is useful to prepare before hand; find where your clients, i.e. your target audience is going to be – so you can be there too.
So how do you find networking opportunities near you?
How: Google ‘business networking’, in your region, or ‘business networking meet up’, in your region, and visit your local business centre, or national networking groups such as: FSB, The Athena Network, WIBN, BNI. There are several more besides these.
By networking, you meet other people who network and they will tell you of other ones they attend, too. So this helps you expand your reach.
So How much does Networking cost? Both in time and money? Well, some are free, some may charge an entry fee as little as £5 or £10. Whilst others incur an annual membership rate of: £500-£1,000+.
However, I will focus on the time factor in this blog.
Consider this: You plan to attend a networking event that lasts between 12-2pm. How much REAL time will it will take up (in total)?
- 2 hrs?
- 4 hrs?
- 7 hrs?
- 17 hrs?
Well let’s work it out:
(The figure in purple represents the cumulative hours spent)
The event lasts 2 hours (2 hours)
- Make the most of the networking event: Why are you attending? What is your purpose for going? To meet others business people? To develop confidence in networking? To increase your profile, to pitch, to sell? You need to be clear, so you need to spend time preparing – it helps to relieve the pressure and you can be more focussed.: 1 hour. So plan the message you wish to communicate and practice communicating it clearly. (3 hours)
- Promotion- Do you have a particular promotion to advertise? You need time to design the content, have this critiqued and printed, etc: 1 hrs. (Total 4 hrs)
- Where is the event located? You’ ll need 1hr each way to reach the venue: 2hrs. (Total so far is 6 hrs.)
Now you’ve attended the networking event. Are you finished ? All done? No!
There is still more work to be done. Now it’s time for Follow up, hopefully you’ve met colleagues that you want to know more about and vice versa; this is important as this is your opportunity to find out more about their businesses as well as discuss yours – follow-up is a good way of finding out who you will be able to help in business by making referrals, etc and vice versa (you’ll require the journey time to the meeting point and back plus time there together):
4. Say average 3 key follow ups per networking event, that’s 3 hrs per person plus journey time of approx. 1hr each way for each person (9hrs) (Total 15 hrs)
5. Follow up emails to all people you meet to introduce you and your work (sent within 1-2 days post networking): Crafting the email and uploading contacts to an email management system: 1.5 hrs (Total: 16.5hrs)
6. Ongoing maintenance of working relationships with key people. At least an email per quarter, asking about them; forward an interesting fact, article or birthday, Easter or holiday card. Or you could send a monthly newsletter (time taken will vary depending on chosen activity).
To make a networking event worthwhile, the above key pointers must be respected.
Otherwise why have you attended? Surely you want to be remembered so that people can hire your services.
So it would appear that what seems like a 2 hr- networking event is in reality a 16+ hr event!!
Thus: choose your networks wisely, focus on your market- to save you time (energy and money)!
Now… you attend a ‘free’ networking event…. How much does it cost you? I am sure you know by applying the principles above that there is no such thing as free! But by following the guidelines above you can rise above the stress of networking. So work smart, and make the most of your time and money spent.
I wonder what other factors you consider to be an important part of networking? Do share…