Networking–Does it pay?

This blog focuses on the benefits and possible pitfalls of networking.

There are many different types of networking events to attend in an effort to meet other business people and market your business. Which one is right for you? Will it be a good return on investment? Consider your time as well as money in calculating your investment.

I can think of many networking events that I have attended, some of which I found to be very productive and others that I have found to be extremely unproductive. How can you have the best chance of going to the productive ones?

When evaluating a networking event, first find out what target market will be attending – is it your target market? By target market, consider both the people you may be able to help, but even more importantly potential referral partners – other businesses who have the same target market as you that may be able to refer business to you.

Then consider the number of attendees that are expected. Quantity is a consideration, but even if the event does not have a high number of attendees that does not mean you shouldn’t attend. If it is a small number of attendees, but all of your target market, it may be very worthwhile. You need to consider a couple other things.

What is the format? How much time of the networking event is spent on networking versus speakers? Are the speakers trying to sell something, or are they educational – perhaps they are a combination of both the selling and education variety. Be sure to find this information out before attending otherwise, you may get to it and be disappointed that it ended up being longer than anticipated, was mostly a sales pitch and there was very little networking time in proportion to the time they took of yours trying to sell you something. Don’t hesitate to ask for this information when being invited to a networking event. Remember, your time is valuable.

How much should networking events cost? Most usually cost between $10 and $20. Some may be a bit higher if of the educational variety. Some are even free to attend. Be careful of those that require a high membership fee to be a part of their group, or require you to use their resources in exchange for promoting you. If you do decide to pay a high membership fee, make sure you are keeping track of the business you are getting as a result of that membership. Take a look at your ROI before renewing these types of memberships. Productive networking should not cost thousands of dollars.

Of course getting out there and networking in the right places is just the start.  The real pay off comes with what you do after the event with those individuals who showed interest in getting better acquainted with your business.  We'll discuss this in our next blog.

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#1 sue gsell wade on 7.30.2011 at 1:07 AM

Most excellent and well written I have seen in a very long time. Thank you!!!

 

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