I am often asked about the value of networking for business with a typical question being “How much business have you derived from it?”. I believe that networking is very similar to social media. It should not be regarded as the only marketing channel and you should put as much time and effort into it as your business/goals dictate. That means, have a strategy. Here is how I went about mine.
1. Source the internet and ask others about which networks they attend that they believe are useful. Make a list.
2. Attend as a guest for as many times as you are allowed and set yourself a target of how often you wish to network a month.
3. Be clear about what you want from a network and assess them on that criteria. See next point.
4. Assess each network on what it brings to you. Balance these benefits against cost, (including your time and distance to travel), for example:-
- Do you gain any new insights? training?
Do you meet new people? social and supportive? I started with attending two networks a week just to get me out of my office to meet other people.
Does the network attract attendees who either represent your market or a channel to your market?
Are you looking for potential partners or suppliers and are these present?
£ generated over the lifetime of your membership. Networking does not generally generate short-term wins. People need to get to know you, trust you and understand your offering. I have won work from meeting people at networks and building a relationship. You also have to be prepared to help those you network with as much as you hope they will help you.
5. Take action after eacy network meeting to ensure you derive value from it.
6. Decide on a final varied set of networks, that each deliver different benefits, and regularly attend them.
- Keep networking as one of a number of marketing activities.
- Give as much or more than you get
- View networks as pools of interesting connections rather than prospective customers
- Give them time
- Don’t over-invest in time or money
- Keep the number of networks to the lowest you can that fulfill your criteria. Otherwise they take up too much time and distract from other marketing activities.
- Try new ones as a guest to keep your assessment fresh.
Here it all is via video.
The Week: A relatively short week for me. We had my father-in-law’s funeral and my birthday. I always take my birthday as a holiday and as it was on Friday, that worked out well. This week I set up a direct mail campaign to go out next week and have appointed a professional marketing company to handle the follow-up. I do not like cold-calling and feel that the relative cost for someone else to do this, in less time and more effectively, is a good investment. I plan to split the mailing campaign to test the response for those we contact and those we just wait for their response cards. I have bought a Freepost Licence for £75 from the Post Office. This allows me to use a Freepost address rather than expecting someone who is interested in my services, to also pay for a stamp to let me know about their interest. I know that there is an argument that says if they are serious, they will be willing to put a stamp on the envelope but even so, I think freepost is a professional courtesy. I also focused on the next Highflyingdivas Forum in London on the 22nd February. Very excited that HM Revenue & Customs are hosting this and I will be giving a practical insight into Using LinkedIn for Business. http://hfdlon.eventbrite.com. Have refreshed my Highflyingdivas website www.highflyingdivas.com which seems to be a never-ending task with the speed of changes. A colleague of mine gave a tip recommending that people update their websites on a weekly basis to keep them fresh. Finally, I attended my first Non-Executive Director Board Meeting and set up 3 coaching programmes.
Reading for the Week. Back to a classic this week, particularly in our time-starved world. The One-Minute Manager by Kenneth H. Blanchard and Spencer Johnson
1981. The first and definitive one in the series that provides thoughts on how to set goals and priorities, reprimand someone, do anything in a minute. Why should it take longer?
Reflections. Some might read this week’s reflections as being rather irreverent. So, please be warned. We had a wonderful memorial which allowed family members to reconnect. One of the preparatory discussions, however, was what we planned to do with the ashes. Now James’ father lost his faith during the war. As we contemplated this question, it reminded me of a friend’s experiences with this dilemma. My friend first thought that they would leave his father’s ashes at the Crematorium. Then a family member suggested that they scatter them to the winds on the top of a very high hill that he and his wife used to regularly climb. (I know that may not be legal but…). So, said friend went to collect the ashes. First problem. Did he put the casket on the front seat which seemed more friendly, or in the back which might be safer? At home, similar question. Did he bring his father’s ashes indoors or leave them out in the in the cold car overnight? Next day the family duly proceeded up the hill. He took the bag of ashes out of the box, opened the bag and…..the ashes fell straight to the ground. It seemed rather rude to kick them off the edge of the cliff so they watched them in silence until his mother’s voice could be heard muttering “He always was a stubborn bugger”. Luckily a breeze came along and lifted them up and away in the way the family had originally romantically imagined.
On a lighter note, I had two experiences of advancing age this week. The first was at my routine check-up when the Nurse refused to believe my date of birth and wanted to know my secrets. Small proud smile from me. Later that week I went to the Gym where the Receptionist asked me “How old are you?”. I responded as all women do with a coy “Why?”. She then said “Well if you are over 50, you get a discount”. Hmmmmm!
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