All forms of Business Networking need to be viewed with cynicism.
Brilliant marketing creates the idea that new opportunities come directly from the events or your online presence.
Can that really be true? Learn from the experience of others.
Business Networking Experience – Online
Over the years online business networking has contributed to the growth of Ontogeny. However, a short piece of research linked to use of time in the workplace provided a stark lesson.
For example: An average week for a small business owner started clearing the weekends email messages.
20% of the messages were junk. – zero impact as all deleted
50% existing customers and staff. – 2 hours to respond to all the correspondence
18% enquiries generated from direct marketing and website enquiries. – as much time as it required
12% Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter DM. – 3 hours to review all the content, one item a genuine contact.
The value of the business owners time came into the equation. The Return on Time Invested made interesting reading. Online Business Networking required a disproportionate commitment of additional resources for a neglible financial return.
Business Networking Events
Experience is an excellent tutor, however, choose to learn from others. Reading feedback from the businesses that use the network events to sell products and services is often the only preparation involved.
When deciding which events to attend ask 3 questions:
- Who is running the event and what do they really know about business in my sector? (Trade shows are always a better investment)
- Who provides the positive feedback on the event site, are they businesses that primarily sell advice, legal or accounting?
- What am I sacrificing to attend, could my time be more effectively used?
Time is the resource you are spending, once committed there isn’t a way of recycling it or reusing it.
Most business networking events have a theme, therefore, be selective, chose to attend for a purpose.
Dangerous Place to be informed
The Business Online Networks are dangerous. The information presented as factual often needs a health warning.
A couple of recent incidents highlighted this. Two Small Business Owners use the largest online Business Network.
Signing up to a group exposed both to advice provided by someone purporting to be a veteran business marketing consultant. Having read the article and the plaudit comments that followed both implemented the marketing adjustment.
Both lost contract because they no longer complied with the EU Directive for GDPR. A simple mistake, they didn’t check the advice. However, it highlights the issue that individuals can hide behind the networking site, cut, copy and paste articles, sell ideas and create mayhem.
Oh it may be worth pursuing the advisor through an insurance claim, the odds are that the author doesn’t have any.
Luddite, Cynic or Realist
Every tool in your box can work effectively, but it requires skill. Therefore, address the real issue, is Business Networking enhancing our operation?
It is a great distraction, a great way to meet people and chat, but are we making it work for us? Do we really know what we want to achieve through the networking activity?
If employees or directors insist that this is a great use of time, get them to explain where the benefit has impacted on the business and how this is a platform for the future.
The mantra is “It’s good to talk”. Sometimes, more often that not it is better to be selective about who we talk to and what we decide we want to talk about.
To attend an event with the idea that sales will come from it review how effective that has been.
Once a business owner asked us to prove the point. So we agreed that he would attend 2 breakfast events and then we would use the same amount of time cold calling at a local industrial estate.
He bought a new printer, agreed to go out for drinks and sponsored a charity. Our salesperson converted 4 cold calls to repeat business clients, which paid for the purchases and sponsorship.
Make informed and educated choices. Your time is precious, when at work don’t waste on business and face tot face networking if the sales conversion rates can’t justify the commitment.
Remember online Business Networking Sites are the most effective place to prey on the unprepared. The online world is dangerous.
Create a clear strategy, understand what you need to get from the network and never commit more time than you can afford.
Strategy and Planning Tools
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