I’d like to pretend I like Networking, but that’s not true. I get a little anxious, at worst terrified. I put on my best smile and bravado.
Often it runs to a script something akin to this; I find another lonely stranger, Confess my unease and often find they share my feelings. Great, we’ve something in common.
We strike up a conversation and realise that we have some common interests. Winning…
When it turns to business, they jump into sales mode. They’re just trying to sell me another something I don’t need, particularly right now. They haven’t even stopped to explore a little about what I do. They keep going on about; they have the best deal, right now, time is of the essence and how this is perfect for someone like me, but what they’ve got just it’s not on my radar at all.
Oh, and they won’t shut up…
I’ve not even had the opportunity to find out who their ideal prospect is and it’s finally time to sit for lunch, some reprieve. This one is a common story I hear of networking events and one I’ve lived out too.
Getting a Return on Networking
You’re not alone, many of us hate networking, even the organised regular types of networking we attend and build some great relationships. However, little work flows as a result. You give out referrals and yet seem to get little in return.
There could be for many different reasons for the lack of success here. Maybe the elevator pitch, although well-rehearsed, isn’t hitting the mark. Maybe because you’re new to this business or this group, people are waiting to see if they survive for a little while. Maybe it’s the wrong crowd.
Let’s consider the real cost of networking. It’s not just the $25-$35 a week for the meal, coffee or drinks, although that does add up when you have a few different groups, each one costing $100 per month. It’s not the Joining fee of between $500 and $1,500 either. Although not insignificant, it’s designed to tie you in, leverage commitment. And then there’s support for the network, meeting up with each other, and inviting guests to join (with rarely a financial reward when they do). In short, the financial costs of up to $1,500 and about $100 is just the start.
The big investment is the time. Yes, relationships take time. It takes time to work out if this group is good for you? Is your target audience there? Does this group refer their colleagues, clients and friends, or just themselves?
Time; “Time is money” Benjamin Franklin would say.
So let’s consider for a minute, that time is money and that your time is worth $50/h. If you were paid $50 for 40 hours a week, for the 50 weeks you work, you’d get $100,000. It’s a good starting point.
Back to the networking. Assuming the meeting goes for two hours, that’s $100. You also had to get there and back to work, let’s add in an hour for that and call it $150 per meeting. You may even be efficient with your time, and attach meeting a colleague from the group directly after, so we’ll add in another hour for that; we’re up to $200 per week. Still, there is the $100 odd per month for food and the $1,500 annually to be a member of the club.
If you’re going to join, you may as well do it right and assuming you’re a good member of this networking group; you’d attend 45 times a year (nobody’s perfect). That’s 45 times $200 in time or $9,000 invested, along with our $1,500 annually and the $100 per month for food and coffee. We’ll round down the costs to about $11,500 each year.
Great, now we know what it costs. Let’s look at what we want from the group to return a profit. As long as we get $11,500 for the year that’d be good enough right?
Well, that’s up to you.
With what most people do, delivery takes time. You’ll need to factor that time. There’s also the cost of running the business. Typically, a service business, like an accounting practice will recommend you seek, three times return on investment. Meaning, they’d suggest looking for just under $35,000 in sales coming from the group to call it break even.
For a good investment of your time, you’ll need to beat those odds.