Last week was a busy week, and WOW, was it ever productive.
When is the last time you felt that your networking efforts were truly productive?
Networking is an essential element of your overall sales strategy. It is so important to your sales success that it requires some thought as to what you want to accomplish when you are out there. Where most networking approaches tend to fall flat is that people almost always confuse activity with effectiveness. If your goal is to acquire new customers and increase sales (almost always is) then making the time to ruthlessly evaluate where you are spending your networking time is essential.
Better to attend 3 of the right networking events than 10 of the wrong ones.
Time is money, and I have certainly wasted my fair share of it. How well are you tracking your own time? Do you know if you are generating a positive or negative ROI a for the time you’ve invested? Have you enrolled enough clients to make it worth it?
I met 35 great people last week at the very targeted events I chose to attend. Thinking carefully about my business strategy and goals, I asked myself a few questions before saying yes. You should too:
-Is my client likely to be in the room? Seems pretty obvious, but so many people that I’ve met haven’t actually stopped to consider the question. You need to network with groups of people who are qualified to buy your product or service. Everyone is NOT your client. Target your efforts by reaching out to the meeting organizers to ask who typically attends and how many. Ask people in your network if they’ve attended. If so, what was their experience? Do some homework to be sure this is the right place to invest your time. You might find instead that using the time to make phone calls or participate in a few online groups garners better results.
-What will it cost me to attend? Use this formula: determine your total time to attend, which includes drive time. Multiply this number x your hourly rate + event fee = your cost to attend. Let’s say I’m considering an event that runs from 1-4pm and costs $250. I need to add an hour of drive time on each end just in case. That’s 5 total hours from my day. If I bill at $225 per hour that works out to $1,125 + $250 for the event fee = $1,375. For this event to generate a positive return on my investment (time & money), I must close at least 1 new coaching client @ $1,500 per month in order to break even and make a small profit. But the real goal would be to secure enough clients to more than pay for the investment. Be sure to do a little analysis before saying yes.
-Does attending have other business benefits for me? Maybe you are like me and look for speaking opportunities. Perhaps you want to volunteer with a business group that would help to build your network while you supported someting important to you. It’s OK to attend events when sales isn’t the specific goal, but you do need to be clear that this is your purpose. If you are responsible for business development – sales – you really have to think carefully about where you spend your time.
Whether you network online or off…define your purpose, frame out a plan, focus on the right activities and measure your results. Ask yourself and others tough questions before saying yes to requests for your time. Your ruthless commitment to scheduling only top priorities will get you faster results with less effort. Isn’t that how it ought to be?