Is it time to become a Pro-Networker? Sales Masters Guild Mentor, Toby Acton, says “There has never been a better time to be networking“
There are so many different networking groups out there: from the strict rules-led weekly lock-out groups, to the very informal groups of a room full of people standing around talking in pairs, threesomes and foursomes, and all others in between across the spectrum of types of networking events. You have the individual groups and the regional, or in some cases, national networks of regular meetings. There are industry specific groups in sectors such as property, finance or law and those open to all business. There are regular weekly, bi-weekly or monthly networking meetings and those that are one-off events organised often as launches or to promote a particular company.
So, lots of opportunity to network for business. But the challenge is that most business owners simply do not get value from their networking activities. They are just not making it pay and are not getting a good return on the investment of money and time that they put into it.
The cost of networking is far more than just the money that you pay to go to the meeting on the day. There is the cost of travel or fuel, possibly the cost of drinks, often the cost of display advertising and promotional materials.
However, more significantly there is the opportunity cost of the time that you spend networking. And again, this is not just the time you spend in the room on the day. It is the time taken to travel to and from the meeting – that can add on up to another couple of hours of “lost” productive time. Then there is the time required to do the all-important follow ups and arrange 1-to-1s and further contact as necessary. Also, I am sure that many others are like me – if I go to lunchtime networking meeting, it can pretty much wipe me out for the rest of the day!
So, what is the opportunity cost of our time? Well, put simply, it is the money that we could earn in the time that we are doing something else, in this case networking and the activities associated with it. Even if we do not charge out at an hourly rate, the opportunity cost of our time is our average net income per month divided by the number of hours that we work on average per month. It is time that we could be productively engaged in income-producing activities elsewhere.
So, when weighing up whether we are getting value from our networking and whether it is really paying for itself in term of the dividends of earning income from those activities, we must take into account all of the costs, including the opportunity cost of our time.
And, as I said earlier, sadly most business owners are simply not getting that value. They are not converting the hours and money that they put into networking into business and income.
Getting Value from Networking
Why is that? Well, in my experience it is because they are lacking in some, if not all of the following 6 areas:
- They do not have a clear strategy for meeting the right people at an event
- They are not clear on their value proposition
- They do not have a succinct answer to the “What do you do?” question
- They do lack a well thought out, structured 60 second pitch to the room
- They don’t have conversations on purpose, asking questions with intent
- They do not have a strategy for engagement and for follow up after the event
Basically, they are not going networking on purpose. It is not planned, strategized, structure networking to achieve a specific outcome – it is often done on an ad-hoc, reactionary or “let’s see what happens” basis. The trouble with this approach is that what actually tends to happen is, well, nothing. Or it becomes a very long disheartening process to where business owners feel that they are just “not getting results” from networking.
The truth of the matter is that effective networking does not have to be a long drawn out process.
Networking on Purpose
Having networked for business for many years and attended many hundreds of events, I have recognised the challenges that many business owners have with networking, and specifically networking on purpose.
This is why I now run my Pro Networker Training workshops to help them to get value from their networking. Specifically, I cover those 6 areas that I listed above – the areas where many are lacking in their networking.
The workshop is a very interactive environment, with everyone working together as a team to improve to assist in improving all areas. We start the day with everyone introducing themselves as they would at a networking event and also highlighting any areas where they have a specific challenge in terms of networking.
We then start our journey towards successful and productive networking by identifying the clients that we want to attract and seeing things from their point of view, we then together gain an understanding of the psychology of why people buy from who they buy from and the psychology of communication.
This will enable us to put together a strong and clear value proposition that will really resonate with our prospective clients and answer that all important “What do you do?” question in a compelling way that makes people curious to know more about you, about what you do, about who you do it for and why you do it.
We then work individually and as a group to expand that to a structured 60 second pitch which is interesting, insightful and most importantly memorable. The sort of pitch that will generate conversations and I will then guide you through how to make those conversations meaningful by asking qualifying questions with intent to understand your prospective client better.
We then round up the day by discussing the correct strategies for follow up after the event and maximising the benefit of the contacts that we have made – a stack of business cards on your desk is not going to get you business on its own!
You will go away from the day with the necessary tools to make the most of your networking and make sure that you are getting value from attending networking events.
This is one of my favourite trainings days to run as I love seeing people suddenly get those “light bulb moments” as they realise how, with just a few tweaks, they can significantly improve the effectiveness of their networking activities.
So, in conclusion, I stand by my original opening statement that there has never been a better time be networking to market our businesses – but we need to be going about our networking “on purpose” and with intent in order to maximise the benefits from it an ensure that we are getting value for the time and money that we are investing in it.
You can find out more about Toby and book onto any of his Pro-Networker Training from booking page or his Sales Masters Guild Mentor page.
Toby Acton is a Sales Masters Guild Personal Business Mentor.
For more than two decades, Toby has been running his own businesses, with interests in a variety of diverse sectors including IT, market research and property. He has also mentored and trained many hundreds of people on how to build their networking marketing businesses and to develop their personal brand.