Investing in Networking
Networking is an investment, and like all other investments the return must exceed that which can be gained elsewhere. Whether you network for a few hours with professional acquaintances on a sporadic basis or deliberately attempt to develop business through regularly networking at multiple venues, networking is an investment.
Outside of the cost of attending networking events, which often involve a nominal membership or event fee, there are travel and parking costs, and more importantly, the cost of time. Given the variety of potential venues, a busy person can run-up expenses directly related to networking in the thousands of dollars and hundreds of hours. What should a business expect in return?
Couple the issue of expenses with the issue of timing, and the concept of investment becomes more relevant in considering networking. Executives may hope that networking produces leads immediately, but the full results of networking for business development usually requires months or even years to come to fruition. The time delay between initiating a networking campaign and capturing results becomes longer when networking is used as a means to position oneself as a domain expert within their field.
Given this reality, we would like to remind readers of a few questions that should be addressed when considering networking for business development:
- Which venues are best for networking?
- At these venues, how many relevant prospects will be in attendance?
- When visiting a venue a second or third time, how many new prospects versus friendly competitors are uncovered?
- What is the possibility for becoming a committee member or chair?
- How much time and money will be dedicated to networking?
- What returns should the business expect?
- When should results be expected?
- How do the returns to networking compare to other sales and marketing activities?
Like other sales and marketing activities, results are what matters. In making your decision with regards to your level of investment in networking, estimate the expected results and choose the path that yields the largest bang for the buck.