Let’s say you decide to go along to a couple of networking groups to ‘try before you buy’. You still need to pay for it – your breakfast, lunch or dinner. Then there is the cost of travelling to get there, parking or a taxi. Then there is your time say 2 ½ hours on average. After each of the meetings you e-mail a few people you met, you then arrange to meet say two fantastic people for a coffee and a chat to get to know them.
Attendance/food/refreshments - £20.00
Travel/parking etc - £4.00
Follow-up Coffee & travel x 2 - £20.00
Total - £44.00
If you say go to two per week for three weeks so you get a feel for it your actual cost could be as much as £264.
Oops I forgot to mention your time. If you were working on chargeable work instead of doing all this at say £55 per hour this will really scare you – £2,145!
So the true cost could be as much as £2,409 and this is before you’ve signed up as a member, and committed to regular attendance!
What can you get out of networking?
After reading all of the above you would think I am completely against networking, I’m not – It’s built my business.
So how do you do it, so it doesn’t cost you quite so much and you get results? I recommend being smart about it! This only comes with experience I’m afraid. Trying to speak to everyone in the room is a common mistake as how can you be remembered or remember the other person if you only speak to them for a minute.
However be pleasant and friendly to everyone you pass as you just never know. Listen, ask questions and be enthusiastic, then try to spark some want or need in the people you do speak to, whether this be socially or commercially.
Try to arrange follow-up meetings at a time and place that is convenient to both of you. This is easier said than done, generally those who charge by the hour are more precious with their time, than those who don’t. Also always consider travel time.
The best advice is to keep an open mind, one of my best networking results was when I met a tiny new start business, my initial reaction was to try to move on, but I didn’t – I made such a great impression that around 6 months later I was recommended to a friend of theirs, who has since become one of my best and most profitable clients.