Having been a networker for a number of years now, it is very clear to me that networking costs!
BNI for example will cost you just over a £1000 in the first year with the associated fees and the cost of having to attend every meeting. Now that’s absolutely fine, as long as you are very clear what your product/service offering is, how to get the message across and you are confident that whatever network you become part of, it is a viable route to market that is going to generate you leads and ultimately revenue.
That’s a chunk out of any small business’s pocket without any guaranteed return on investment.
As far as networking is concerned, it is unlikely you are going to get immediate sales for what you are offering and you need to be in the mindset of it being a mid- to long-term investment of time (and money) to allow other members of the network to develop a relationship with you.
At the end of the day we do business with people that we know, like and trust who can either resolve an issue for us that is giving us some sort of ‘pain’ or that can deliver something of ‘pleasure’ that makes us feel good; any purchase is an emotional one at some level.
So, networking can be an excellent channel to market as long as you know how to use it to your benefit and understand how to connect with other networkers.
It’s like any marketing activity, you need to measure the effectiveness and the return on investment that it brings your business. You should also have a number of channels to market and not just rely on a few and they should all focus on your ideal customer – don’t try and be all things to all people and ‘niche’ your prospect base it will make it much easier for you to position your business to a very targeted audience.
Networking may on fact not be the best avenue for you to choose or even be viable for the type of business you are in. Sometimes the only way to find out is to visit some of your local networking events and see for your self.
Whatever you do for your business, consider the following tips:
- Know your business
- Know your customer
- Know your channels to market
- Know your costs
- Know your return
Keep your “knows” to the ground with the above and you won’t go far wrong!