Let's do a little experiment: Think about your networking experiences... all the meetings and events you've attended. Take a piece of paper and draw a line down the middle.
- Write down the number of events and much time you spend attending networking events each month. Attach your basic hourly rate to these activities, including travel time and cost of the event. Put "your cost" in the left side of your column. Next, write down the number of prospects you follow up with each month after meeting them at an event.
- In the right column, write down the number of new clients you have each month because you met at a networking event. What is the average value of that client - how much money has that client generated for your business? Write that down on the right hand side.
Now compare the two columns... How many events do you have to attend to generate 1 client? What is the acquisition cost of obtaining a new client through networking? What is your actual profit margin from these clients?
Are networking events making you money or costing you money?
Let's compare networking to speaking for lead generation.
Jane's goal is to add 5 new clients each and every month. She has a fun, informative, and engaging talk she gives to local service groups, women's groups, etc. She speaks at least once a month to a group of 25-40 of her target market. She doesn't get a speaker fee, but she's ok with that because she knows that she'll attract and convert new clients with the proven system she has in place.
Jane knows that 80% of attendees in the room will give her their contact info and ask Jane to provide more information to them. They are expecting her to contact them! Jane adds them into her system and within 2 months, a minimum of 25% will become new clients. Here's how the number break down:
- 25 people in the audience
- 20 give her their contact info because they want to know more (80%)
- 5 become new clients within 2 months (25%)
Jane has an automated system that keeps prospects engaged and converts them into buyers. Her messages are strategic, methodical, and effective. A speaking gig takes 2-3 hours when she adds together the length of the meeting and travel time. She doesn't count prep or follow-up because she'd have those activities whether she was attending networking events or speaking.
Here's what Jane discovered - she can spend 3 hours each month at speaking gigs to obtain 5 (or more) new clients or she can spend 12 -15 hours attending 4 networking events each month to obtain 5 prospects. Hmmmm, which looks like a better use of her time?
I think there are a lot of benefits to networking, but I'm not convinced that it's the most effective or cost-effective way to grow your business. David Siteman Garland stated, "Networking events are like nightclubs because most people there are just looking for a professional one-night stand." I agree. Many of the people who attend networking events judge it's effectiveness based on the number of cards they collect, NOT the number of prospects they convert. The harsh reality is that people attending network events and activities go there to prospect and sell, NOT BUY!
Speaking to groups and having them give you their contact details because they want more information from you and they are expecting you to send it is much different that following up on business cards you collected at a networking event!
Each one can generate results when done systematically and strategically. Which provides the results you want?
P.S. Is speaking to groups right for you and your business goals? Click here to schedule a free 30-minute consult. I'll ask some questions to learn about you and your business then share 2-4 tips that will help you reach your goals faster. No pressure. No obligation. At the end I simply ask you if you'd like my help with any of the suggestions. 🙂