When business owners ask me how much they should network, I find myself giving them the lawyerly response, “It depends.” I then ask more questions to be able to give a more precise answer.
- What are they doing for networking activity currently?
- What impact does that networking activity have on their business?
- What is their target market?
- Is their target market in attendance at the networking meetings they attend?
- What are their expectations about how much their business will increase as a result of their networking?
I realize that some of these questions will be hard to answer. But you have to answer them anyway. Unless you know the ROI of your networking activities, you are in the dark, and what sense does that make? Your marketing has to be measured. Otherwise, you are not holding yourself accountable.
Some basic rules that I’ve found helpful:
- Find a balancebetween how much networking you do with how much work you already have in your business or professional practice. Once you develop a steady flow of work, your networking activity can be adjusted accordingly.
- It is always a good idea to set some limits on the number of networking events you attend each month. Think through what really works for your business and your time, and manage your opportunities carefully to take full advantage of them.
- Do not waste your time. This is a difficult rule for business owners. If you are using networking as a social activity, acknowledge that it has a very different purpose than marketing your business.
If your networking activity isn’t building business relationships that in turn produce referrals and clients, then it’s time to examine how and where you are networking. Have the courage to make the necessary adjustments if they are called for.