Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Network with a Purpose - You Don't Have to Be Everything to Everyone

A few of my clients cringe at the word "networking." They shy away from talking about themselves in public venues, and networking is their least favorite aspect of marketing.

Social media and online marketing is important, but one-on-one networking still needs to happen. However, you don't have to be everything to everyone. Translation: You don't have to attend every chamber or networking group function. The key to networking is to "network with a purpose." Your time is valuable, and you need to weigh your return on investment.

As a former non-profit fundraiser who never had enough time in the day (or evening), I used this strategy to hit community events/fairs that targeted potential donors/sponsors. I couldn't clone myself and be at two places at once, so I had to pick and choose what events would make the biggest impact.

Networking with a purposes aligns you with potential clients who will help grow your business (or introduce you to people who could benefit from your services and products).

Before you sign up for a networking event or trade show, ask yourself the following questions:

  • What event will give me the biggest bang for my buck?
  • How many people are attending?
  • Where is the event held? Is it local or out of my area? Is it worth it to travel 100 plus miles if only 10 people are attending the event?
  • What kind of people (demographics) are attending the event?
  • Will these people be interested in my services and products?
  • How much is the participation fee? (Free events are always a PLUS!)
  • Do I really want to attend/participate? If your "gut" instinct tells you "no, this event just isn't for me," listen to your instinct!
  • Am I prepared to market myself effectively at this particular event? (business cards, marketing materials, give-aways, etc.)
  • If I attend this event, will the event take away precious time from clients and other income-producing work/activities?
Bottom line - What's your biggest return on investment? An antiquated style of sales/marketing focused on attending every possible networking event you could attend. This is not good business.

You don't have to be everything to everyone, and you don't have to be at every networking event either!

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Therese Pope, Copywriter/Content Developer & Digital Buzz-icist

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