Updated: Jul 13, 2018
Do you network? I have clients who absolutely love networking, in fact one of my clients recently told me that networking is one of her favourite things to do.
Networking can seem expensive though, I go to lots of local events which cost maybe £15 or £20 per ticket, quite reasonable, but larger events can cost hundreds. There's a big annual conference for bookkeepers which costs a couple of hundred pounds plus the same again for a train ticket (usually to London) and maybe the cost of a hotel if I stay overnight.
This year though, I've decided to go a completely non-finance-related event, I'm going to Media Influence Live next week, which is a conference and networking event in London run by PR expert Janet Murray. As an attendee I'll have the opportunity to meet journalists from some large magazines, newspapers and other media outlets and I think that's going to be a fantastic way to get my name and business in front of a lot of potential clients.
One way I keep my networking costs down is to just allow myself one big event each year. It was difficult to decide not to go to the bookkeeping conference (and I still might decide to go later in the year), but Media Influence Live is a much better event for me because ultimately it's more likely to generate potential leads than if I go to a conference where I'll just meet lots of like minded bookkeepers and accountants. So how did I get to the point where I was able to make the decision to choose this event over one more relevant to my profession? I considered the ROI of course.
What on earth do I mean by that?
ROI stands for Return on Investment. It's used to show how successful your investment in something is in terms of the profit it generates, as a percentage. Accountants use it when comparing investment options, they'll say things like "the ROI on buying this piece of machinery is better than the ROI of buying that different piece of machinery", but a simple example you might like to keep in mind is that if you invested £100 in some design software which you were then able to use to generate £1000 of design work, then that software had an ROI of 1000%, pretty useful, hey?
If you can clearly measure the profit of the new thing you're able to do because of the investment, ROI is an easy one to calculate and measure. Coming back to networking, I have heard of people who've been to events and doubled their revenue as a result, or people who came up with one magnificent idea that they wouldn't have had had it not been for the combination of people in that one place at that one time. It can be slightly less easy to evaluate the ROI of your investment if the return or profit you generate as the result is a little less clear (did you make the sale because you met that person, or might you have made the sale anyway?).
If you're not sure whether the networking you're paying for at the moment is benefiting your business profits, I suggest setting some goals for every event so you can really evaluate whether the expenditure on networking is worthwhile. If you can achieve those goals, then great, but if you can't then the investment probably isn't worthwhile, and you might want to give this one a miss next time.
Here are some targets that you might want consider:
to make 5 new connections with potential customers per event
to sign up 10 people to your mailing list
to book 3 initial consultations with potential clients by the end of the day
to actually physically sell 20 products at the event
or for me at Media Influence Live, to ask a question of every journalist
So, if you're thinking about cutting back on expenditure, yes, don't go mad on networking, but at the same time, don't stop until you've spent some time analysing whether it's cost-effective. If you're going to the same networking event every week and you're meeting the same people every time, it's probably not generating lots of new sales for you and it might not be a great investment anymore, but the opportunity to put yourself in front of new potential clients and people who can do big things for your business, should certainly be considered.
So, should you stop networking to save money?
Don't go to the same event time and time again (unless it's really great for your business)
If cash is tight, limit yourself to one or two really good events
Consider which events are going to get you in front of the most potential customers
Set goals and measure them.
If you'd like to talk about how I can help you with the bookkeeping for your business, please get in touch.