Marketing can be complicated. To make things easier for myself, I like to look at the math of marketing. Math helps me better understand how I can promote my business and the businesses of my clients in a more effective and efficient manner. This month all my content will be focused on looking at marketing through the lense of math. Don’t forget to check out my YouTube channel for my video content!
When I first started Beacon Marketing one of the first things I did was to schedule time to attend a networking lunch. I did this because I believed it was important for me to get myself and Beacon Marketing out there. That developing connections with other local business owners and professionals would help establish myself and Beacon Marketing. I like to joke that it didn’t matter what the event was or how many people were there, if it was labeled “networking” I was there.
I am happy to say that my early networking efforts were successful. I soon developed key connections which I hold to this day and I closed my first big client two weeks after starting my business. However, I quickly learned that I could not go to every networking event and the ones I did attend, I could not do so without a plan.
Many business professionals do not see what networking truly is: It is an act of marketing. You are presenting yourself and your business in the same way that you would on your website, via social media, or in an email. If you have read any of my previous blogs, then you know how important I believe a plan of action,or strategy, is when it comes to any act of marketing.
Because I am focusing on the mathematics of marketing this month, let’s take a look at the math of business networking.
Let’s work within the following parameters:
- Your hourly rate is $100 (it’s probably more, but I want a nice, round number)
- Each event you attend is EXACTLY one hour. Not a minute more.
- It takes you 20 minutes to drive to the event and 20 minutes to get back, for a total of 40 minutes.
- It takes you 20 minutes to get back to peak performance after the interruption of your networking event. (studies show it can take up to 25 minutes, but again looking for a round number)
So in all that event took two hours. At $100 per hour, you just “paid” $200 in billable hours to attend that event. Many business owners attend 3-5 events per month. So that is $600-$1000 in billable hours per month that they are “paying” to attend business networking events. And when you consider that many business owners hours rate is probably more than $100, events often take longer than one hour, travel time is not always a neat 40 minutes, and you’re not always guaranteed to get into peak performance within 20 minutes; the cost of networking each month is quite a bit more.
I do not state this to rail against the idea of networking. Quite the opposite. Beacon Marketing would not exist if it weren’t for networking and the opportunities which have arisen because of it.
I outline these numbers to underscore the necessity of a plan when it comes to your networking activities. I do not know of any small- or medium-sized businesses which can spend $600-$1000 each month without some sort of ROI.
A plan helps you make the most of your networking efforts. Let’s take a closer look at other ways developing a networking helps deliver a better ROI.
Give Purpose To Your Efforts
An essential element of any strategy are goals. Goals give your efforts a purpose or direction. Whether it is speaking to five people you have not spoken to before (my personal favorite), trying out a new elevator pitch, making a connection with a specific person, or something else entirely; a goal serves as a waypoint guiding you along the way.
When you develop a networking strategy you set a goal for your efforts which means you have a purpose and reason for attending the networking event. Furthermore you are able to evaluate how the event went and your actions based on if you accomplished your goal. You can grade yourself and determine how you can improve, which is always valuable.
Make More Meaningful Connections
A mistake many business owners and professionals make is seeing networking events as a place to solely make sales. While it is possible to meet a future customer or clients at an event, if you go in with the “sellers” mindset, chances are you will not be successful.
Rather you should look to make meaningful connections. That is why I like to set a goal of speaking to five people I have not met. Sometimes that can be difficult with smaller events. On those occasions I pivot to learning more about someone I have met before. I ask questions to learn more about them and their business, which encourages them to ask about me and my business. This back and forth creates a deeper connection where we both feel more comfortable with each other.
Increase Your Influence
Something networking has done is allowed me to meet business owners and professionals of influence in my local business community. Because of this I have been asked to speak at events, host events, and in 2020, Beacon Marketing will be a sponsor for the largest B2B event in New Mexico (more on that soon).
Having a networking strategy helped me do this because I was able to focus my thoughts and actions on connecting with the right people and positioning myself to learn from them and be a resource.
Open Up Opportunities
As I mentioned above making those connections has opened up so many opportunities that I otherwise would not have known of. Aside from speaking at and co-hosting events, I have been a guest on a radio show, started a podcast, joined multiple influential networking organizations, and am currently working on a collaboration with another local business.
At the risk of sounding like a broken record, but these opportunities were only available because I got myself out there and networked with other business professionals and owners.
Grow Your Business
Ultimately the meaningful connections, the increase in influence, and the new opportunities resulted in growth for my business. Even though business networking connected me with potential leads which turned into paying clients, my goal was never to make sales.
My goal was to get my name and Beacon Marketing out there. I developed a networking strategy which allowed me to not feel like I had to attend EVERY event and gave my networking efforts purpose. Eventually that strategy led to meeting the right people and opening the right opportunities which has resulted in a successful business.
You can do it too. You just have to plan for it.