Small Business Marketing Strategy & Process Development

Authentic Networking

What’s Networking Worth to You? ROI Explored.

on January 27 in Authentic Networking, Authenticity, Small Business, Startups/Entrepreneurs | 0 comments

In talking to solopreneurs and microbusiness owners, I’ve heard many approaches to networking. Some people don’t like to spend money on it. Some think it’s a waste of time. Others understand and believe in networking as a valuable concept, but find the actual activity (or existing options) to be poor investments. Many have had mixed experiences with membership-based leads groups, but I’ve heard from a few raving fans. Some resent the pressure of “putting on a show” or projecting someone else’s (limited) idea of professionalism at networking events–and feel this is a major “expense.” What is networking really worth? Exploring Networking ROI Let’s look at the hard costs of networking first. In Phoenix, there are so many opportunities for networking events. THE place to go for event listings is Here, you’ll find the most common event registration fees are $10-20, with the highest fee at $79. The average cost for a networking event comes to $39.50. We may also factor in gas, dry cleaning (if your idea of professionalism requires it), and, depending on the venue – food and drink. The value of your time (opportunity cost) may also be added. Now we might have an estimated cost of investment to plug into the traditional ROI formula: Gain from investment -Cost of investment Cost of investment GAIN is the hard part. Especially since traditionally this might be measured in volume–of business cards, interactions, meetings set, etc. But does that really represent GAIN? What we might measure instead is the depth of the relationships formed. But how do we put a value on the relationships we hope to create (or have initiated) at these events? This relationship value seems difficult to measure in traditional business terms for a number of reasons. Mainly, business deals or referrals don’t (always) happen automatically. So what kind of time frame do we allow for measurement? It’s not like email marketing, for example, in which you know the results quickly and there’s a window for measuring success. Specifically, in the first two days after an email is sent, 85% of open rates have occurred (Alchemy Worx). But, how do we factor time into this networking equation – particularly when someone we met long ago has now...

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