In the past, networking used to be “let’s do lunch” or “let’s play golf” or simply getting together for drinks after work. Oh how times have changed. There are so many networking groups. . .so many choices. . .so little time!

Last week I looked at the “cost” of networking for my own company. When I say cost I mean the actual dollars that I spend on networking. Next I looked at time: the amount of time that I spend networking. For a small business owner that equates to a pretty hefty investment as it relates to all of the things we have on our “to-do” lists. Finally I looked at how much of my networking dollars and time spent I can attribute to this year’s sales.

Ask some people and they might advise that you eliminate all of your advertising, marketing and public relations and have you simply network. Effective networking can create great referrals, right? Introductions to others pay dividends because the hope is for a reciprocal introduction, right? You introduce someone, they’ll introduce you, right? Business starts rolling in the very minute after you finish giving your 30 second intro, right?

In my next post I will discuss my own conclusions on whether or not networking has paid off for me and for my company.

For now I pose this question to you: what are your networking findings for you and your business? Has networking and the investment of time and money been financially rewarding?

As always I thank you for spending time reading the blog. If you enjoy these posts thank you for subscribing and sharing.

Erik Hultman (a.k.a. E) is the Founder and President of ÜberBlueDM, Inc., specializing in Social Media Solutions and Social Media Staffing Solutions for businesses to build their social media success. He also founded the North Shore Entrepreneurial Network (NSEN) in the Chicago Area celebrating it’s 3 year anniversary this December.

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Comments
  1. carbs0421 says:

    Erik,
    I find in networking that you start to develop relationships for business, and then it fades away.
    We all have the best intentions to connect with people who we know, like and trust, but it doesn’t
    always work out that way. I feel that if I keep showing up at networking meetings somthing just has
    to stick. When I give out a lead, sometimes people take it and sometimes they won’t. So it depends
    on what is going on in the other persons life if they really need that persons services or product.
    As for myself, networking has not paid off with the time and money I have spent on it. I keep networking because you never know where your next lead will come from.

    Joann Carbine
    Organize Office Systems, Ltd.

    • Bob Lambert says:

      Erik great question and certainly one that can be addressed as we wrap up 2011 examining historically what has happend from all the networking activity. In 2011 I can share the I changed my focus from networking to executive connections. While some of my activity could be classified as networking, I’ve chosen to not do as many of the typical networking events and focus on a select few groups that have the level of professionals that I relate to. The quality of connections has certainly improved and I find we’re more intentional in conversations. So my take away is more quality vs quanity for 2012.

      • erikhultman says:

        Bob,

        Thanks for reading. I completely agree with the quality vs quantity plan for 2012. The challenge of finding the quality certainly develops over time. Through one’s own networking we find which groups are the most beneficial for us. I also find that when you are considering joining a group talk to the members. If they are glowing about how great the group has been for business you are probably on the right track. Again and to your point the group has to be something you and your business can relate to.

        Erik

    • erikhultman says:

      Hi Joann,

      I will key in on your comment about how the relationships can fade away. I believe they fade away for two reasons. Either they weren’t the right relationships in the first place or we simply don’t do our part to keep the good ones alive. Like any good relationship the ones worth their weight need constant care. If they are meant to be they will flourish. Now I sound like Dear Abby.

      Thanks for your comments and I look forward to seeing you soon out there networking.

      Erik

  2. The other question is, how do you filter the contacts you meet to the ones who are truly in a position to work with you or are firms to whom you want to refer?

    Barbara

    • erikhultman says:

      Very good point Barbara. A lot of people go to many networking events, add the connection to their database and hope something will magically happen. The truth of the matter is that you have to go the extra step and qualify them and place them in the categories you mention above. Without doing this they will simply be a number on your list of connections with no quantifiable value. Find out quickly how you can help them and they can help you while everyone still remembers that they met in the first place.

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