Many thanks to Viva Networking for this guest blog post.
Based on working an 8-hour day, 5 days a week, between the ages of 18-65, with 4 weeks holiday a year, did you know we spend 90,240 hours of our life working? That is a lot of hours! Moreover, depending on the work you do, a significant chunk of that time will be taken up with communicating with other people – customers, colleagues, suppliers. Every time we interact with someone, we influence them. A fantastic way to increase awareness of your business is to attend networking events. In this area there are over 25 networking events running each month! The choice is so vast, here are few points to consider when deciding which to attend.
Networking events should form part of your marketing plan. The time and money you spend must be measured to ensure you are getting a return on your time and investment. When you start attending networking events think about what you want to achieve from it. Think about the time you can commit to attending events and what events best suit your business.
What can networking do for your business?
- It can provide you with information on business support available in your area.
- You can reach people easily to inform them about your business.
- It’s a low cost way of promoting your business.
- You can make contacts with people directly who may have products or services to enhance your business.
- You can promote your business and yourself in a more direct way than an advert can.
Points to consider in selecting your networking events/groups
The networking groups in which you choose to participate will directly affect the success of your networking:
- Determine the types of organisations that you would like or need to join.
- Evaluate the potential networking organisations in your area that fit the profile you are looking for and select some to visit.
- Visit as many of them as possible and, depending on the type of group, find the answers to the following questions:
- How long has this group been in existence?
- How many members does it have?
- What is the quality of the membership?
- Is it affiliated with a national or international group?
- How focused is the group on its objectives?
- How structured are the meetings?
- What do other members say about the group?
- What is your overall impression of the group?
- Talk to members of each organisation you visit and get testimonials on how it’s been for them.
- Find out what types of businesses already attend the event. Usually this can be found on their website or by phoning or emailing the meeting co-ordinator.
- Find out where your target market networks.
- Decide on the times of day and the commitment you can give eg, breakfast, lunchtime, evening, monthly or weekly.
- Decide on your budget.
- Research what is available in your area – the internet is the ideal place to look.
- Remember most networking organisations will allow you to visit before deciding to join, so it’s important to try out different types to see what best suits you and your business.
- Make a list of goals you wish to achieve from networking.