Has anyone ever told you that it takes too much time to network? I overheard someone stating that just after telling me all the places they advertise their business. I was shocked. How could they be willing to spend money and take time to hang fliers around town yet not be willing to meet people that are also in business?
The person that I was speaking with is in the business to consumer market, and may have some hesitancy in the business to business space. However, a key point to always remember is that other business owners are also at the same time consumers. Likewise, a complimentary business to what your own offers could be a win-win relationship.
Truly, it does take time to attend networking meetings or to discover people that would be strong connections. By being strategic about these opportunities, you can create opportunities that would otherwise would not have happened. Most networking organizations take about 1.5 hours per monthly meeting, plus travel time. Ask around town or check out Meetup to discover groups in your area that meet.
Decide how many networking functions you have time for in your schedule per month. I average 1 or 2 per month, but pop in on a variety of meetings when I can to determine if they are worth participating in. Commit to just a few, but be open to discovering others. Learn what works for you.
While at networking functions, think about how you can refer business to those that you meet. Ask them what sort of referrals they would like, and who their ideal clients are. They will appreciate your thoughtfulness, and likewise consider referrals for you.
Like any part of running a business, networking takes time and effort. It can create business opportunities for you or others. If you’ve got all the work you want or can handle, maybe you really don’t have time. However, if you are spending money in the print newspapers or driving all over to hang fliers, there may be a better way. You won’t know until you try.