Why do people network?
People typically network to try to find prospects.
However, most experienced consultants also find that their clients have problems they are unable to solve, and these represent missed opportunities for their client.
It is important that consultants find complementary service providers that they can trust to do a great job for clients. This will help solve the client’s problems, unblock the potential in their businesses, and make the consultant more valuable to the client.
Does networking work?
Networking, and through this word of mouth referrals are typically trusted more than any other source. Word of mouth business referrals typically result in higher rates of conversion. Also as you work with other consultants they will be more likely to introduce you.
So networking works – but what does it really cost?
I’d estimate that the value of your time represents 90% of the cost of networking.
In my six years as a consultant, I have done quite a bit of networking especially early on (2010 / 2011). I joined a weekly breakfast club; I’ve attended various dinner groups, and also IoD events.
I have met some really good people, I have made some good friends, and I learned how to “pitch”. However as a business activity, I enjoyed very low returns on my time invested…..…
My time was the key cost, in my early days I maybe spent over 20 hours a month “networking”.
Doesn’t sound like much but over a year, this is getting on for 30 days !!!
So when I looked at the charges for attending networking events, and the cost of my time, it was my time which was the biggest cost. My challenge was how do I make best use of my time?
So how do you make the best use of the time you invest in networking?
This challenge led me to get together with Jackie Jarvis and Stuart McHale, and together we developed “Heart of business” (Hob). Hob is a great blend, we’ve picked good elements from many networking events and added some USP’s to make Hob special…..
So why Hob?
TIME is invested efficiently
- Hob meets monthly (weekly is too frequent and IoD (quarterly) is too infrequent).
- You do need to get to know those who you can refer and visa versa – BNI say it takes 6 meetings;
- By meeting monthly you get a significant time saving versus a weekly group; and
- When we meet it is for 3 hours, so you spend quality time in the group.
QUALITY is assured
- We “check out” our members. Typically they are likely to have worked with existing members, if not we take references from clients and colleagues.
- Therefore the membership is strong, and so time spent at events and on 1-2-1 meetings with other members, is not time wasted.
MENTORS help with content and structure
- A key USP, our business mentors, organise and set up good events.
- The events have a CPD element, mainly how to sell; how to generate business (marketing); how to improve yourself.
- Our structured agenda also enables getting to know other members.
REFERRALS help your clients, and increase your value
- The Business Mentors who trade using the Hob brand. They seek ambitious companies and then use the membership to help the client achieve breakthrough.
- Hob is now proven. After a gentle start, in the last quarter over £38k of business was “referred” across 22 members at Thame.
- The network has had good experience “referring” and the events drive deeper understanding of the other members.
FEEDBACK helps Hob continuously improve
- We take feedback after every meeting and look to continually improve.
To find out how you can get more from the time you invest in networking get in touch.
David Cardno is a portfolio Finance Director, working with up to six clients at any time, and specialising in exit planning; profit improvement and incentive plans for key staff.
David is a founder of FD4 (www.fd4.co.uk) and of the HEART of business.