Evaluating The Success Of Your Networking

Can you believe that it is the 1st day of Autumn today and we are almost into the last quarter of 2020 – what a year! Definitely not what we were expecting and it has certainly had an impact on the way we have been networking. As a small business owner I have been networking for over 10 years and it took me a while to adjust to the fact that we couldn’t network face-to-face as I love social interaction!

So right now is a great time to start evaluating your networking strategy and how well it has worked so far this year before you start making decisions for 2021. To help you out, here are a few tips for measuring how successful your networking has been, and what you could change for next year.

Know What To Measure

First things first – what do you use to measure the success of networking? After all, it’s a bit of a nebulous thing, not very easy to quantify. But there are a few things you can track to give you an idea of how well things have been going, and how much of a return you’ve been getting from each group:

  1. Number Of Activities Vs Number Of Sales: How many sales have you made from each networking group? This should be not just the people in the group who have bought from you, but anyone they have referred to you, and anyone those referrals have in turn referred (and so on and so on).
  2. Number Of Activities Vs Number Of Referrals: This is slightly different from the above, because it covers all the things that were referred to you, but didn’t convert into sales. This helps you gauge how valuable the connections you’re making are. If your referral level is low, it might be time to re-evaluate your networking groups and activities.
  3. Number Of Referrals Converting To Sales: Now take a look at that list of referrals, and work out how many of them actually converted into sales. This shows you the quality of the referrals you’re receiving from each group. If the referral rate is high but the conversion rate is low, then either you’re doing something wrong, or the quality of referrals is bad.
  4. Total Time Spent On Each Group: How much time do you spend on each networking activity? Be sure to include any follow-up and any prep-work you do, as well as the actual meeting time. Under normal circumstances, you would also include travel time but for most of us, networking this year as been mainly virtual. You can then compare this to the return you’re getting from each group, and this will tell you if you’re getting any sort of ROI on your time.
  5. Number Of Referrals Given In Each Group: Remember, networking is a two-way street and works best when referrals are mutual. If you’re a good fit for the people in your network, you’ll be giving a decent number of referrals out and recommending them as well. If not, then it might not be the right group for you.

Remember The Added Value

Of course, it’s not all about the money! There are other kinds of value you can get out of networking groups. For example, a lot of members at WIBN mention that they love the supportive and collaborative atmosphere at the meetings. Support and learning is often a key-value indicator. So look at what you get from each group, both in terms of money, and of other, intangible benefits.

But Don’t Jump To Conclusions!

While it’s great to track and measure your networking, you need to avoid the temptation to expect immediate results from them. Networking is a slow burn marketing activity, and it takes time to build up the relationships and trust you need to really get a return. So you’re not looking for the results from just this month, or even this quarter – you’re looking for long-term trends.