Thursday, 14 March 2013

Networking as a Marketing Tool

So often we are asked in Business to attend a Networking Event. A new one seems to spring up every week. Often we could fill every moment of our working day Networking, but will that benefit our Business? Will we get a Return On Investment of money and time?

Having been around most of the Networking formats over the past 9 months, and viewing the emerging new events, I thought I would share some thoughts with you on Networking and where I believe it will be in 3 years time.

Prediction Number One:

We will see an increase in Networking activities by Businesses not currently engaged in the process. I would say that participation within Networking activities could grow by as much as 300% over the next Three years. Why is this?

Tradional forms of community are diminishing in this post modern era in which we live. The sense of community, family, social structures is rapidly changing and we are finding ourselves often isolated, lacking human and social contact and finding new social networks in this changing environment.

One of the main losses in this change is the ability to connect with people through those social structures. Therefore, in the future, people, especially those in Business will be seeking new ways to connect with other Businesses and potential clients, so one of the more visible formats will be the Networking events to participate in.

Prediction Number Two:

There will be a shift from memebrship paid models of Networking to pay as you go models. Current Networking formats which command a membership fee of around £600 per annum plus an event cost, such as a breakfast of £12 per week, are in danger of diminishing in the next Three Years.

This is because more and more new models of Networking charge a higher or equal weekly / per event fee, but no membership fee. Often these Networking events incorporate the costs for each event into the pricing and do not have a management / regional structure to pay for, thus rendering them more cost effective in terms of pricing to the Business community.

Additionally, many people have been looking at their ROI with Networking. When you take into the calculation a membership fee, training event feees, meeting event fees plus your time, then the per hour figure of your investment in that Network is substantially high. When measured against the referral gained through that Network model, often people find that the return on their investment is very poor. The ROI for pay as you go events is often significantly higher and more justifiable, especially in this current economic climate.

Prediction Number Three:

Social Media and Digital Technology will enable Businesses to add virtual networking to the face to face networking experience, with tremendous profit results for  business.

Time is also of the essence in securing a ROI for your Networking. Social Media and Digital Technology offer you the opportunity to Network without leaving your desk, without travelling time included and often you can find directly and quickly who you need to speak to without having to work the room and speak to people without anything in common with them.

In a packed market there needs to be a USP to your Networking offer and I believe Social Media gives Business an "Edge" in terms of Networking.

At Make A Difference, we blend together face to face Networking with SocialMedia and Digital Networking producing a New Business Edge Networking Event called #140net.

We look to blend face to face networking with workshops, presentations, use of technology and extended business reach potential, you  bring a new type of networking experience to local businesses.

You can find out more about this on our website: www.makeadifference.org.uk/140net

Do you have a view on the above predictions? Are they accurate or totally off the wall?

Why not get in touch and let me know. My e-mail is jazgreer@makeadifference.org.uk