Business Networking – Do you have a Plan?

So many times over the 15 years that I have been involved in my local B2B networking group, I have seen people come and go never understanding exactly what they are doing there or why there are there.  The main reason is they have not created an action plan or road-map.

Just like any good sales plan, you should also have a detailed plan for your business networking activities.

Here are a few pointers that your plan must include:

Basic Membership Requirements: Include not only dollars/cents but also the soft costs too, like time investment.

Dues and Meals:  These dues could be national, state and/or local.  Don’t forget to include the price of the meal in your hard costs.

Attendance:  Check this out because most groups require a certain percentage of attendance in order to maintain membership.

Leads/Referrals or Guests:  Some organizations require that you bring leads each session.  Do you have the connections to be able to do this?  What about guests?  Are you required to help bring in new members?

Soft costs:  Time to be a participant…do you have to conduct one-to-one meetings with members on a regular basis?  Do you have the time in your schedule to do this?  If not, then you might look at another group that does not require as stringent outside requirements.

Other soft costs:  time to get to/from meetings plus the time at the meeting.  Most networking groups meet for 1-1/2 hours, can you commit that that much time away from your office?

Offerings and Expectations:  Most people go to networking groups to “get leads.”  Some organizations forbid members to solicit business.  Do you know what the requirements are with regard to asking others for business?

In addition, your plan must include a detailed outline of your offerings and expectations.  What do you have to offer to the group…in leadership capabilities, mentoring of younger or inexperienced members?  Then, what are your expectations from the group…are you looking for some mentoring yourself or help developing a sales pipeline?

Agenda for meetings:  Once you have all of your costs figured out and you are ready to get involved, don’t forget that you should also have an agenda for each meeting that you attend.  Otherwise, you are just going for the social interaction.

Make a list of all of the elements involved in being a member of each group that you belong and put some dollar figures there to see if it is really worth your time to join a particular group or organization.

By creating a detailed Road-Map for your business networking activities, you can determine which groups best fit your overall sales action plan.

Peggy P. Edge © 2014 (Excerpt from Book:  5 Key Steps to Effective Business Networking, Peggy P. Edge © 2012)