GUEST BLOG: How to Assess Your End of the Year Networking Efforts
“There are many reasons that people join organizations or go to events. But there comes a point where you have to assess whether what you are doing is working for you from a monetary or business perspective. Specifically, how do you measure the ROI of your networking efforts? I generally look at this twice a year as an entrepreneur. At the end of the year I look at everything I’m involved with to decide whether I want to continue with the same for the next calendar year. I also assess the networking I am doing at tax time. I look at where I invested my marketing dollars and what those marketing dollars netted me. So how do you decide when to throw in the towel? Here are some tips to help you make those decisions:
In name only. There are some organizations people join simply because it is important for them to be able to say they are a member of that organization. Often times these are industry related organizations. For example most who are in HR are members of the Society for Human Resource Management or SHRM. That organization offers tons of great networking and education opportunities. But it also gives legitimacy to industry professionals simply to say they are part of the organization. Or to put it another way, what does it say about them if they are not a member? How serious should people take them? It is fine to continue with an organization for these reasons but just recognize why you are continuing to pay your dues. Also it would not be a bad idea to start utilizing other benefits. Look at ways you can get more involved.
Is there a quantifiable ROI? Sometime this is very simple because you receive a direct referral for a client or business through a member of an organization. But often we need to develop a system for tracking where our leads, sales and clients come from. If you don’t have a system in place it would be helpful to develop such a system. This could be as simple as asking new customers or clients how they found you. You may start to see patterns of the direct people, type of vendors, or organizations that tend to produce referrals for you. Those are the people and organizations you should be focusing your time and money on.
Change it up. Every year you should look at all of you networking efforts and make a change to integrate something new for the next calendar year. Are you only involved in industry specific organizations? If so join a non-industry organization for the next year. Are you considering affinity groups such as joining organizations based on your alumni status, race, gender, interests etc.? This can be a great way to meet new people that you share commonalities with and expand your network. Are there causes you care about? Maybe it is time to volunteer or sit on the board of a non-profit and meet others who share your passion for that cause. Is there a big conference many in your industry attend every year but you have never attended? Sign up for it this time. You should always be looking for new ways to grow personally and professionally.
Of course there are other basic questions to ask yourself such as whether you are actually getting to the meetings and events of an organization you joined, whether you are having one on ones and getting to know the people within those organizations, and even whether you are doing basic things to help yourself like putting up a complete profile and photo in the membership directory of the organization. All of these are important considerations as well.
Finally, ask yourself if you actually enjoy going. Sometimes membership looks good on paper or others tell you to get involved but you may find the type of people involved are simply not aligned with your values. That should be a strong consideration in whether to continue with the organization next year.”
Jennifer Lynn Robinson, Esquire is the CEO of Purposeful Networking. She conducts keynotes, workshops and seminars assisting law firms, companies, non-profits, universities and conferences to help ensure your networking is working for you. She has been featured in local and national media including Forbes, The Huffington Post, Chicago Tribune and Philadelphia Magazine. She was named a Top Small Business Influencer of 2018 as well as one of the 45 Philly Business Influencers to Follow on Twitter Right Now in 2018 by Philadelphia Magazine. Jennifer was voted Best Networker in 2018 by Philly Current Magazine and was named a Power Woman by Main Line Today in 2017.