In today’s economic climate, word of mouth marketing / relationship marketing is extremely important and very necessary. Business owners today, are asked to do a lot with a little. This causes us to continually juggle and multi task. When a small business owner / entrepreneur / sales person joins a networking group, their expectations may not always be reasonable or realistic. I have found through my years of networking and training thousands of workshop attendees, that if people get very honest with themselves they realize that their expectation was to receive a significant return with a minimal investment. What do you want to get out of your networking efforts? What do you expect your ROI to be?
Each industry / category has its own tipping point. Do you know what yours is? I will share with you a few examples to help set the bar and get an idea of your networking tipping point, to help you get the most out of your TEAM membership. If you were to represent Mary Kay, or equivalent, and you joined a chapter today it is very safe to say you could potentially start receiving referrals and transactional business within a few weeks, 3 – 5 weeks. Let’s look at the opposite end of the spectrum now. If you are in financial services, Financial Planning / Advising, this is a much more personal and sensitive category. Your investment needs to be much greater before you start receiving a return. It is very realistic to say that you would be looking at 9 – 18 months before you truly start seeing something or possibly anything. Is it worth it, absolutely it is, you just have to understand the concept and philosophy to this type of environment.
I would love to share a story with you to put this into perspective. I have a student of my program, who has since become a friend, who is a Financial Advisor. She went through my course back in February 2011 and when she did, she told me she would do everything I told her to do because it wasn’t a matter of wanting to make this work. She had to make this work. No pressure right! I told her due to the nature of her industry and the sensitivity of dealing with people’s money and the trust that had to be evoked would require her to invest 9 – 18 months of playing full out and participating in networking continually. She assured me she got it, she understood and she was fully on board. October / November time frame, she shared with me her frustration. “I have done everything you told me to do and I have become a great referrer. People have gotten a lot of business from me, but I haven’t received anything in return. This isn’t working, I’m not sure if I can keep doing this. I’m just not getting the value.” Her boss even called me. He said, “I really need you to intervene, she believes in everything you tell her. She must be doing something wrong, because she isn’t seeing anything. Will you see if she is closing right?” I assured him, that he really didn’t understand the foundation of networking and that she was fine and would start receiving a return on her investment; she just had to reach her tipping point.
I received a call shortly after Thanksgiving, “I got my first referral, and wrote my first piece of business from networking.” Then a couple weeks later, I received another call, “I got another referral and wrote another plan.” Guess what, between November and March she has written up 10 new clients. Just on the verge of her tipping point, she was at her ropes end. She had almost given up. She is very glad she didn’t.
Each industry has a different investment level before you will see a return. Now that doesn’t mean that you might not luck out and get something before then. It just means that you won’t see the “mother lode” until you have made your investment. Now to get clear, investment is not just showing up to your weekly TEAM meeting. Investment means, SHOWING UP to your TEAM meeting. Playing full out – engaging in relationships, adding value. Understanding why you are there, what you are going to do while you are there and what you are going to do when you leave. Investment means, having a networking plan, creating a commercial strategy, participating in your chapter, doing your coaching session and adding value to your TEAM members. Remember, how you do some things is how you do everything and how you do the little things is how you do the big things!
The last tip I would like to share with you to help ensure you get the biggest bang for your investment is track your return on investment (ROI). Put a dollar amount on your time, track what you spend on networking, get really organized and track the referrals you receive, 1st generation, 2nd generation and 3rd generation referrals. By understanding your tipping point, making a real and honest investment and then tracking your ROI you will be very surprised on your true networking results. If you have any questions or would like any help, please feel free to contact me.
Stacey O’Byrne, Founder of Pivot Point Advantage