Peter Jones of Dragons Den fame has openly said ”networking is the most cost effective route to market there is.”

I’m not so sure…

Networking is very important indeed. It provides a very enjoyable way to extend your reach, get your name out there and meet potential new clients and suppliers alike. But I believe networking is simply part of a wider activity mix designed to reach a target audience in a number of different ways.

In the interests of pseudo-science, here are some numbers I’ve quickly calculated:

Let’s assume a networking event is 2 hours long. It might take half an hour to get there (and back), so the whole event ‘door-to-door’ is 3 hours. Sound reasonable?

Let’s also assume you’re unlikely to meet someone for the first time, for them to decide you’re brilliant and write you out a purchase order on the spot. Perhaps it takes a handful of times (perhaps 4 or 5?) of meeting people at a regular networking event to build a relationship (and trust) before you’re likely to get either a single direct lead or a referral, let alone close some business!

So, that’s around 15 hours of your time, in total. Stay with me…

The next bit is rather specific to each and every one of us, but let’s say you charge your time at £25/hr. Some people will charge more, some less, but at £25 that networking time has cost around £375.

What’s the alternative? We recently managed a direct mail campaign for a client – the TOTAL cost of which was £770, including design and distribution. That client received 67 leads. Of which, upon qualification, c60% were high quality, real, close-able leads.

A one off perhaps? No. We’ve managed similar numbers three times in a row now for the same client.

So how cost effective does networking look now Peter? Who said direct mail was dead…

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